Ramadan Reflections

Ramadan Reflections

My Journey of Faith and Flow: Uniting Yoga with Ramadan as a Muslim Woman - By Essraa Nawar

Reading time: 4 minutes

Three years ago, amidst the hustle and bustle of my daily life, I stumbled upon a practice that would change the course of my spiritual journey forever. It was the discovery of yoga – an ancient tradition that would soon become intertwined with my faith as a Muslim woman, particularly during the sacred month of Ramadan.

As I unrolled my mat for the first time at Shaanti Yoga, the setting sun casting a golden glow across the studio, I felt a sense of peace enveloping me within the serene atmosphere and the presence of fellow practitioners. Anticipation mingled with curiosity and a touch of intimidation as I embarked on this new experience.

Little did I know that this seemingly simple act would mark the beginning of a profound exploration – not just of my physical capabilities, but also of the intricate connections between mind, body, and spirit. It was a moment that would change my life forever, and for that, I am immensely grateful.

In the evenings and during Ramadan, just before I break my fast, I find myself on my mat, surrounded by the quiet of the fading day and the whispers of my own prayers during practice. With each movement, each breath, I draw closer to Allah (God), surrendering to His will and His wisdom. It is here, in the stillness of the pre-dusk hours, that I find solace and strength, navigating the challenges of fasting and the joys of spiritual awakening.

Yoga, with its graceful poses and mindful breathing, has become a sanctuary for me during Ramadan – a time when the discipline of the fast is heightened, and the spiritual rewards are abundant. Through the month of Ramadan, a 30-day period of heightened spiritual devotion and self-discipline, I am reminded of the importance of discipline, focus, and self-awareness.

Ramadan, with its daily fasts and increased acts of worship, serves as a profound reminder of the strength of the human spirit and the power of self-restraint. These qualities are not only essential in navigating the fast and prayers but also resonate deeply with the principles of yoga.

As I delve into my yoga practice, I find these attributes intertwining seamlessly, guiding me towards a deeper understanding of both my faith and my physical journey.

In the disciplined rhythm of my practice, I find echoes of the discipline required during Ramadan – the abstention from food, drink, and other physical needs from dawn till dusk. Just as I train my body to resist the temptations of hunger and thirst, so too do I train my mind to remain steadfast in my devotion to Allah.

But beyond the physical aspects of yoga, there lies a deeper, more profound connection to spirituality – one that transcends the boundaries of religion and culture. In the graceful flow of my practice, I find moments of stillness and serenity, allowing me to connect with the divine presence within myself and in the world around me.

In the teachings of Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam, I recently discovered fascinating parallels to the principles of yoga*, particularly concerning the energy centers known as the lata'if, (aka) the seven chakras in the Yoga practise.

These lata'if represent different aspects of the human soul's journey towards God, aligning closely with the philosophy of inner transformation found in yoga. Just as the chakras are associated with specific energy points in the body, the lata'if are believed to reside within, waiting to be awakened and harmonized.

For instance, the heart corresponds to the Anahata chakra, symbolizing love and compassion, while the spirit aligns with the Sahasrara chakra, representing spiritual enlightenment.

Embracing this perspective, I endeavor, much like the Sufi masters, to awaken and balance these latent energies within myself – the heart, the spirit, the secret, the hidden, and the most hidden – as I embark on my spiritual journey during Ramadan.

Through practices of meditation, prayer, and introspection, I strive to unlock the full potential of these energy centers, fostering a deeper connection with the divine and nurturing the growth of love, compassion, and humility within my soul.

Through the practice of yoga, I have come to understand that true strength lies not in the physical form but in the resilience of the spirit, the depth of the heart, and the clarity of the mind.

As I move through each pose, each breath, I am reminded of the boundless grace and mercy of Allah, guiding me on my path of self-discovery and spiritual growth.

Just in my everyday life, where faith and yoga intertwine like threads of vibrant colors, each pose, each breath, weaves a story of resilience, enlightenment, and divine connection. Yoga and Ramadan are weaving together the fabric of my faith and my identity as a Muslim woman.

Through the discipline of both practices, I have discovered a profound sense of peace, purpose, and belonging – a testament to the transformative power of both faith and flow in my life.

Embracing yoga as a Muslim woman has been a journey of breaking stereotypes and changing narratives. In a world where misconceptions often overshadow understanding, I've found empowerment in challenging the notion that yoga is incompatible with Islam. Instead, I've embraced the opportunity to reclaim this ancient practice as a tool for spiritual growth, self-discovery, and inner peace.

By sharing my journey openly and authentically, I hope to inspire others to explore the intersection of faith and yoga, and to recognize that true liberation comes from embracing the fullness of who we are, both spiritually and physically. In a world brimming with diversity and offering a plethora of perspectives, it's crucial to discern what aligns with our beliefs, inner truths and relinquish what doesn't.

As Alvin Toffler aptly stated, "The illiterate of the twenty-first century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn."

Let us embody this ethos of perpetual learning and adaptation, drawing wisdom from the myriad viewpoints that surround us, and weaving together the fabric of our unique experiences to foster understanding and acceptance.

*commission earned from this link.

Essraa Nawar

Yogi, Muslim, Egyptian-American , Academic librarian, Writer, TV host, TEDx speaker, mother of three, married to my best friend, and avid world traveler.