Yoga Love

Yoga has been around for around 5,000 years and some researchers say it’s been around for 10,000 years! Yoga has been mastered and perfected over all this time. One of the most things I love about yoga is that it is very detailed. For each pose, you’re instructed on what to do with your legs, arms, core, neck and even where you should gaze. Of course with special instructions for those who have special conditions.

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The beautiful thing about yoga is that it’s not limited to the physical poses. You can carry your practice off the mat and let it change your perception on life. It teaches you how to be an observer. As this yoga teacher puts it, “be an observer of your practice, not a critic”. How to be patient and nonjudgmental. Most importantly, it has taught me how to be mindful and how to breathe. It shows you the benefits of surrendering, letting go, and being in the moment.

be an observer of your practice, not a critic

During my last vacation to North America, I tried to go to as many yoga classes as possible. Even though it was expensive, it’s a worth it. Because each yoga teacher has her or his own way of conducting a class. Each yogi will adjust your alignment a little bit until you accumulate all these adjustments from different cues that you will remember for years; when you practice, or maybe when you teach, then you’ll pass those cues on to your students.

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As much as I love practicing alone and doing my own flow, I find classes very beneficial. In classes, I’m able to really challenge myself. The teacher’s reminders help me stay present and focus on my breath. They leave me with inspiring thoughts and remind me to stay kind. Clear and loving thoughts, intentions, and communications. Yoga is a way of living mindfully.

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By practicing yoga, I’ve discovered myself. I’ve let go of competition; I no longer compare myself to the person next to me. We are all different; it’s unfair to compare ourselves to anyone. It opened my mind as I tried many different types of yoga. I participated in Kundalini yoga, where we chanted  and om’ed together. I kept an open mind during the class. It was different and strange, but I could feel the vibrations when we chanted the Sanskrit phrases together. I could feel the energy of the room, my emotions rising inside of me as we chanted, and the light feeling I had inside of me as I was leaving the class.

I discovered that I love hot yoga. A kind of yoga I used to dislike strongly. Now I think it’s beneficial when the heat is gradually increasing. It makes me more in tune with my body and breath. My mind wanders less. I’m present and I’m feeling it all.

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That leads me to the best yoga class I have ever attended. It left me inspired and filled with love. The teacher gave us verbal instructions and only demonstrated the poses when needed. She corrected our postures as she quietly walked around us. We were encouraged to listen to our bodies and always had the option to go to a more advanced pose or to go to child’s pose when needed.

The teacher was fully present for the students. Attending to anyone who needed her help. No air conditioning. No music. The speed of the class was just right. I didn’t feel at any moment that I was rushing through my asanas.


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Now my favorite way to practice is in my room in a warm temperature. Sometimes I like to move in silence or with instrumental music. Always listening to my body and my breath. It made me notice where I hold tension in my body, usually in my knees or shoulders. Some people hold tension in their jaw, hips, or forehead. So I invite you to relax, straighten your back, listen to your breath, then start to notice what parts of your body are tense. Tell yourself to relax those parts and keep noticing your breath.

This practice has helped me be more compassionate, in touch with my feelings, and to practice non-greed. It reminds me to be thankful and to be present. It taught me to let go of the things I cannot control. To have trust in my path. To understand we should not concern ourselves with desires; because that creates suffering.

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It taught me to be in the present moment. Everything is alright in the present. Stop worrying about the future and stop regretting the past. Right now everything’s good.

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Before yoga, I struggled with anger issues and stress that gave me patches of gray hair and digestive issues. Give yoga a chance. Try many different types of yoga. Don’t give up after the first class. It takes some time to calm your mind before you can enjoy yoga. Hopefully, soon I’ll post a yoga guide on how to start a yoga practice.

Namaste

 

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Yoga Everywhere & Anywhere

When I used to lift weights, traveling caused me stress because I worried about my workouts. Exercise should never cause you stress. I knew that I would be fine if I went a few days or weeks without working out, but my body itches when I don’t move it for a while. And I knew that it would affect my happiness if I didn’t find a gym. In other words, I needed my endorphins.

That was my struggle until I fell in love with yoga. cheesy, I know. Moving freely is a blessing. That’s yoga for me. You can practice it anywhere. You don’t need anything. Not a mat or even clothes. Sure, both will provide comfort, but they’re not necessary. Everything you need is within you.

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Sometimes when I travel I leave my yoga mat behind to create a challenge for myself. To get out of my comfort zone. I’ve practiced on the beach, where sand would stay in my hair for days to follow. On grass that left marks on my hands when I do arm balances. In child pose, some carpets smelled funky and some smelled nice. My toes found it difficult to roll from upward dog to down dog when I practiced on concrete. Benches had me balance in my splits; something I needed to work on. Airplanes with their tight spaces limited me and forced me to be creative. Sand created a safe place to practice my handstands.

