Contributed by Christine Thompson
It takes courage to step away from a successful engineering career to pursue a different path. But Iyengar Yoga Center of North County student Shabbir has done just that. He credits Iyengar Yoga with opening the eyes of his heart to more deeply explore a long-held desire to give back to others as he has received.
An electrical and computer engineer by training, Shabbir was experiencing some health issues in 2009 when a doctor referred him to Iyengar Yoga therapeutic classes. His journey toward health began in earnest with weekly therapeutics class attendance. Fairly soon, he began participating in Level 1 classes. He found synergy with the geometry of engineering and the precision of Iyengar Yoga.
“I love the feedback my body receives when I use props. All the angles are like building blocks … 90°, 60°, 30°. It’s like a building block, or a diagram or an experiment.”
Now, Shabbir is “medicine-free” and his health is much improved. He attends class regularly and follows a faithful evening practice of Viparita Karani with bent legs on a chair and sacrum and hips supported by a bolster.
“Iyengar Yoga has given me the tools to deal with any issue that comes up, whether it’s a feeling of being overwhelmed, or changing directions in life,” he says.
He’s discovered that he is called to teach. With a belief that “charity begins at home,” Shabbir volunteers at the San Diego Youth Services night shelter for homeless teens. During the activity hour at the shelter, Shabbir has been teaching yoga to the teens. Recently, he also began teaching a free restorative class to several friends.
“I feel like I am living and breathing Iyengar Yoga and I want to share the knowledge,” he says.
A native of Pakistan and with citizenship also in Canada and the United States, Shabbir is a man of world. His call to teach prompted him to become certified to teach English as a second language. And last year he joined with other volunteers to teach English to people in tsunami-struck villages of Thailand. English is a much needed skill in the Thai tourism industry, particularly as the country continues to recover from the devastation of the massive 2004 tsunami.
In the near future, Shabbir will be exploring another opportunity for volunteer teaching in Southeast Asia.
“God has been very good to me. I have been blessed. I wanted to explore other aspects of my life and to become more well-rounded. I know I’ve received a lot more than I have given. I wanted to step away from the corporate treadmill for a while. Even my contemporaries said to me that I could be creating a blueprint for them.
“That’s what I want, to use Yoga as a path to help me explore a new aspect of life. I’m not saying I’m through with my vocation. But right now I want to explore.
“Yoga gives you the hope and courage to explore a different path.”