yoga, salat and unity

A few months ago, I started practicing yoga regularly and it has been transformative in many ways. Through yoga, I am learning to see myself as a soul, not a body. When I practice, I don’t practice with my arms and legs but I practice from the part of myself that is unchanging, that is the the essence of who I am. My true nature is one of happiness, bliss and peace and that is where I try to practice from.

When we are in class, we are sometimes told to move as one. This is one of my favorite aspects of yoga. When we chant together, when we breathe together and when we take our postures together, I feel unified and part of something greater than myself.

Now that Ramadan is here, I have less opportunities to go to yoga but more opportunities to pray in jamat or congregational prayer. Like with yoga, I greatly value the connection and unification I feel when praying with others. In Islam, praying in congregation is highly revered. A prayer in congregation “is superior to prayer alone by twenty-seven degrees.”(Bukhari) I notice that when I pray with someone, if I have had some tension with or anger at them, it quickly melts away.

I am starting to see the great parallels between my yoga practice and salat. The movements, the intentions, the place that we pray and practice from and so many other things are so closely aligned. I feel so lucky to have two such unique and beautiful ways to feel connected to my fellow human beings and God.

Check out these beautiful pictures of people praying in congregation. The full set of pictures at is breathtaking.

mercy like the rain

I’m grateful for all the rain we’ve been getting in DC lately. Its been such a relief to not have hundred degree days on end, especially since Ramadan is here.

Last Friday, as we were headed to Jummah, we got caught in a downpour. We found shelter in Rose Park. Amidst all the sadness in the papers these days, its comforting to know there are still places of innocence.

After standing under a large tree, Feraz went to investigate if there were better shelter opportunities for us.
Come in here, Janee!
More shelter! Way too happy about it.

bowling the night away

have you heard to the strike (and spare) sisters?

Feraz and I try to do a lot of cultural things becuase we want to take advantage of the time we have living in DC. We end up at a lot of plays at the Kennedy Center, shows at 9:30 or Black Cat and in museums all over town. All these things are fun and I’m glad that we do them, but every now and then, I am reminded how I acutally have the most fun at simple things like a $10 game of bowling. Here are some pictures for you to enjoy.

good friends bring you socks in case you forget. great friends bring you owl socks.
great friend.
sisters bowling.
bulgarian bowling.
rockstar bowling.
serious bowler.
serious bowler #2.
we were the second string team.
british bowling.
action shot.
sisters bowling. 
sisters in waiting.

style points.
After being the only one who didn’t bowl a strike all night, I said, “I’m going to do a side plank and then bowl a strike.” It worked.
Final scores. We are not currently accepting invitations to join bowling leagues. Apologies.
The stuff of legends.

for whom the bell tolls

Today I was reflecting on a part of John Donnes Meditation XVII. He wrote:

“No man is an island, entire of itself. Each is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…Each man’s death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind. Therefore, never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”

There is an idea found in many religions and philosophies that everything we need for our own happiness and peace is already within us. We do not need others and the peace that we seek, we can find it if we look inside ourselves.

Donnes’ Meditation makes the point that no man is an island but rather all men are connected to each other. We are so intertwined that what happens to any one person, in some way happens to us all. We are all impacted by the fortune and misfortune of each other.

I think I find myself more aligned with Donnes’ view. We live complicated lives and it is difficult to navigate through them without the help of those around us. With a good support network we can get through the pitfalls of life, we can work through past pains and we have people to celebrate the victories with. 

I am convinced that we are all made of something fundamentally good and that we can find a great deal of happiness and peace within ourselves. But I think that much of the joy we experience comes from our relationships. Not just from what they give us but from what we are able to give to them. When we share this basic love that all of us have the capacity to give, then we enrich and better and are enriched and bettered. 

Donnes’ Meditation inspired the title of Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls. Here are some of my favorite quotes from that book.

“I loved you when I saw you today and I loved you always but I never saw you before.” 

“How little we know of what there is to know. I wish that I were going to live a long time instead of going to die today because I have learned much about life in these four days; more, I think than in all other time. I’d like to be an old man to really know. I wonder if you keep on learning or if there is only a certain amount each man can understand. I thought I knew so many things that I know nothing of. I wish there was more time.” 

“For what are we born if not to aid one another?” 

“There is nothing else than now. There is neither yesterday, certainly, nor is there any tomorrow. How old must you be before you know that? There is only now, and if now is only two days, then two days is your life and everything in it will be in proportion. This is how you live a life in two days. And if you stop complaining and asking for what you never will get, you will have a good life. A good life is not measured by any biblical span.” 

“I had an inheritance from my father,
It was the moon and the sun.
And though I roam all over the world,
The spending of it’s never done.” 

“Dying was nothing and he had no picture of it nor fear of it in his mind. But living was a field of grain blowing in the wind on the side of a hill. Living was a hawk in the sky. Living was an earthen jar of water in the dust of the threshing with the grain flailed out and the chaff blowing. Living was a horse between your legs and a carbine under one leg and a hill and a valley and a stream with trees along it and the far side of the valley and the hills beyond.” 

“But did thee feel the earth move?”