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A New Chapter in Young Parents’ Lives

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Saba Danawala has found her true calling in the work she does. Intrigued by the mysterious and beautiful process of birth, she went out of her way to understand the process like no one else. Her discoveries and passion to help the growing community of young mothers has translated itself into her passion project: Rise and Rebirth. This unique yoga experience helps women sort through not only their physical; but mental health conditions for the duration of their pregnancy and early stages of motherhood.

1) How did rise and rebirth come into being?

For years I was not sure if I ever wanted children. In response, all I ever heard was “haw haye” as if I was some sort of freak. I didn’t touch the topic and mostly avoided it – until I got married. I realize that the process of pregnancy and postpartum is quite scary. And the horror stories don’t help. I decided that rather than just listening to stories, I wanted to explore the world of birth more closely. With evidence from observing real labor (and so far, I have not fainted nor thrown up), and collecting data that backs best practices. I wanted to explore how women have been dealing with their pregnancies and coping with motherhood for generations; all over the world. I then wanted to combine this with factual evidence and take a more scientific approach towards the birthing process. It was in this exploration that Rise and Rebirth was born (no pun intended).In my prenatal yoga check-ins, women express similar feelings to the ones I had: not feeling as though they have enough emotional support during this overwhelming period; or feeling dismissed. And in many ways through them, I learned the power and gift of being able to nurture. We always talk about nurturing babies; but who holds and nurtures the mothers who carry them? And this is why I started Rise & Rebirth. So that it could be a space to nurture young mothers through this tough but beautiful time.

2) What are some of the qualifications and experiences you had to gain before launching a program
such as Rise and Rebirth?

I myself was born and raised in the US, but both my parents are from Karachi. I came to Pakistan only after I got married. Before moving here, I earned my master’s degree in public health (MPH) from the University Of Texas Health Science Center; and I’ve worked in the public health sector for almost 10 years on various health issues. But my passion has always been reproductive and maternal health. My first practicum was with a neonatal health intervention in South Asia. I am also a yoga alliance certified prenatal yoga teacher (RPYT-85) and a 200-hour teacher in hatha, Vinyasa, and Kundalini yoga from my home state of Texas! Currently I'm completing my training with CPPD London as a mental health counselor specializing in maternal mental health; and am seeing clients with clinical supervision.

3. What made you decide to combine yoga with mental health therapy?

Gradually more and more evidence has come about to point to a fundamental truth that we are only now starting to see: the body and the mind are not only deeply connected, but the body is an imprint of the mind. As well as all our past experiences, beautiful or painful. A job that focuses on both body and mind requires constant learning, exploration, and a deep understanding of what the body needs. I am still learning how to do this myself. My favorite work around this topic is by Bessel van der Kolk and the way his research has helped create the movement around trauma-informed yoga. I see yoga as a great avenue for connecting with the body, but it is by no means a substitute for the work that needs to be done in therapy. For too long, the conversational model of therapy has dominated the mental health space. It’s a pleasure to see more practitioners breaking that mold to incorporate more of the body.

4. Becoming a parent is a drastic life change. How do your classes help couples to prepare for this
change?

Our classes help couples to build honesty with each other and actually acknowledge how they feel about the upcoming birth in a safe space. Being a parent is difficult on both partners and there are very few reminders that this is a team effort. These classes are about a relatively new change in our society- the involvement of the father. Fathers in our society have been seen with such a rigid lens during birth: to fulfill materialistic needs and leave the physical exertion to the woman. I find this more harmful than helpful, and it only perpetuates the stereotype that the birth process and childcare should be in the hands of women. I have even noticed two prominent scenarios: husbands who walk into my couples’ sessions are either very caring and want to support their wives. Or they are a little apprehensive and genuinely just need help and training on how to be there for their wives; that’s perfectly fine! The feedback I’ve gotten from these new mothers is that their husband’s constant reminder to breath, affirmations, and techniques of soothing go a long way in making the birth experience not a chore.

5. What are some of the best measures a couple can take to get into the right mindset to welcome
their child?

Acquiring knowledge and being open to the changes that take place in a marriage when a child is born. Couples must try to create the optimal environment for the baby even before it leaves the womb. Perinatal psychology points out how important it is to understand the circumstances around a child’s birth. So, a couple who prioritizes their marriage and builds that trust and team-effort- mentality is more likely to be able to cope with the difficult times.

