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Yoga for the soul

Certified yogis Salina Taqi and Jeanette Faruque take 30 women to north Pakistan on a spiritual excursion called ‘Journey to the Self’.

Yoga for the soul

Travelogue

It is no secret that the purpose of practicing yoga, other than the obvious health and fitness benefits, is to become more self-aware and achieve a deeper spiritual connection with one’s self. However, it can become quite a feat to meditate while at home or even at the gym. This is where yoga retreats – those idyllic little excursions away from the madding urban noise – step in. They are all about discovering the inner self, relaxing and staying away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Most yoga retreats are exotic getaways – often on mountain tops or remote islands where one can disconnect with the world – and are solely dedicated to yoga and meditation that help you de-stress. These retreats hit the reset button on your perspective on life.

Keeping this in mind, certified yogis, Salina Taqi, Co-founder of Yoga X, and Jeannette Faruque, Owner of Studio X along with 30 women recently went up north on an excursion titled ‘Journey to the Self’.

“Jeannette and I had been planning this retreat for a long time so we deciced to team up with TACTACK, an outdoor experiences company, for this 7-day luxury yoga retreat in the heart of the breathtaking Shigar Valley located in Baltistan, northern Pakistan,” Salina Taqi told Instep.

“We created this beautiful retreat where there was early morning yoga, healthy food, yoga chanting and meditation,” she added. The best part about this entire program was that, apart from Jeannette and I, the 30 women who registered walked in as strangers and by the end of it we all left as friends.”

According to Salina Taqi, the journey started from Karachi to Islamabad and from there they went to Skardu and then drove to Shigar Valley, a 60 minute drive, which was breathtakingly beautiful.

“Shigar Valley is one of the world’s most exquisite mountain ranges and here we stayed at Serena Shigar Fort that offers guests the opportunity to experience the restored original architecture of the 17th Century Raja Fort Palace,” she informed.She further went on to say that the retreat had a yogic intention every day.

She explained: “On the first day the intention was ‘gratitude’ and the aim was to realize how important it is to be grateful for all that we have and how we often forget about it. So we all got together under the beautiful sky, surrounded by scenic mountains and focused on being grateful.  The last day was ‘forgiveness’, forgiveness to the self, forgiveness towards others and so on.”

When asked about the inspiration behind the retreat, she shared, “It was literally a spiritual journey, a journey to the self. It was meant to make one realize that you are more than anyone else in the universe. Not only did the trip offer yoga sessions amidst beautiful locations, but there were excursions of different types as well such as mountain trekking, trek to the lake and much more. This was the first time we went mountain trekking and it was one unforgettable experience as one tends to come face to face with their fears. It just went so well with our whole journey,” she shared.

Usually such retreats are organized outside of Pakistan but Jeannette and Salina both decided to discover the beauty of Pakistan. “I personally love the scenic locations up North,” shared Jeannette Faruque. “Initially the plan was to arrange this retreat outside Pakistan but we decided otherwise and being our first time it was challenging and adventurous at the same time.”

As for the inspiration behind ‘Journey to the Self’, Salina revealed that they really wanted people to experience the beauty of Pakistan.

“This trip was for someone who really wanted to grow spiritually. And this retreat proved to be a getaway for people from where they come back feeling rejuvenated and energized.  Everything during these 7 days was aligned so beautifully that we felt that we are being helped by God. There were no hurdles and we all got along so well, making the entire experience literally magical.”

On a parting note Jeannette said, “This retreat will be a yearly trip that will offer early morning energizing yoga, meditation, mindful yoga, pranayama (breathing exercises) and much more.“

We’re definitely interested in signing up for it!

Maria Shirazi

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