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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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We hope you have an “On Sale and in your size” kind of a day, everyday

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The worst part of offline shopping is to see your favorite item on sale going out of stock for the reason of short spanned discounts and overcrowded stores. On top of that, it is extremely difficult to get your hands on a particular size right at the spot. 

Many of us are scared of online shopping, horrible return policies, and late deliveries. Thousands of scamming online portals have shaken our faith in cybershopping. But it is about time we started looking for reliable places that give us not just a hassle-free shopping experience but also help us stay within our allotted budget while offering quality products at the same time. 

 

Here comes this platform called Loot Sale. The main purpose of this Pakistan based E-commerce startup is to bridge the gap between the consumers’ want of constant discounts and retailers’ need for fast inventory turn-over. 

Its realistic motto “Pay Less, Shop More” is not just an ordinary line, in fact, it provides what it commits with its 24\7 sale that is available all day every day on most of the luxury brands. Accommodating to 220 million audiences of the 5th largest nation of the world: with over 75 fashion brands including BTW, Cross Stitch, Hop Scotch, Hush Puppies, LimeLight, Maria.B, Nishat, Orient, Stylo, The Linen Co, Zareen by Sapphire, just to name a few: everything on this website is at a mind-blowing discount. 

We still wonder how the man behind this initiative, CEO Malik Asad, came up with such a feasible and thoughtful idea. Known as an expert in the field of marketing and E-commerce having a strong finance background, he talked about his efficient business plan and shared, “Loot Sale’s goal is to build as a customer-centric brand, providing original products, offering a price-match guarantee and no-questions-asked return policy. The website has launched with an inventory of over 400,000 units, and stock is forecasted to list over 20 lac products showcasing 150 brands by the end of December 2020.” 

 

So, does that mean, more brands and more discounts?

 

Isn’t it kinda true that the word “Sale” makes everyone excited and happy? Not sure about you, but to us it definitely does. Thus, it is rightly quoted that every woman’s favorite line is “IT IS ON SALE”. And the best part about this digital marketplace is that the items are on sale 365 days of the year. 

In a time when the economy is declining and there is inflation all around the corner, we need more of such platforms. So, what are you waiting for? Go and check out this all in all paragon right now that is just one click away. 

 

 

 

 

 

www.instagram.com/loot.sale

www.facebook.com/lootsaleofficial

 

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Minaahil Umar- An Epitome of Grace and Grandeur

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Minahil, an architect by training, received her Bachelor of Architecture degree from the National College of Arts (NCA) in 2019. Before joining NCA, she studied at Lahore Grammer School where she pursued her interests in Art, Computer Science, and languages. Minahil’s work while at NCA revolved around Urban Architecture, particularly on reimagining South Asian cities.

Stunned by her eloquent talent for creating artistic visuals that are clearly visible through her work, we decided to catch up with the dedicated designer about her off-work routine.

What kind of a person Minaahil is when she is not working or designing?

Downtime is spent predominantly with family, especially my little angel daughter, truly a bundle of Joy.

What sparked your interest in fashion designing?

I’d always been observant and with the passage of time developed a firm understanding of fabric, designing, and color compatibility. I was already offering advice and guidance to friends, and it seemed only natural to take a step in this direction and introduce a revival in the Pakistani couture ecosystem.

Who has been your biggest inspiration from the fashion industry?
I have always been inspired by the originality of the idea or theme but if I have to pick a name — Coco Chanel tops the list; simple, elegant, and original.

Are you self taught or have you formally studied fashion? If so, from where?

The answer to this question is a bit more complex than a simple yes/no response. I didn’t major in fashion but went to what is without a doubt one of Pakistan’s best art schools – NCA that focused on our holistic development as artists. So, despite majoring in architecture, I received some form of training in a range of other arenas; fashion, theatre, music, and miniature art among other things.

 

How do you think Covid-19 has affected the world of couture? How has it affected your business?

COVID 19’s impact is rooted in its inherent uncertainty. We have experienced a massive disruption in our supply chains, have had to rework our workshops to ensure physical distancing, and developed alternative payment and delivery services.

When it comes to being an artist, what exactly are you most fascinated about that eventually becomes a part of your work of art?

They say ‘God lies in the details’. For me, details matter a lot. There’s a way to express yourself in depth which makes every piece truly unique. While I focus on depth and detail – my work at the same time is minimalistic.

Does this demotivate you that a strong lobby of designers has already been here and it is difficult to survive for a comparatively new designer?