6. In a country where having a mental health illness is heavily stigmatized, how do you manage to break the ice and make your clients feel comfortable?

It’s all about the relationship; building that trust, respect, and being able to hold space for our clients. I don’t care what swanky technique you’re using or what big words you throw out, clients must connect to us as therapists – and as humans.

7. What are some of the most common problems your clients face in maintaining a positive mindset and what is your advice to combat such problems?

The last thing anyone who is feeling low wants to be told is “be positive”. Nobody can be positive all the time. Even to get near that level takes a lot of mental effort and clients would have to reframe limiting beliefs. They often face some tough situations in their lives: a stressful job or education, no support at home from family, societal pressure to conform to, and so much more. I refrain from giving advice because each client knows their truth better than anyone else could. What I encourage is that clients should take it slow. One day at a time. They should be around people and things that can take them out of their minds and into their bodies. They should really embrace the concept of continuous “healing” rather than wanting to be “fixed”.

8. Can you offer any advice to new mothers who may be struggling with postpartum depression or
with maintaining a healthy mindset?

Seek outside help if you aren’t getting the support you need at home. You aren’t crazy and it isn’t all in your head. And to all families out there: postpartum depression is not made up. It can be experienced by mothers AND fathers (yes, you heard that right). It includes good and bad days, and it is not the same as baby blues, so please refrain from comments like: “yeh sab ko hota hai”. If your loved one who delivered anywhere from 0-2 years ago is exhibiting any of the following signs, please don’t ignore them! Fatigue. feeling sad, hopelessness, and/or overwhelmed, trouble sleeping and eating, feelings of guilt and worthlessness, losing interest in things that you once used to enjoy, withdrawing from family and friends no interest in your baby, thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby.

9. What are some of the physical benefits that yoga can provide for pregnant women?

There are so many! But above all, the biggest one I’ve seen with my ladies is keeping prenatal anxiety contained. Here are some of the others:

-Improved sleep. Rested mama = happy mama
-Increase the strength, flexibility and endurance of muscles needed for childbirth.
-Acts like a relaxant to help the body undergo changes.
-Decreases lower back pain, nausea, headaches and shortness of breath.
-Helps you focus on yourself and your growing baby without outward distraction.

10. Pakistanis often feel that mental health issues are more prevalent in western countries; having spent time in the US do you think there is any truth to this assumption?

There is no truth to such an assumption. It is extremely painful to watch families deny mental health issues. If we can’t even talk about it, much less report it, then we can’t have a prevalence rate either (thank you, public health degree!)

11. Who would you recommend the rise and rebirth programs for?

Prenatal/Pregnancy Yoga: For women 12 weeks along into their pregnancies

Postpartum Support Group: For women anywhere from 0-18 months after delivery
Mindful Yoga: Perfect for beginners, those looking to reduce stress and/or COMPLEMENTARY
psychotherapy, and postpartum moms
Labor Preparation Workshops: For couples wanting to work through the physical demands of labor.

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Stepping into a Refreshing Lifestyle with Bisha Shabir

