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Yogis’ parks

Lahore is waking up to the joys of yoga at some of the city’s best public parks

Yogis’ parks
The participants bring their own yoga mats for their personal comfort. Routine involves breathing exercises and posture relaxation, warming up to a more intense workout. — Photo by the author

Finally, some good news for Lahorites: the ‘City of Gardens’ is now hosting morning yoga sessions and classes in different public parks. It’s a healthy trend that people are taking to, gradually but surely.

Fitness enthusiasts have come up with the commendable idea. Outdoor yoga sessions are arranged in corners of different parks, thereby giving the participants a chance to enjoy a healthy activity in fresh air.

The parks that have started yoga sessions include Racecourse Park, Bagh-e-Jinnah, Nishat Park, Sheeba Park and others in Model Town and Johar Town. The sessions usually begin as early as 5 in the morning. Keeping the currently hot and humid weather of the city in mind, the sessions are wrapped up before it gets too sunny.

Eventually, a session lasts from an hour and a half to two hours.

The participants bring their own yoga mats for their personal comfort. Routine involves breathing exercises and posture relaxation, warming up to a more intense workout. People who participate are supposed to take a quick walk or jog in the park before and after the session.

These yoga sessions are fairly affordable and a few trainers at the parks are conducting classes for as less as Rs200 per month. The rates may vary according to the location, though.

Aside from the classes, some fitness experts are also spotted practising yoga on their own. Access to innumerable fitness videos online has given common people the advantage to become familiar with the yogic exercises before they hit the class.

According to Hassan, 23, a university student, “There are free yoga lessons available on the internet, I’ve downloaded a few and bring them with me to the park daily.”

He says that he has been following the yoga regime for almost three months now and he is “getting better at it with every passing day.”

There are parks such as Nishat which have a separate, concealed space for women practitioners. These sessions are conducted by a female instructor under a shaded area where women of all ages can be found performing the fitness regime.

There are parks such as Nishat which have a separate, concealed space for women practitioners. These sessions are conducted by a female instructor under a shaded area where women of all ages can be found performing the fitness regime.

Razia, 64, tells TNS that she has been doing yoga in the same park for over a year now, and it has helped her to remain active.

Yoga trainers often suggest a special diet to their students. This includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, plant-based oil, herbal teas, water with lemon or lime, and sweet spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, mint, basil, turmeric, ginger, cumin, and fennel. Preserved and processed foods, junk food, artificial sweeteners, soda drinks, animal fats, white flour, white sugar, spices and overly cooked foods are discouraged. It is believed that yoga diet can improve your body, mind and spirit.

Misha - optional copy

Ayub, a fitness instructor, puts it in more philosophical terms: “Everything we eat goes to the soul. So, yes, there are certain food items that we should completely avoid.

“We should also take care of our eating habits, if we want to perform well in yoga on a daily basis. For instance, I usually recommend people to come for yoga with empty stomach or when they haven’t had a meal in at least five hours.”

Traditionally speaking, yoga is considered a series of exercises that calls for a unified working of our physical, mental and spiritual energies. It originated in India. The gurus from India later introduced yoga to the west, in late 19th and early 20th century.

Some of the many physical benefits of yoga include increased flexibility, increased muscle strength and tone, improved respiration, energy and vitality, a balanced metabolism, weight reduction, cardio health, and protection from injury.

In the past few years, we have seen many yoga studios open in different metropolitan cities of Pakistan. Yoga is believed to provide peace of mind also.

To quote 34 years old Amir Saeed, “Over the past one year, my workload has doubled, and as part of my daily routine I need to commute to office and back home with untimely meals in between. Gradually, I began to feel depressed and started gaining weight also. But after I joined this [outdoor] yoga session in this park, my life is slowly getting back to normal.”

Saeed claims he is now better able to fight depression.

Morning yoga sessions in public parks give the common people of Lahore a chance to appreciate nature and bond with their fellow citizens. As such, it inspires a positive attitude also.

Misha Khan

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