Teach yoga in Pakistan
Amel is a traveler at heart, a true adventurer. She left everything in France to follow her dreams. She tells us how she moved to Pakistan on a whim and how she started teaching yoga in this wonderful country.
Teach yoga in Pakistan
My life before teaching yoga
Teaching yoga has never been in my plans. I was doing boxing and HIIT but I thought yoga was way too slow and not ideal to let off steam. Looking back, I realize how wrong I was. It all depends on his intention: if I want to get rid of bad thoughts, I can very well do it by tapping on a bag, writing it on a newspaper or doing a yoga flow based on the anchor.
You may be wondering what I was doing before becoming a yoga teacher?
I followed a fairly traditional course: 2 years of preparation HEC and integration of a business school.
I never felt it in my place. So, not to take my responsibilities and face feelings, I preferred to spend my time to party and go out with my friends.
Four years later, I ended up graduating in digital marketing. I flew to Sri Lanka where I worked in a French travel agency as a marketing specialist.
It was then that yoga came into my life ... but with difficulty.
A French friend living in Sri Lanka who inspired me to attend classes. I went backwards. I had a very bad experience before and judged yoga too slow and boring.
After a few months of regular practice, the yoga virus spread through me and I felt the need to practice more and more often. It was at this time that, slowly, thoughts began to be resounding in my head. I questioned all my life choices, whether professional or personal.
What was my goal in life? Do I want to spend my time behind a desk? How can we help society more?
I decided to leave everything and leave to travel and teach yoga!
Become a yoga teacher
In 2018, I fly for a few months in Asia. On the program, all of South East Asia (the typical backpacker route: Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, ...) and Pakistan. I had intentionally failed to tell my parents that I was going to visit this country so as not to worry them.
I planned to visit India, so why not go for a walk with your neighbor?
Before starting this trip, I wanted to start training to become a yoga teacher. The goal was more to deepen my knowledge than to teach yoga.
Anyway it was all or nothing: either I enjoyed practicing yoga intensively for 1 months, or I was bored and it was not my way.
I fell in love even more.
The training to become a yoga teacher lasted one month (200h). She was approved by Yoga Alliance and focused on getting to know each other so she could teach yoga. We had Hatha lessons, anatomy, meditation, sequence creation and philosophy spread over days starting at 6h and ending at 19h. Suffice to say that it is an intensive yoga training!
By October 2018, I had become another person. I had come out changed, physically and mentally. This intense training made me confident that I had everything I needed to create the life I wanted.
In September 2018, just before this training to become a yoga teacher, I had been in Pakistan for a month and I loved this country. I was exhausted by India where scams were common and men sometimes a little touch.
Even though these two countries are enemy brothers, they have a lot in common. In particular the diversity of cultures. If you decide to travel to Pakistan from North to South, you will meet people of different religions (even if the main one is Islam) and different languages.
The Pakistanis welcomed me to their home as if I were their own daughter. They guided me to incredible scenery, had extraordinary experiences and met fabulous people.
It was during my stay in the Swat region (North of Pakistan) that I met a German-Pakistani couple who strongly encouraged me to return to this wonderful country after my training as a yoga teacher.
That's what happened.
At the end of my yoga teacher training, I went to Amritsar and crossed the border to settle in Pakistan.
It had never been in my program to settle in Pakistan. I had to leave for Nepal initially and then fly to Indonesia. I hesitated a lot and finally made the decision to move to Lahore, the capital of Pakistan's Punjab.
Nepal, it will be for later.
How to teach yoga in Pakistan?
As a yoga teacher now, I was wondering: how to give yoga classes in Pakistan?
Thanks to Instagram, I was able to meet some teachers of yoga and meditation. We saw each other around a winery and Saba offered me to teach in her yoga studio. At the same time, I met a woman who wanted to have private yoga classes and she recommended me to several of her friends.
A month after my arrival, I gave 3 group classes and 8 private classes a week.
What about Pakistanis and yoga?
It is true that one might think that, as a Muslim country, Pakistan would not be the most open country to practice. Well, if! Yoga is so popular in Western countries that the Pakistani upper class is just looking for it too. Many understand that yoga has no religion, especially since there are many Pakistani yoga teachers.
People have been open to receiving classes and know how much yoga has many benefits for physical and mental health.
These 10 dream months were punctuated by event trips where I gave yoga classes to a large public, a move to Islamabad where I taught in the two main yoga studios (Barakah and Mind Body Soul) and the adventures with Belgian and Pakistani friends that I filmed and put on my YouTube channel ("I am Lema").
Organize a yoga retreat in Pakistan
Around May 2019, I began to think about creating a yoga retreat in the mountains of Pakistan. What a beautiful message it will send back to the world: "Pakistan is not as dangerous as we want to make us believe!
This yoga retreat was the last and the best experience in Pakistan
It was a real revelation for me. It took place in the region of Hunza and 15 people participated: 15 souls who trusted me. The retreat focused on self-confidence and well-being.
However, organizing this retreat had not been easy: you had to find the right hotel and the right company, which could organize everything.
Obviously, everything was not perfect but it remains logistic. I wanted a menu 100% vegetarian but it is quite difficult to remove the meat if the cook can not do anything else. This will be my challenge for the next retirement.
I also wanted a yoga retreat that stands out: I wanted adventure and we were served.
Departure from Pakistan
My departure from Pakistan was in September 2019, 10 months after my arrival. I left this marvelous country by the same gate that saw me enter: the Wagah border.
A word on this border: do not be afraid! She is very easy to cross.
If you plan to go to India, I strongly advise you to apply for a Pakistani visa. This visa is increasingly accessible thanks to the Pakistani government that wants to go ahead and open its doors to the world.
Back to India to follow a new intensive yoga training
Having left Pakistan, I return to India where I am a second training to become a yoga teacher: the formation of 300h. I wanted to deepen my knowledge and be able to offer more to my future students.
My previous training had been done with Siddhi Yoga in Dharamsala. This one, I had decided to follow it to Rishikesh in order to be able to follow the courses of different "gurus" and to initiate me to Ashtanga Vinyasa.
I like to attend different types of yoga but the one I teach and more like a very flowy vinyasa yoga, like a dance. It's a real pleasure to move with your breath.
My tips for new yoga teachers
For new yoga teachers, I would advise you to continue to train, be curious and go to other teachers' courses. Little by little, you will create your own style of yoga that you will enjoy teaching. It will evolve at the same time as you, your students and that is what makes the beauty of teaching.
Believe in yourself and do not hesitate to teach yoga. All yoga teachers are scared when giving their first class.
In one year, I became much more entrepreneurial in my professional life, safer and I learned to surround myself with good people.
New yoga projects in mind
Today, I have different projects that fascinate me: teaching yoga wherever I go in the world, creating content for my YouTube channel, my Instagram page and finally, creating yoga retreats in Pakistan.
I want to show the French public that Pakistan is the next destination where everyone will go. But I especially want to take yoga yogis and "badass" adventures with me to share my two passions.
If after this article you still doubt that Pakistan is an incredible country where I felt totally safe and lived the most beautiful moments of my life, do not hesitate to contact me.
In the meantime, continue to practice yoga and do not hesitate to follow your dreams because they are only a step away and it's up to you to do it. Use yoga as a tool to take care of yourself, reduce your fears and take you where you never thought you could go.