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Being one of the popular forms of exercise, yoga focuses on breathing, strength, and flexibility. It has innumerable physical and mental health benefits. Since 2012, the percentage of people practicing yoga has increased to a good number in adults as well as children. It encourages to exercise more, inspires to eat more healthfully, improves sleep quality and reduces stress levels.
In the time of this deadly pandemic, we all are staying home and searching for healthy outlets to survive. Through general research, it has been established that “yoga” is one of the trending activities that people are opting for in this situation to stay positive. Different experts are conducting online yoga classes and Bisha Shabir is one of them. She is the founder of a yoga studio called “The Yoga Wall”. Her tips are as interesting as her sessions to pull through this time in a productive and refreshing way.
We had a short conversation with the yogi and she definitely has important points to share.
Tell us about yourself? 
I first started practicing yoga in 2002 and taught for the first time in 2011; since my first class, yoga has always been a way for me to create greater physical space and emotional awareness in my body.
The joy I feel from teaching comes from being able to deconstruct physical postures and theories (traditional/contemporary) in a way to make them accessible to everyone. Yoga can look and feel so different to two individuals and it is empowering to understand what works for your body.  And that for me, is the foundation of self-healing.
I have studied anatomy and biomechanics in the context of movement as well as diving into work through understanding the nervous system and mindfulness practices. All these help bridge the gap between mind and body. Everyone and I mean EVERYBODY can practice yoga. You just need to figure out what that may look like for you and through this, I hope to inspire my students to develop long-term, sustainable practices for better health. Concepts of mindful-movement and therapies of the like support the development of yoga on and off the mat.
As a teacher, I am registered with The worldwide Yoga Alliance (as an E-RYT 200, RYT 500 and YACEP) and credit my teachers Holly Warren (YogaLondon), Jason Crandall (Vinyasa Method), Judith Hanson Lasater (Restorative Yoga), Tara Brach (Mindfulness Meditation) and Eka Ekong (YogaWorks). I am also fortunate to have studied with and/or influenced greatly by the teachings of Tiffany Cruikshank, Corrie MaCullum, Andrew McGonagall, and Celest Perera.
What exactly is “The Yoga Well”? 
The Yoga Well supports my dream to see the individuals depend on their relationship with their inner selves through practices that promote connection to the physical self and awareness across mental states. The human experience is a closed-loop, with the players being the physical body, the nervous system/mental space and our external environment. Mindfulness (awareness-based practice) helps the circulation within the loop to move smoothly.
The studio plays host to yoga classes, courses, free talks and by the end of the year, Yoga teacher training!
When did you realize you wanted to be a yogi?
A coach of mine made a suggestion that I add yoga to my training; I was 16 at the time and like most, I had preconceived notions on what the practice looks like.
I remember falling in love with yoga in my first class; since then, my personal practice has evolved and been a great influence on the way I view the world.
Teaching was happenstance- I was asked to assist in a workshop and then shortly after cover a yoga class. After that, as they say, the rest is history.
How do you keep yourself motivated for yoga every day? 
After experimenting with different ways, I figured that I am motivated by choosing smaller, shorter practices. This may range from laying on my back with props for five minutes in the day to a stronger, hour-long session. I discovered that the more planning involved kept me from getting onto my mat. So I choose according to my mood at the moment; what is calling out to me that particular day. I do have one requirement though- that I do something for at least five minutes a day.

This has been my personal experience but not necessarily how others may work. Some individuals thrive by setting out a specific time each day to do something on their mat; others need guidance in a class setting that may motivate them to practice regularly.
“Yoga doesn’t help you lost weight” – Your views? 
I think weight loss through yoga is an individual experience but cannot be marketed widely. Weight loss through yoga may be a by-product for some individuals but it is not guaranteed for all; burning fat is a metabolic process and while some people’s fat-loss is supported through a yoga practice, they are likely making other lifestyle changes to facilitate it.
I believe that yoga should not be approached as a means to influence the physical shape/outline/body fat percentage but to better understand what your mental habits are, how you move and how all of it reflects in your overall lifestyle.
It is important for me to reiterate here that yoga is a practice for the mind more than the body. Working in a physical way is a resource and tool to prepare the mind space.
Depression is home to the empty mind, what do you suggest for working women\men to do while working from home? 
I encourage everyone I meet to take some time to develop a short mediation practice every day. It takes five minutes to sit and notice your surroundings, eventually resting the attention on the breath to get you in the habit of meditating regularly. There are many helpful phone apps that can set you up!
5 general steps to stay away from depression these days? 
– Movement of any kind: yoga, training, running, climbing stairs, whatever gets your muscles moving. Remember to start small!
– Talk to people! Social engagement is important; it stimulates a safety response in our nervous system; thus alleviating stress and anxiety from being in self-isolation.
– Eat nutritious food; healthier food boosts your immune system, keeping your energy levels (and your mental state) balanced
– Take a pause every now and then. Just a minute or two to connect to your breath. Notice what it’s like. It’s depth; how it makes you feel. Is it full? Shallow? No matter what the reasons may be, simply notice what the breath FEELS like.
–  Similar to the breath practice, it helps to journal your thoughts a few minutes a day. Write about ANYTHING that comes to mind.
Are energies real? Do they really affect us?
You’ve probably heard the statement “your vibe attracts your tribe.” 
What we as humans project out energetically is what you bring back to ourselves. If you view the world through a guarded filter, you in effect, bring more of guarded energy to your life. If you view the world through the lens of understanding, compassion, you can better respond to challenges that arise.
How important is it to introduce physical activities in our routine in the current situation? 

