If India has Baba Ramdev, then Pakistan got Yoga Guru Shamshad Haider or popularly known as Yogi Haider.
Based out of Pakistan’s Punjab Province, Yogi Haider has been working tirelessly for more than two decades to spread yoga in the country.
He started his journey in 1994 into exploring the science of Yoga. He travelled through India, Tibet, Nepal and Burma to study the art of yoga. He met his wife during that time and helped her overcome Asthma.
He founded an organisation ‘Way of Nature’ through which he provides free (public) and paid (private) training in yoga.
His organization teaches yoga to over 10,000 students in Islamabad, Karachi, Rawalpindi and Lahore and his students include Pakistani politicians such as Qaim Ali Shah and Ghulam Mustafa Khar.
Instead of linking Yoga with any religion, Yogi Haider focuses on health benefits of it. He even claims that the Yoga was originated in Pakistan’s Multan area.
He further uses “Allah Hoo” instead of “Om” in certain asanas as he believes that it connects the practitioner to God just like a Sufi.
He chants ‘Alla Hoo’ instead of Om
However, his workshop was attacked in Lahore by radicals who believed that yoga belongs to Hindu culture and blamed him for promoting it.
In 2014, a yoga centre run by one of his friends was burned to the ground.
Yoga Guru Shamshad Haider with his students
Despite all the threats, he continues to teach Yoga for a healthy living.