I believe every designer has their own uniqueness and their work has its own charm. There’s no end to learning, whenever I see an artist whose work stands out, I connect with them, exchange ideas. To evolve, it’s so important to learn.

I believe firmly that I have in the past, and continue to prove myself by the quality of my work. Fear goes out of the window when you’re only competing with yourself for self-improvement.

What is your personal style statement?

I like to keep it simple, so a white kurta, jeans with a pair of khussas any day.

If you could dress up one famous face from anywhere in the world, who would it be?

Deepika Padukone for sure!

How do you manage to create a merge of contemporary and traditional at the same time while keeping the real essence of old-time charm alive?

Honoring your roots, feeling truly blessed to have a rich culture of native art, poetry, literature – grounds your ways of thinking. This grounding is the cornerstone of my work, and I strive for constant improvement drawing upon contemporary style. So, for me, it isn’t a challenge to capture the old-time charm alive. It is the tradition that fuels my passion for this line of work.

If not a designer, what would have been your career path?

I’d have been an architect, offering advisory services on urban development.

What were you most afraid of while entering into this business?

Keeping a balance between my family and work.

What one hurdle that you faced the most in this business?

I don’t think I have faced many hurdles, it has all been really smooth for me up till now.

What is one opportunity that you are impatiently waiting for?

Waiting for would probably not be the best way to describe it, I’d reframe your question a bit, if I may, and share the opportunities that I’m working towards.
1- I’m currently working towards expanding into North America. Currently researching on the best combination of digital platforms, comprehensive warehousing, and payment gateway development strategies to expand into North America and cater not only to the Pakistani diaspora but also to allies who admire South Asian designs and fabric.
2- Working towards transitioning into an ethical workplace, where raw materials are sourced via fair trade, safe and inclusive workspaces are provided, and staff is compensated and rewarded for the real value that they bring to the table. I firmly believe that the Karigars are the lifeline of any business and I hope to set a standard of fair compensation and inclusive workspace. We all know it’s about time, someone has to take the first step.

What are your further plans regarding your designs?
At this point I’m content with my creative expression, I’ve reached a position where the business is stable with a small but robust clientele. I wish to connect, learn, and be inspired by others who are doing work that’s similar to mine. We really are carving a niche, and it would be great to connect with likeminded people.

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Sidra Iqbal stresses upon the importance of education in Pakistan

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A well known T.V personality, PR practitioner, brand activist, and youth development advocate; we had a pensive conversation with Sidra Iqbal about the importance of education, the current situation, and her pivotal role in this sector.

As both a successful journalist and host, how would you describe the nature of your work in Pakistan?

 

In Pakistan, it is exciting and adventurous as a lot of these things are fairly new. I remember being a fresh undergraduate and the private media only opening up in Pakistan; so fast forward 10 years, I feel a lot of the values are still sort of evolving and there is a lot of work that happens on an ad-hoc basis. We are pressed for resources, we are pressed for sensitivity and ideas but that’s where the challenge and excitement is, and what really gets me going is that you can really make a difference in society with the avalanche of social media and this newfound freedom and power. It really is worthy to be behind the right cause, so I find it very exciting and adventurous.

Hosting a show, we see significant subjects regarding the future of Pakistan being addressed, do you feel that this representation brings light to serious matters adequately?

 

I feel they bring a lot of eyeballs and they bring a lot of attention to the problems. I’m not very keen and not very happy with the focus it brings on the solutions. I feel as a society they have become very pessimistic and we tend to just breathe and groove and sort of just allow ourselves to be mellow, but what we really need to do is be forward-looking, be optimistic and see we really don’t need the same kind of linear timeline mentality that a lot of people did. Even in our region, if we look at a number of South Asian countries, what they have done is they have actually made a complete turn-around change in their environment and society in one generation so I feel the same is possible for Pakistan but we are too focused on thinking, ‘Oh these problems will take a hundred years and perfect resources and a lot of political will to resolve’, I think that’s where the problem is.

Being an Ambassador for “IHope”, how was the response received regarding the discussion, which provided serious insights into the experiences of our youth in society?

 

I think as an ambassador of “IHope”, it was a fantastic opportunity for me to launch the initiative on International Youth Day. I think young people should realize that every crisis that they are presented with presents a hidden gift of compassion and of purpose, so I was very happy to learn that so many young people are motivated to actually give back and help people. In this pandemic they don’t feel that necessarily it’s a bad thing that they are stuck at home, they are devoted to compassion and to service to society; and IHope was a perfect opportunity for them. It was a call out to young people, whether they are in Pakistan or anywhere in the world to come and be a part of the community that would like to help people provide quality healthcare facilities to all.