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Some places were loud and distracting. Some were calming with relaxing sounds and a nice view. Sometimes strangers would ask to join me. Afterward, we become friends. Kids would stare shyly at me wanting to learn how to move the way I do. The best part, I learned to let go of my fear of judgment. Fear that people would judge my imperfect poses or others thinking that I’m showing off when I do advanced poses. Fear of closing my eyes in savasana and not knowing what’s happening around me.

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If you’ve ever been to RUH you know that it’s one of the worst airports out there. Anyways, before my flight in Riyadh, I had a few hours to spare and since it’s counterproductive to sit before a long flight, I decided to do some yoga. Most people would consider this crazy because Riyadh is a very conservative city. But I have a thing with crazy.

I found a corner and practiced for an hour or so. The whole time I thought someone is gonna come to kick me out. But that didn’t happen. I only got some stares and when I looked up I saw some people staring at me from the upper floor which cracked me up. But it was worth it. That yoga session helped a lot with my flight. I slept for most of the time and when I got to Frankfurt I was very energized that I did yoga again before my second flight.  However, there it was a different experience. I didn’t feel like anyone was staring at me. For the exception of a few little kids.

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As I get older, I find my confidence to grow with me. Recently I started doing yoga in public places when I feel like I need to move. People will most likely stare. But it doesn’t matter. It’s a beautiful feeling  when you stop worrying about meaningless fears. It’s freeing. You can practice yoga anywhere. You can practice without even moving your body, but I’m going to leave that for another topic.

 

Non-Attachment

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It seems like within each generation we consume more and more and in an unsustainable matter. Life has become very convenient for the consumer that we have forgotten that convenience comes with a price. One simple example that bothers the shit out of me is plastic water bottles. Side note: it takes at least 450 years for plastic to degrade so just use a fucking reusable bottle.

I think because of how much we have been mindlessly consuming, the term minimalism has risen recently. We have been seeing the concept of living a minimalist life all over the internet. Guides on how to get rid of the clutter in your life, encouraging you to donate most of the stuff you have that no longer inspire you or serve a purpose in your life. If you have never tried to clear things in your life, from clothes, furniture, even people in your life, then I highly encourage you to do so. Sometimes even the simple act of deleting pictures and songs from your phone can show you how much we are attached to superficial items that will not affect our lives.

We see millions of people wasting their lives doing jobs they hate, stuck in some office a third of their day just so they can afford to have ‘nicer’ things then they keep going in this cycle because they’re never satisfied and they always want more and better stuff.

“Have a mind that is open to everything, and attached to nothing”

Being a minimalist has its benefits, but that’s not exactly the same as non-attachment. I would say that those two concepts are related, but when it comes to non-attachment, you live a ‘normal’ life, you don’t have to donate half of your stuff or live out of a backpack.

Non-attachment is a state of mind where you just have to let go of everything in your life. That does not mean you no longer care about these things, quite the opposite actually. You appreciate them more, realize that at a certain time they will be gone, and you are okay with that because you know that life moves on and that nothing lasts forever, therefore, you take it all in the way it is without any expectations, just appreciation.

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Accepting your life in all its ways no matter how things are going and realizing that you can live without anything.  We often hear others and ourselves say things like, I can never live without my phone, a person in their lives, or as a vegan, I hear “cheese” a lot.

“Letting go gives us freedom and freedom is the only condition for happiness.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

You know you are attached when you notice that your happiness is depending on that thing or person. Another sign is to see whether it brings you real joy or if it’s something you keep wanting more of it without being satisfied. It’s a freeing feeling to think of all the objects in your life and believing that you can happily live without any of them. Having this mindset allows you to adapt easily to any situation and be happy from within, not by external objects.

 

Mindful Consumption استهلاك بتفكير

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Last month I worked with KOOOT to publish the article Mindfull Consumption on their website. KOOOT is a new website made by Arab women for Arab women. It will be offering online shopping for international brands that are not yet available in the Middle East. The website also offers articles written in English and Arabic on topics focusing on style, work, home, motherhood, and “between us”.

What I love about this new community is that it is offered in English and Arabic. A much needed area in the Arab world. It focuses on educating and entertaining topics that will you enjoy while improving your life.

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Please, no more waste. I know that can be challenging in countries that don’t recycle, but we can all reuse! So go check out my article Mindful Consumption to discover how you can reduce your carbon footprint and for tips on how to live an eco-friendly lifestyle.

