Yoga is a journey and mine has been an adventure of self-discovery and the process of finding my truth.
My yoga journey started in 2011 when I was living in Dubai and working as a senior Project Manager. Although financially-fulfilling, my job caused me constant anxiety attacks, waking up in the middle of the night with rapid heartbeats and nights of insomnia. My workout at the time was a mix of crossfit and fitness classes until one time I decided to attend a yoga class and I loved it! It was very different from my fast-paced practice. I was in awe of how sun salutations are just a different version of my Muslim prayers that turns your attention inwards and connects you with higher powers.
2011 was an interesting phase in my life. The Egyptian revolution was in full force and high on feelings and excitement of change.
Inspired by the revolution and aligned with yoga; I started rethinking my career decisions and began a soul-searching journey. I knew corporate work was not for me and struggled with this type of modern slavery. While I was good at my job, I was not making the world a better place and didn’t have the opportunity to get creative or challenged. The spark I saw in artists, freelancers, creative people, and business owners always touched my heart. All I knew is I craved and wanted that! I wanted to be doing something I am passionate about. I wanted to make a difference in this world. I knew in my heart that working in corporate and leading this consumerism life was not for me, but what do I do? I had no idea. :)
There was a tiny inner voice telling me why not become a yoga teacher but the imposter syndrome in me shut it down immediately saying “I am a fraud, I am not a yogi; I practice here and there. No way!”.
So 2013 arrives and it was the year! Yoga and other factors helped me make up my mind. I quit my corporate life, relocated to Toronto to start something new. One of my best decisions ever.
I experimented a bit between cooking, photography, and finally makeup. I was very interested in tapping into my creative artistic side. I was taking a huge risk, as I don’t even remember when was the last time I drew anything let it alone do fashion makeup lol. I am an engineer who is business oriented, works well under pressure, solve problems, blah blah, but definitely not an artist. Yet I persisted.
I completed the makeup program at CMU, graduated and started working in Film & TV for 4 years, hustling left & right to make it happen as a freelance makeup artist. It was hard breaking in, building the confidence, learning as I go about the industry, the hustle to get paid and find gigs. What was interesting though is learning about my skills, capabilities, limitations, and myself.
All my life I was convinced I am not an artist, I can’t draw nor hold a brush. Isn’t it funny what taking risks teaches you about your own self! It taught me that it’s O.K. to start something new, to explore life options just like we explore asanas, All in all, it was a great endeavour but something was still missing. A void needed to be filled.
All this time I continued to practice yoga on and off. That same inner voice was still there and getting louder. Finally at the end of 2017, I caved in and registered for the 200 hrs yoga teacher training at Yogaspaceto with the intention of “let’s see what’s going to happen.”
I loved every single moment of the program, the energy, the asanas, the practice of meditation and breathwork, the similarities between the yoga philosophy and Islam. The feedback I received from my teachers, my colleagues, and my friends who attended my community classes was amazing and a wonderful surprise. I felt I was in my element when I was teaching a class but knew I needed a more in depth understanding of the human body, anatomy, biomechanics of poses… etc., which lead me to enrol for the contemporary mat Pilates 200hrs teacher training at Muse Movement. My own practice evolved throughout the past 2 years, my body feels different, my breath has changed and improved. In my humble opinion, Yoga is meditation through movement, building connections within your body, and Pilates is the fine-tuning of these connections, the deep dive into your inner core muscles. And in that movement, I found my truth and self.
Yoga helped me find my purpose and passion. I love teaching, I love connecting with people, and deep down, I might love telling people what to do – hahaha. I love sharing my knowledge, raising awareness, helping my students feel good and investing in the one & only asset that matters: our entire self which encapsulates heart, mind, and soul, not just bones & muscles.
Sometimes I think I didn’t find yoga, but yoga found me . . . . My journey of discovery was a journey of the heart, of listening to that inner voice and believing in what makes my heart sings, letting go of what no longer serves me and trusting that the universe has my back.
Perhaps all we need to do is listen, really listen to that gut feeling and trust it because it will never lead you astray. Perhaps Rumi was right when he said "wAnd perhaps, just perhaps, today is a good day to start . . .
Malak is a Yoga and Pilates instructor. She is the founder and of @malwearto and is often seen sporting her "Ahaa" statement tops as an objection to all isms. When she is not teaching yoga or pilates, you can find her cuddling with her fur baby "Reece" or experimenting with new recipes.