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Posted at: Jun 21, 2016, 1:46 AM; last updated: Jun 21, 2016, 1:46 AM (IST)

Yoga fever in Pakistan too

Enthusiasts say it has nothing to do with religion
Yoga fever in Pakistan too
Yoga guru Shamshad Haider performs an asana in Lahore.

Rachna Khaira

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 20

Hundreds of yoga clubs run by Muslim Yoga practitioners have come up across Pakistan. These clubs are holding free sessions for yoga enthusiasts and are geared up to commemorate the International Yoga Day tomorrow, though unofficially.

Yoga guru Shamshad Haider, founder of Yoga Pakistan, which is running around 50 clubs in Lahore alone, said Pakistan had come a long way since a yoga centre was burnt in Islamabad’s affluent Bani Gala suburb in March 2014.

“The Pakistan government does not observe the yoga day, but it never stopped its citizens from doing so. It has granted us permission to hold yoga camps on its land and has also allowed us to promote yoga,” said Haider.

He, however, said the ongoing summer holidays and the festivals of Ramzan and Eid might play a spoilsport in organising the International Yoga Day.

“Even if there will be events, these will remain a low-key affair,” said Haider, while speaking to the Tribune over phone from Tilla Jogian, a renowned monastery in the Punjab province of Pakistan.

Haider said unlike India, yoga enthusiasts in Pakistan did not associate Yoga to a particular religion or ideology.

“Yoga belongs to humanity in the form of a pure science and is not the sole entity of India. While Indian Hindus and Muslims are fighting over its origin and the way of practice, our clubs represent people from all sects of Muslims who have made it a part of their lives to reap its health benefits,” said Haider.

Maan Khalifah, a social activist based in Phalia city in Pakistan’s Punjab, said Yoga from India had reached their doorsteps. “Every day, I come across advertisements announcing the setting up of a new yoga club in this area,” he said. He said the maximum number of yoga clubs was in Lahore, while the trend was catching up various other cities as well.

Binish Hayat, international woman hockey umpire, said a conservative Muslim country like Pakistan had centered its approach on the health benefits of yoga instead of aligning it with any specific religion. She said budding hockey players were practicing yoga regularly to attain fitness through it.

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