Imagine not having access to a yoga studio. For many years that was the reality for women in Afghanistan, until Fakhria Momtaz opened Momtaz Yoga Centre in Kabul.
The only yoga studio in Afghanistan, it is a welcome oasis where women can come and practice yoga, relax, and be part of a community away from the strains of daily life.
“Everyone in this country wants to find peace after suffering in years of war and conflict,” its founder, Fakhria Momtaz, told Al Jazeera. “But you cannot establish peace in this society if you are not at peace within yourself.”
Momtaz was sporty from a young age, and started practicing yoga as a child. When the Taliban took control in Afghanistan she and her family fled to Pakistan, but they returned. Now, she wants to help women by spreading the benefits of yoga.
“Yoga is something that helps with self-awareness, helps with depression,” she said. “This is why I think it should be accessible to women.”
A single studio can only reach a limited number of women, so Momtaz is dedicated to increasing yoga awareness by developing an app that women can use for home practice.
Her dedication is a reminder that yoga is truly a practice of unity. And that yoga can help us face problems and difficulties, no matter who we are, or where we are.