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Q: Tell us about your Kundalini yoga journey
“I was always interested in it, my mom practiced Kundalini Yoga. I was around 13 years old when I took my first ‘official’ class, we were in LA and my mom took me to Gurmukh’s class at Golden Bridge. My mom used to do Gurmukh’s videos in Saudi all the time. From that moment, I fell in love with Kundalini.
When I moved to Canada for university in 2009 there was a Yoga West in Vancouver and I started going there. I always knew this was the type of yoga that spoke most to me.
Then I moved to Philadelphia and took an Ashtanga teacher training while still practicing Kundalini on the side. I was working as a consultant and was pretty unfulfilled with my job. Eight months into the yoga teacher training, I felt the need to bring this transformative practice of yoga to my home in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
I only knew of 2 teachers in my town, both were teaching out of their home, hot yoga and Iyengar yoga. I felt inspired by what they were doing but I felt we needed a center.
I had just gotten married, my in-laws were kind enough to give me part of their home to turn into a yoga studio. I was thrilled! So at the age of 25, in February 2015, I opened Karama.
My entire life revolved around it. I taught non-stop, 6 classes a day, 6 days a week, and taught 8 different styles to try to encourage women from all walks of life to try yoga. I felt the responsibility to educate my community about the diversity of the yoga world.
Two years later, I expanded Karama and moved it to the roof of of my home. It became an official Yoga Center. Yoga had just become recognized in Saudi Arabia (in June 2017).
The move to a new space was necessary. We could now accommodate almost 50 women per class instead of 12 in the old studio. The women loved Kundalini Yoga. It quickly became one of the most popular classes at the studio. We also started offering daily Sadhana and often have almost 20 women joining us. I now teach Kundalini Yoga two to three times a day and am mentoring three students to become Kundalini teachers.
I offer Karama to my community as a sacred and safe space, where all women feel included and empowered.”
Q: Tell us about the biggest personal challenge you overcame?
“Kundalini Yoga changed my life. I was very sick when I met Guru Jagat a year ago.
I had gone to dozens of doctors and nobody could explain why I was sick. She gave me a personal Sadhana that I have been doing every day since. My practice includes Nervous System Overhaul, Subagh Kriya and Sodarshan Chakra Kriya.
At Aquarian Business Academy in NYC this year, during a meditation, I had a vision. I got a clear message that I needed to expand my team. During break, I sent a message to several people and within an hour, I had a team of 7 people! It was time to trust that conscious communities are built hand-in-hand and not alone.
I am blessed to now have an incredible group of women as part of Karama who offer an extraordinary amount of talent and knowledge. In this past month, Karama’s growth has already exceeded everyone’s expectations and the best is yet to come!”
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Q: What is your vision for Karama?
“Growing up in Saudi and studying women & gender studies in university, I wanted to create a place where women could thrive. I had seen the prevalent lack of confidence and self-doubt women grew up with in our culture.
My mother is my biggest inspiration. She practices yoga, she is an ironman athlete, a professor, and a dentist. She went against all of the preconceived notions of what women could do. She taught in a local university when women were barely seen in the workforce, she became an entrepreneur and opened her own dental clinic and changed the standard of dental care in the country, and she was the first arab to compete and race in the ironman world championships. She taught me a fundamental teaching. Nothing is impossible, you can do it all, just commit and trust.
When women come to Karama, they feel at home. They know it’s a nurturing and welcoming space where they can get inspired, elevated, and connect with each other.
Karama has a great sense of community. We’ve built many relationships with women in our neighborhood and all around the city; some women even commute from an hour away. We also truly believe that yoga should be accessible to everyone. We offer programs where students can offer energy exchange and all our full and new moon classes are by donation.
My goal for Karama is to help women in Saudi Arabia live a consciously radiant life.”
Q: What were the hurdles you had to face in opening this space?
“Lack of resources and feeling alone a lot of the time. When I was teaching so many classes a day, I felt like I was always in the role of the teacher and it became draining and a big weight to carry.
I have since found a beautiful balance by having a steady personal practice, my morning Sadhana. I also take classes on RA MA TV and often travel to the US for trainings with Guru Jagat. I was craving being a student and am thrilled to be able to fulfill that longing.
I had also been teaching only in English and in an effort to make these teachings accessible to many, I am now aiming to teach more in Arabic.
Another challenge is self-doubt because, I found myself doubting my potential as a teacher and a leader. The responsibility of transforming and elevating the the idea of a woman in the middle east and the magnitude of the shift that comes from that is quite immense.
I spent July to October this year with Guru Jagat and since then, things have shifted powerfully.
I no longer doubt my potential, I feel energized and continuously crave to do more and serve more. I am on a whole different level. I was running on low gas, and now that I am very disciplined with my personal practice, I am confident that i have what it takes to live up to this role and breakthrough any barriers along this journey.”
Q: How are things for Women in Saudi these days? Can you drive?
“Yes! Women are now allowed to drive since June 2018. I cried when I got my license. That sense of freedom is unexplainable. Many local women are in the workforce now and I am so happy to say that the country is heading in a great direction.”
— As told to Nina Mongendre, Immense Grace 2018-19