wonderful story unfolds every morning in Kachnar Park, Sector I-8 where Hashim Abro, aged 51 and his 75-year-old mother Shehzadi take part in a special ritual that is all about feeling good and staying healthy.
As the capital stirs awake and launches headfirst into the frenzy of routine life, the park is transformed into a serene refuge, thanks to the efforts of this mother-son duo that leads people into guided meditation and yoga.
The exercises allow practitioners to re-establish their connection with nature and cultivate mindfulness.
Hashim and Shehzadi begin their day with yoga. For them, yoga is a lot more than just stretching and bending; it’s a dance makes them feel great and a song, sung in unison, that connects them with the universe.
“Yoga is like a thread that ties us to everything,” Hashim says, his eyes shining. “It’s not just about being bendy; it’s about feeling close to ourselves and the world.” I’m ageing,” says Shahzadi, “…but I find my strength in yoga and I’m grateful for that.”
Shahzadi started the yoga sessions for women in Kachnar Park. These sessions give women a chance to practice yoga in a peaceful corner away from the noise and commotion of the city.
Of her special sessions for women, she says, “the exercises we pick depend on factors such as the age of the woman, her diet and medical history as well as environmental factors.”
For Hashim, yoga offers an opportunity to pause and connect with his inner self. “We live in a loud and busy world. Checking in with oneself in these rushed times is essential,” he says. “Yoga helps us find peace inside us,” he says. “It is also one of the ways we can show gratitude and feel at one with the world.”
The story of this mother-son team is a warm reminder of how things that appear improbable can occur – and transform people. Right in the heart of a bustling city, these two bring yoga and nature together.
Shahzadi and Abro want everyone to know that yoga isn’t just for grown-ups. It’s a friend for everyone’s heart and health. “Yoga is like a hug for our insides. It’s not just about moves. It is about feeling good. Breathing with yoga makes our hearts happy. It’s a gift for our bodies. Just as nature finds its balance, yoga helps us find ours,” says Abro.
“Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root yug, meaning ‘to join’ or ‘to yoke’ or ‘to unite’. Yoga is a spiritual discipline based on science that focuses on bringing harmony between mind and body. It is a blend of art and science for healthy living – based on philosophy, ethics and spirituality,” says Abro.
Abro traces the origins of yogic practices to Mohenjo-daro in Larkana, Sindh. “Yog is a gift of the Indus Valley Civilisation,” he says. “The exercises, by design, help you think more clearly, retain your focus and improve your mental wellness in addition to improving physical health.”
According to Shahzadi, her family has been in a meditative process of self-discovery for many years. She and her son began leading exercises more than five years ago in Kachnar Park.
Shahzadi, popularly known as Amma Sindhi, says, “We do this [yoga] as a family. We’re known as the Sindhi yogi family of the capital. My son and three daughters practice, preach and teach yoga from a global perspective.”
“There are more than 200 postures in contemporary yoga. However, the oldest yoga traditions count only a few. They are all sitting poses for meditation. Most medieval hatha yoga traditions agree that there are 84 yoga postures but actually describe a lot fewer,” says Shahzadi.
“Yoga is like a tonic for mind, body and brain,” says Nargis Ashraf, a 22-year-old who practices yoga regularly. “Yoga helped me improve my emotional regulation. It has been a stress-buster; a balm against anxiety and depression.”
Another person who joins Hashim and Shahzadi routinely is Bashir, a retired chief engineer. Bashir is all praise for yoga. “Practicing yoga has helped me stay active. There are many physical and mental benefits to meditation,” he says.
Muhammad Hakim, a younger person, has also embraced the yoga culture taking over the capital. He belongs to Larkana but has been living in Islamabad for a while now. “I practice at Edhi Homes International Park of the CDA,” Hakim says. “When I began, I had shaky hands. Yoga has helped me manage things better. It has also improved my concentration.”
Professor Dr Munawar Hussain, a noted academic from Quaid-i-Azam University, thinks that yoga should be introduced at our educational institutions. “Since the goal of yoga is to unite body, mind and soul, including it in the curriculum would be of help,” he says. “It can help foster resilience among teachers and students,” he says.
Ilyas Bhojani from Karachi, who also runs Sukhi Aashiana, says “Yoga is very important for all ages and gender groups. It improves strength, balance and flexibility.”
For Syed Obaid and Miskeen Arbab, yoga is not just movement but movement tied to breathing. “The disciplined breathing builds a sense of oneness and gives one a healthy outlet,” they say.
The writer is a freelance journalist. He can be reached on Twitter Nabeell_Abro