There is an anatomical principle: “if you don’t use it, you lose it;” It’s super important for our muscle and mind memory to continue working, even from home. 
Movement and brain health are interconnected; doing something every day can reduce a feeling of restlessness. Our landscapes have changed drastically and the mind is still trying to catch up. By moving, you can bring back familiarity to your routine.
What has been your favorite spot in the north where you love performing yoga? 
I can’t choose one spot but I’ve had the pleasure of practicing outdoors in spaces with minimal human intervention. There is a certain peace and joy from being in an open space.
What are the 5 yoga poses that can help reduce stress and should be incorporated in daily routine?
1. Savasana (Corpse Pose)!
 It’s usually the last and final rest pose we practice in all yoga classes. A little tip though, you can practice Savasana on its own too! I teach restorative classes that only focus on different shapes of this pose and it’s incredibly grounding and stimulates a healing response in your body. It’s also very simple to do!
2. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)
 Downward Facing Dog is incredibly therapeutic. It energizes the body through strength as well as stretches bigger sets of muscles.
3. Viparita Karani (Legs up the wall) 
Laying on your back with your legs elevated is deeply relaxing and soothes the nervous system. Great for those who have trouble sleeping.
4. Set Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge pose- best with props) 
Laying in the bridge, with support under your sacrum is quite comforting, You can add some stretch by straightening your legs forward.
5. Balasana (Child’s pose): 
Again, a passive pose to help you slide inward.

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Body By Butter Introduces the Keto-Friendly scrumptious Dessert Menu

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This is the time when gyms have shut down, we cannot go out for jogging or a healthy walk and we are “trying” to look for healthy food options. Although we all are in search of productive activities to do, we certainly cannot control our diet. After all, what else Punjabis can do better than eating a new dish every day?
It is rightly said that an empty mind always diverts its attention towards the next meal.
Here we have got you a perfect rescue. Body By Butter not only serves the best keto savory flavors but also makes a range of desserts that are perfect for anyone following a ketogenic diet.
From their best-seller chocolate truffles, brownies and fresh strawberry cheesecake with almond crumble, they offer some delectable desserts like Chia Seeds Greek Yogurt with fresh strawberry jam and Chocolate mousse which are made with perfection and are probably the best options we all need for your sweet tooth.
So, sit back and order your favorite pick from their yummy menu now!!!

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‘Tere Saath’- a ballad of love and heartbreak

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Abdullah Qureshi is back with another superb single, which is sure to become your favorite song of this season. The single titled ‘Tere Saath’ is Qureshi’s first collaboration with renowned music producer Eahab Akhtar. The song has been sung and penned by both the artists while Akhtar has composed and produced the music.

The song was recorded over two days after Qureshi got a call from Akhtar to give a listen to the new track that he had made. Things came together from that point on, and here we are with a beautiful composition that is fun, quirky, sad, and impactful at the same time.

The song comes as a breather of fresh air in the current times when everyone is confined to their houses because of the global pandemic. The song, written in English and Urdu, is a fusion of contemporary and pop music. It’s a happy-sad song, something that hasn’t been done before.

The song is about a lover asking his beloved the age-old question that people usually ask in love, “How could you do this to me?” The lover reminisces about the dreams he had for them, but they could never be fulfilled. He says there isn’t anything left to be said between the two of them and that things happen in life. According to him, the world is full of liars. That is why he wants to speak the truth because he isn’t like others. All of that is said through an upbeat melody that is sure to get you grooving.

The overall feel of the song is very western but retains its flavor and soul with the use of simple yet powerful lyrics in Urdu. The arrangement of the song is equally unique with the use of instruments such as guitar, drums, and techno beats that transform you into a musical world.

 

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