الشهر الذي فات كتبت مقال لموقع كوت. موقع جديد يمنح فرص تسوق الاكتروني و”سواليف” للمرأة العصرية، تحدياََ في العالم العربي. المقال .الذي كتبت عنه يتخصص في اهمية الاستهلاك بتفكير و كيف يمكنك بدا نمط حياة يساعدك على التقليل من بصمتك الكربونيه. هذا الموضوع جدا

اضغط/اضغطي هنا لقرأة المقال

 

The Happy Vegan-Book Review

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First off, let me say that I love the title of the book. It’s clear and not misleading; it’s for people who are already thinking about going vegan or are curious about vegan lifestyles. The Happy Vegan is exactly what this book is about. How to be a happy vegan and why.

I love how this book is organized. The sequence is perfect for someone who’s thinking about becoming vegan. He presents the information on why you should go vegan in a very interesting way and it’s easy to read. As he mentioned in an interview; he said he wants everyone to be able to read this book. I love the information he provides for new vegans to check out and the tips he gives out on how to transition to a vegan lifestyle. Smart and helpful tips.

At the end of the book, he added a section about meditation that I loved! I personally think that everyone should meditate and in his book he explains the process of how to start meditating because interesting enough, it’s not as easy as some people think. Yeah, you just sit there but trust me; your brain can be tough sometimes. I love the tips he gives out in this chapter. VERY helpful.

Now for the things I didn’t like. It bothered me so much that he didn’t talk more about vitamin B12 enough. B12 was the main reason why I didn’t go vegan earlier in my life. I remember I used to think if a vegan diet was meant for humans and that we’re actually herbivores then how are we supposed to survive without B12 since according to most people it only comes from animal sources? That was my logic for being vegetarian for about 5 years and not vegan. After I did my research, I found out that B12 used to be found in the soil, but now with conventional farming; B12 is not available in the soil anymore. Also, B12 is found in dirt and since we’re very clean and wash veggies and fruits we don’t get B12 naturally. I’ve also read somewhere that even the B12 in animals is also fortified (I’m not sure how legit that is but I’m buying it.) So back to the book; he mentions that you can just take a pill and you’ll be good to go. Why not just eat fortified food such as nutritional yeast? Furthermore, B12 gets stored in our bodies so if you’ve been eating animal products your whole life, then you’re probably fine. Even if you decide to take supplements it’s not like it’s an everyday thing.

The other thing that bothered me was that there were so many spiritual messages. I personally like that, but I feel like it can turn away many people and it will make them think of veganism as a ‘hippie thing’ I get that he’s a spiritual person, but maybe ease a little bit on that vibe just so people don’t turn away, that’s all. This didn’t bother me as much, just what I thought when I pictured some people I know reading this book.

Other than those two negatives things, I think you should read this book. It’s entertaining, interesting, informative, and easy to read. Oh and very organized! I loved that. Even if you have been vegan for a while, this book will still be useful to you. I think it works well as a reference. Also, as a mentioned earlier it contains tips on how to make your vegan journey easier and how to deal with social encounters.

I Haven’t Decided Yet

If you knew me, you’d know that I’m a pretty indecisive person; it’s annoying sometimes. I’ve tried to change that about myself for several years. Until I realized that not deciding right away gives me the opportunity to check out other options; learn more.

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Sometimes you just gotta lay down and listen to good music, but what’s good music? Well, that’s completely up to you.

Music does weird shit to me. I love it too much, it impacts my day more than it should. I wonder where this love comes from, it doesn’t make sense to me. How can I love something so much yet not understand; I don’t even know how to read notes or play an instrument. Maybe that’s why I love it. I didn’t study music, no one tried to complicate it to me. In my mind it’s simple. It’s a way to dive deep into the mood I’m in or change my mood depending on what I want to do. 

I don’t think I’ve understood the power of living in the moment until well, now. When you’re living in the present, you’re not worried because you’re not thinking/living in the future nor are you angry, upset, or sad because you’re living in the past. You start noticing how good it feels to be alive. The sunlight, the air around you, the air in your lungs. Maybe you’re in pain, but it’s alright; you can endure it, just breath and take it all in. It’s fine and it’ll always be fine, not just at the end like we always say. No, even during that painful moment, it’s fine.

Excuse my ‘hippie’ moment. I think that marks as a big moment in my life. A moment that got built up by many others and will continue to build up as I continue to improve myself without self-judgment, comparison, and competing.

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My father raised us to be pretty competitive. I love my dad, but I hate that he did that. I asked my siblings how they feel about competition and they got very confused with my question. After some explaining they answered. What struck me was my little sister’s response (she’s 11 years old) she said that it makes her stressed. She’s very smart, self-motivated, and competitive. My mom told me once that sometimes she doesn’t sleep at night if she has an exam or a competition coming up. I don’t think that’s right. All of this reminded me of a research paper I did in college about Finland’s education system and how it’s considered one of the best in the world; their methods will surprise you! My favorite one is that they don’t encourage competition whatsoever. Oh and no testing, only learning.

Click here if you want to learn more about Finnish education.

