6 am, Islamabad airport. We are a group of six, multi-generational Karachi women. Each one of us has left behind family; the press of work; the city’s particular madness, its noise, traffic, politics, its dark restless energies. Organised by Aisha Chapra and Siraj ul Mulk, the yoga holiday is more than any one of us perhaps imagined.
Mastuj Fort is a gorgeous property. Orchards weighed in by apples ready for picking. A lush, rambling garden. And an arbor of local trees, leaves shining in the sunlit breeze. Six log cabins line the land’s periphery. And, revered of all things, an ancient maple towers heavenwards, literally as far as our eyes may see.
Aisha’s yoga practice is beautifully detailed - rich in instruction and quiet in temperament. We move in the way of dance, with core awareness, breath-led, taking in earth wisdom beneath our feet. Laughing at the early morning cold, adapting, intuitive, moving towards the sun. The mornings remain active. Afternoon sessions are gentle, healing. Aisha guides at the group’s own pace, each day. I savour a seamless relationship, yoga on as well as off the mat, in her presence.
And what regal dining! Fresh fruit, vegetables, special Chitrali soup and breads, all produce drawn from the land itself. Special nights for trout, barbecued meats. Meals are served outdoors, at a slender table finessed with fresh-picked flowers, in the shade of a canopy. We have open views of the Hindu Kush Mountains and the deep green garden light.
And then the daily walks: mornings, through the village; a spectacular 3 hour walk in Shandur; our evening sunsets over Trichmir, relished just outside the Fort down a path lined with poplar trees. As night comes in, we sit by a brightly lit bonfire, full of the day’s harvest. Bedtime, graced with the vast mountain quiet and a hot water bottle already snuggling in the blankets, in wait of us.
Outstanding service at both Mastuj, and at Hindukush Heights, in Chitral. From transport, to guides, to inhouse support, we are gifted with Siraj ul Mulk’s staff and hospitality. Every day is new, an adventure, a submission, and a return to the simplest things in our selves, in our surrounds.
City slickers - travel north.