I am a great believer in a structure as far as my daily routine is concerned; it keeps people balanced and healthy – physically and mentally. That is why, despite the lockdown, I have tried my best to keep my daily schedule the same as it has always been.
I wake up early, between 5:30 and 6:30 a.m. and have a cup of tea and water. (I am a firm believer in intermittent fasting which lasts for 16 hours, so I don’t have breakfast.)
Afterwards I exercise and meditate for an hour and then spend some time journaling – I pen down all my thoughts – be they personal or professional. I have written 17 to 18 journals on the ups and downs of life (the good, bad and ugly), personal relationships and my work. As these journals are personal, I have not published them, although I may some day. After that, I listen to a podcast for anywhere between 10 and 45 minutes – the subject can be anything as long as it is positive, be it about life, religion, health or wellness. I do all this in my garden because I love nature.
Pre lockdown, I would go to work. I live in KDA, which is where I hold my yoga classes and I usually spend a substantial amount of time there in the evening. In the first half of the day, I would go to my gym and wellness studio in DHA. However, we closed the gym and ended our yoga classes before the lockdown began to avoid compromising the health of my employees and gym members, despite the fact that we had already started implementing disinfecting SOPs. I did not want to risk tainting a brand I have spent 11 years building.
Before the lockdown, on an average day I would interact with 60 to 75 people and this is what I miss the most. When the lockdown started, I was very stressed; I am a ‘people person’ and love being around others. I told myself to relax and not worry about things I could not control and gradually, after several internal dialogues, I acclimatised myself to what we all call the ‘new normal’. I did a lot more journaling and meditating to help relieve the stress and come to terms with the situation.
At AQ Power Yoga, we normally hold over 100 classes a month, and cater to at least 150 clients. Thanks to Zoom we are still able to offer 10 to 12 classes online. The idea of holding classes through Zoom came when quite a few of my clients called to say they were feeling very anxious about the situation and uncertain about the future. Given that exercise helps keep anxiety at bay, we resumed classes online. Before the lockdown, I used to conduct one class a day and the rest were handled by my 20 instructors. Now, with Zoom the number of classes has been reduced and we average about 10 a week. Two instructors are required for each session; one conducts and the other observes and coaches students; we are big on form during exercising and are very careful that people do not sustain injuries, especially during high intensity classes. I also hold a weekly class on Instagram once or twice a week (they are free of cost), as I believe it is very important for people to exercise during the lockdown to maintain their physical and mental wellbeing. Following a regular routine is so important to avoid anxiety, even among people who are not prone to it.
My journey in wellness started after I had a car accident in the US. This was 13 years ago, and when I came back to Pakistan, I started doing yoga. I lost a lot of weight, and more importantly, began to feel strong and healthy. I became a professional trainer and established AQ Power Yoga. In addition to yoga classes, we train people to be the healthiest versions of themselves.
I live with my father who is not in the best of health and ensuring he is well cared for is of vital importance, as my mother has passed away. So overseeing the household takes up time in the day, and I spend the evenings taking my yoga classes online. Once they are over, I go to my garden and listen to music, talk to my friends on FaceTime or simply listen to the sounds of nature and watch the stars. Afterwards I have a light dinner of chicken and vegetables (I try to avoid carbs at night!) and indulge in a little bit of chocolate every night. I tell my students to do the same – indulge sparingly; too much sugar or unhealthy foods can cause mood swings and lethargy (all the more important these days when people are baking more and consuming more junk food).
Sometimes, late at night I go for a short drive around my neighbourhood. I used to do this every day and I really miss it. I used to take my chai with me and listen to music while observing whatever was going on around. I sleep very little – I barely get my mandated eight hours – but this works for me.
As told to Mamun M. Adil.
Aqil Amin is Founder & CEO, AQ Power Yoga. Instagram: aq_fitness