 

Would community initiatives help create an environment where education and enlightenment can be accepted and therefore implemented for our children?

 

I think children all over the world are dreaming of a new world and it’s our responsibility as a society, as grownups, to provide them with those excellent opportunities. Personally, for me, I think two great pillars I really advocate for are Education and Healthcare. Once you educate a child and once you provide a household with quality health care, with hygiene, and you know the right to live, then there is no stopping there, because then you’re out of the survival mode. I feel that when children are told and they are demonstrated that all that they enjoy is not something that they are entitled to, in fact, what they need to do is be grateful for the benefits that they have. It does evoke a sense of compassion and service in them. So it’s a great initiative and it will go a long way in inculcating these values in children.

When in conversation with Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood, a change in the education itself was emphasized. What manner of change do you feel would have a significant impact on the system itself?

 

I think to begin with technology, ICT is going to be very important, the curriculum all over the world is being upgraded. I’ll give you an example, that they say that the children who are in grade school right now, studies point out that 65% of these children are going to go into jobs and professions that have not been invented so that is a huge responsibility on the education system to actually prepare a child for a future that is unseen, unheard and probably unimaginable as well. When we were in school, there was no internet, there were no social media but somehow our education prepared us for it, now the same challenge lies before us and in much greater intensity. So, I feel what we need to change is first and foremost give a child the right to question. You can no longer just dictate a child, you should give a child in the Pakistani school system the right to question, the right to understand, and the right to sometimes even prove you wrong, so until and unless the teachers have the ability to unlearn and relearn, we can’t really update our education system.

Do intermediate students have an advantage over A-level students when applying for universities, with their average plus predicted grade as well as an additional 3% grace marks given?

 

Well to begin with, as an answer, I think no students in Pakistan had any advantage. Our education system is deeply fragmented, there are too many factions, there are too many things happening and I really congratulate the Government to have a serious intent behind making it a singular hybrid national curriculum. Of course, it comes with its own challenges. I can’t really pick sides because these are students who are all Pakistanis whether you are in A-Level schools, I can’t hold that against you, or whether you are a parent for matriculation or an intermediate exam that should not be your disadvantage. But yes, what I am calling for is that the Education Ministry has to make a decision, make policy measures and take strategic moves that benefit and ensure a level playing field for all. This grace mark issue is putting the A-level students at a disadvantage and I would appeal and strongly urge and petition to the Ministry of Education to look into its decision and how it’s having an impact on all.

Would a change in the implementation and execution of educational policies pave the way for a promising change in Pakistan regarding the future of our children who are still out of schools?

 

Of course, I mean if you look at numbers, it’s astonishing. 20 million children of school-going age in Pakistan are not going to school. Even if you look at provinces like KP, one out of every 4 girls of school-going age is not going to school and that is a glaring  25% of girls out of school.  How do you expect her to bring a knowledgeable, aware, opinionated, informed, and civilized generation if she herself does not have the ability to read and write, If she does not have literacy, does not have education, does not have open-mindedness? So, I feel if you really want to turn the future of Pakistan around, education has to be the cornerstone for it.

How can we do our bit in helping bring about a positive change for our young children in terms of opening the doors of opportunity?

 

I think it is about getting them to be trained in design thinking; presenting the problems as a creativity challenge and not as a dead end. A lot of times the kind of discourse that we are exposing our children to in social media on mainstream television is robbing them of their hope. We are telling them that nothing in Pakistan can be fixed and we are going down the dungeons, which is the furthest from reality. Even if you look around the region just during the COVID 19, India in the last 3 months has lost about 25% of their GDP, I mean that is a grave loss, job losses. Something is happening right in Pakistan whether you want to give the present Government the credit for it or not is entirely your call, but something is right and there is a lot to be hopeful about if we really want to give our children and the young people something it is that hope, that believes that you matter and better things are possible!

 

  1. And lastly, do you feel we are doing enough as a country, for our future in education?

 

Well, it’s 70 years of not doing enough, you can’t take a snapshot and say are we doing enough or not, there’s been a lot of water under the bridge, there’s a lot of things we haven’t done right for the years to come. Yes, we can take a corrective course but in order for that corrective course to fully bear fruit I think it will need about 7-10 years and I’m hopeful that if we make use of this window of opportunity, that would be a big turnaround for Pakistan

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