In my case, competition scares me; it makes me stressed. Sometimes it makes me work harder and other times it makes me feel discouraged. Most of the time it’s a combination of stress, discouragement, fear, and self-hatred. Maybe competition makes us work harder, but even if it does, I think there are better methods to make us work more efficiently. Basic motivation tactics, recognition, teamwork,  goal setting, and many others.

It’s not fair for anyone to compare themselves to anyone else. Everyone is different, no one lives the same life, each one of us goes through different shit. So why from the minute we’re born we are compared to others. Then we enter the education system and it just keeps getting worse. Maybe competition works, maybe yeah it does make people work harder in the short run then eventually, people burn out.

I just googled “competition” and an interesting definition came up. According to Wikipedia, “competition is the opposite of cooperation”.

I like to remind myself that; yes, there’s a lot of competition out there, but there’s also an unlimited space for success.

 

 

Fasting For Your Body, Mind, and Soul

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You’ve probably heard a lot that you should eat every few hours and not eat when you’re “starving” because that’ll make you eat more than what you need. You’ve probably also heard that not eating for a few hours will make your body go on “starvation mode” and will slow down your metabolism. I used to believe all of that. But it didn’t make sense to me, fasting made me feel good, it’s challenging especially when you don’t drink water either. I fast for religious and spiritual reasons and I think that’s what makes it different. If you fast because you ate too much the previous day or just to lose weight; you’re missing the whole point and that’s not healthy, mentally and physically.

About those facts you keep reading on the internet. First of all, fasting does not equal starvation, fasting will make you hungry yes, which is good for your body every now and then to “reset” and give your digestive system a break. Starving means not eating for days, starving means you are extremely fatigued, delusional, and might die if you don’t eat something soon. Know the difference, and as long as you can function properly, you’re fine.

Fasting Does Not Equal Starvation

  • It’s been proved that fasting improves hunger. Personally and many people I know will tell you that by the end of Ramadan fasting becomes a lot easier and that their bodies are used to it. That is because fasting makes you experience what real hunger feels like, being hungry before lunch time might disappear after you try fasting a few times. I personally “feel” hungry a lot, but that is because I eat a lot through the day so my body is used to being filled with food, that is why I think that fasting is important for my body, especially because I lift heavy and that makes me feel hungry very often, leg day anyone? 
  • This one grabs most people’s attention. Fasting can actually help you lose weight and speeds up your metabolism. Intermitted fasting is practiced by many athletes who are trying to get lean and lose body fat before an event or competition. It’s important to remember that as long as you don’t fill your body with junk/deep fried food when you break your fast. Doing that will make you feel discomfort and will harm your digestive system (basically undo what you just did) so it is recommended that you eat a light-moderate meal when you break your fasting, this is harder than it sound, especially when you first start fasting. Try having soup, 3 to 7 dates, and water when you break your fast. Soup is easy to digest and will fill you up and the dates will re-energize you.
  • Improves how your other organs function, balance your hormones, and can clear up your skin! Because the body is not busy digesting food, it can spend more energy on your other organs and get rid of toxins in your body.
  • In my religion one of the reasons we fast if because it makes us think of all the misfortunate humans around the world who can’t find nourishment, fasting makes me thankful because even when I’m hungry, at least I know that at sunset I have a meal and clean water ready for me to consume. It also makes me appreciate every bite and every sip of water more and eat mindfully. You rarely see someone break their fasting in front of the tv!
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Breaking my fast on our unattached kitchen, because the sun set before I finished cooking. Oops.

Tips on Fasting:

  1. Break you fasting with 3,5, or 7 dates
  2. Drink a lot of water before you start fasting
  3. Prepare and plan your meal before you get too hungry
  4. Avoid fried and junk food when breaking your fasting
  5. Soup is great when breaking your fast as it is easy on the digestive system
  6. Go easy on caffeinated beverages as they dehydrate your body
  7. Eat a large nutritional meal right before you start your fast
  8. Go outside and be productive to distract yourself from the hunger
  9. Give your fast a purpose. Think of all the starving children and people around the world and how lucky you are for knowing that in a few hours you will have a meal ready just for you.

Fasting can vary from day to day, it makes me learn more about myself and what motivates me. Some days I get very lazy and just watch Netflix but then right before futoor I get very energized and start cooking and cleaning. I found that going outside for a walk or a foodless picnic is helpful. Hanging out with friends or talking on the phone are great too. I personally think that fasting is 75% mental. I remember one of the days I was fasting in the US and it was Ramadan. That day Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q were coming to my city, and oh boy was I excited. I biked that day for about 30 minutes to my friend’s house as fast as I could without even getting tired or hungry, I didn’t even care about water. We walked to the concert and I sneaked in some dates in, and by the time it was time to break my fast, I didn’t really feel like it, but I ate anyways.