Shazia Omar hosted Bangladesh’s first-ever yoga and wellness festival, Dhaka Flow, on Friday, January 13, 2023, from 11 am to 5 pm, at Gulshan Society Lake Park, Dhaka. The event saw 60 private sector companies, 20 fitness teachers and healers, and over 1000 people gather around the theme of healthy living.
In the opening session, Shazia said she organized Dhaka Flow to give space to everyone making efforts to contribute to a healthy community. She said healthy living is not about exercise alone; it’s about mind, body, spirit, home, community, and country. She said one could not be healthy in isolation. Good health requires good physical health, good mental, psychological, and emotional health, clean air, green earth, and pure water. She described a vision of Dhaka City as a free, healthy, clean, inclusive and green place.
“Dhaka City can be a toxic space with the chaotic traffic, population density, air pollution and overall lack of healthy living. Given this, it is important for us to cultivate a higher conscience and embrace a more intentional way of life that is harmonious and nurturing for our people and our planet,” said Shazia.
In partnership with Gulshan Society, Dhaka Flow made use of public space to provide a free event for the community that would encourage everyone to live healthier. For the event, Shazia had a few pillars. Managed by Interspeed, the event was entirely plastic-waste-free and eco-friendly. All companies participating did not use PVC banners. Stalls were made of bamboo and jute with cloth canvas signs, keeping an eye on the aesthetics to ensure an eco-artistic feel.
No plastic bottles were sold; everyone enjoyed Pureit by Unilever’s water dispensers. The event had 14 food vendors, all taking on the challenge, or opportunity, of designing purely vegetarian treats, as ahimsa, non-violence towards living beings, was one of the pillars of the event. The final pillar was collaboration rather than competition, as all vendors and instructors were asked to cross-promote one another. Pushing the boundary bit by bit can lead to cataclysmic change. She hopes all events going forward will see how easy it is to shift modus operandi and adopt cleaner habits.
Mustafa Turan, Turkish Ambassador, and Natalie Chuard, the Swiss Ambassador, also spoke at the opening to express their strong belief in yoga as a positive way of life. The theme of devoting time to taking care of oneself is to show up better, so we are in a better place to raise a healthy family and community and a healthy nation came up.
Shazia said she was thrilled to see how many people are actively engaged in the wellness sector in their own way. She said Dhaka Flow showcased several start-ups, including East Bengal Coffee Grinder, Mama’s Tarts, Aliens, fithobo.com, Moar co-working space, Smart Air and Just SXY sportswear. WhiteBoard participated in recording citizens’ voices around the theme of building a better Bangladesh. Basecamp offered park visitors a chance to climb a 50-foot tree. Clay Station, Aranya and Art for the Soul gave people space to be creative. Aqua Paints, the Growing Up Club and Kolpotoru kept the kids’ zone active. F45, Amra Active, Yasmin Karachiwala Body Image and individuals like Ed Jujitsu, Naziafitstudio and Britto offered cardio sessions, while Faria Athar, And_zen, Tasmiah and Dyuti offered yoga sessions. Anita Aparna Muyeed offered meditation and energy healing, while Namira Hossain offered intuitive tarot card reading.
A yoga session at Dhaka Flow
Core sponsors Turaag Active, a local designer sportswear brand, provided yoga pants to the yogis, Aarong Earth, with organic skin and hair care products, and Prime Bank, with green financing, made the event possible. ACI Nutrilife showcased their healthy grain products, Sprint from Apex showcased shoes made from recycled plastic bottles, CalciPlus showcased calcium-fortified milk for bone health, Sajeeb Group showcased Isobuler Bhushi as a traditional and effective way of keeping one’s gut healthy, Blenders Choice Ispahani tea showcased green tea, and Sajida Foundation showcased Kaan Pete Roi and Shojon, suicide hotline and mental health service providers. Other stalls at the event included Shombob.com, online pharmacy, Movement Solutions, physiotherapists, Dhaka Ayurveda Centre, offering therapeutic massages, and many more.
Shazia Omar has been teaching yoga in Dhaka for over 15 years. She encourages everyone to subscribe to her channel, Youtube.com/ShazzyOm. She is a writer, a yogini, an activist and a mom. She runs yoga retreats around the country and classes in Gulshan. To join the wellness movement and ‘surrender to the flow’, she invites everyone to check out Dhaka Flow’s website and join the Dhaka Flow community on Facebook and Instagram.
One of the event’s key messages was that yoga could help people cope with stress and reduce physical and mental ailments. Meditation and mindfulness can improve concentration, compassion, peace and community spirit. Understanding healthy habits and better nutrition can contribute drastically to our fitness and journey towards inner peace.
The event was closed with some beautiful songs by Armeen Musa, the Grammy award nominee. We look forward to more such events in the future.