Shamshad Haider – aka Yogi Haider, is one of the unacknowledged heroes of Pakistan who is on a mission to promote Yoga in Pakistan as well as the benefits it holds within. For growing the awareness of Yoga in Pakistan, Yogi Haider has centered his approach encompassing the health benefits rather than aligning it with any specific religion or race. An effort that once seemed an exercise in futility, Haider has been able to pull it off quite successfully in a conservative country like Pakistan, where Yoga is considered a Hindu practice by the custodians of Islam. On the 21st of June, where the world celebrated the International Yoga Day, and the news was widespread all across the international media, Haider did yogic asanas along with his 20 thousand students which did not catch the media attention.
The inclination of Haider towards dedicating his life in spreading the awareness of Yoga in Pakistan comes in a very attractive format. While he was in Saudi Arabia early on, he suffered pain in the appendix and was advised an operation as its only cure. Haider rejected the doctors’ recommendation and went on reading on the subject of Mind Sciences on the advice of a Somalian doctor. He soon realized that the Mind has a far greater impact on our body, and soon the quest of learning more about the subject changed his life. He further went on discovering further that led him to discover more about Yoga and its benefits and impacts – traveling to various countries including India, Tibet, Nepal and China to soothe the thirst. His wife, who came to him as a student to overcome Asthma, also became his partner in teaching Yoga in Pakistan.
Pakistan, a rather conservative country where a good majority thinks that Yoga is associated with Hinduism, and adapting the same is against the teachings of Islam. However, Yogi Haider rejects the proposition and considers Yoga as one of the finest forms of meditation that is very useful in keeping your body and soul in shape. Yogi Haider is often referred to as Pakistan’s Baba Ramdev – the man who stands on the mission of expanding the message of Yoga all across the country. In his words, just like Baba Ramdev has taken Yoga to every household in India, Haider aims to do the same in Pakistan. In 2014, a yoga center run by one of his friends was burned, but that has not shaken him from continuing his mission.
Shamshad Haider is based out of the province of Punjab and works for growing Yoga awareness in Pakistan under the center called “Yoga Pakistan” and “Way of Nature” that provides both public (free) and private (paid) training. The institution boasts of having 10 thousand students that are spread all across the country including Karachi, Lahore, and Rawalpindi, having 50 clubs in Lahore alone. One of the most interesting factors about Yogi Haider’s Institute is the diverse class of students who belong to many different sections of the society; including doctors, students, bureaucrats, armed forces and much more. Some of the notable personalities include Ghulam Mustafa Khar (former Punjab Governer) and Qaim Ali Shah (Sindh Chief Minister). Even the Pakistan Cricket Board contacted him to help the cricketers fight strain and fatigue.
Pakistan Government does not officially recognize the International Yoga Day, but it never stopped the citizens from observing it. It has allowed Yogi Haider to promote Yoga in Pakistan and hold yoga camps across the country. Haider is of the view that Yoga should not be affiliated with any religion – it is the knowledge of Mind Sciences, and any science can never be the sole ownership of any society or a country. He sends a very clear message to the so-called guardians of the faith that yoga has nothing to do with the religion. Yoga is a physical and mental discipline, and no acquired training can take the place of your Ibadat with the creator.
Yoga in Pakistan has attracted a good number of audience and its still influencing people in adapting it in their daily lives. It helps to augment mental stability and balanced living. Yogi Haider’s journey as a teacher of Yoga in Pakistan has been very successful so far – but with all his efforts entirely unnoticed by the media. It is the time where we should realize the secret power engulfed in Yoga that provides a feeling of serenity. The political difference should be kept aside, and Yoga should be recognized as a tool for healthy living. The face of Yoga in Pakistan – Yogi Haider, an unsung hero, is a perfect example of determination to spread the real gist of Yoga rather than just playing gimmicks on a political level.
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