Are you ready for a story that’s going to amaze you?  Today I’m hosting Naeem Datoo – someone I’ve known since I was probably 10 years old and who now happens to be family through marriage!  Naeem’s story has a similar theme to Rozeela’s from last week – are we getting the picture now that everything that happens in our lives brings a blessing?  Through his journey back to health and now his way of life, Naeem offers hope and inspiration.

Please welcome Naeem!

I still remember the date, January 17, 2005 – I arrive at a Hatha Yoga class at the Ikeela Yoga in Steveston.  This cozy studio, a renovated shed in the backyard of a Café that I often escaped into for some quiet reflection, is instantly connecting with me.  I am nervous, as there are just two students and the teacher.  But quickly we enter into a present moment space where no thoughts seem to exist.  I feel a deep connection to the space, the teacher, and the flow of the Yoga class.  I know then, I am coming back.

It was a very challenging time in my life.  I was healing from a near fatal car accident that not only broke the right side of my body, but also knocked me off the life path I was heading in.  I awoke in a hospital bed with family and friends, who were waiting for more than a day to see if I would live or die, facing me.  I opened my eyes and inquired about what occurred: my sister answered “car accident.”  I felt no fear, only acceptance, and thought  ‘that makes sense.’ I wondered how the driver, my friend, was and someone responded, “He is okay, just hurt his wrist.”  I felt relieved and fell into a sleep.  Only later did I realize that during those first moments of consciousness, I had a tube in my throat breathing for me, and was unable to speak.

I went through an excruciating foot surgery and had moments where I knew what I wanted to speak, but all that came out of my mouth were sounds that made no sense.  My family was concerned and the doctors concluded I was experiencing a seizure. It was a physically dismantling experience, and any hope I had of rescheduling an interview for the job I had been lining up for months was slowly fading away.  There were nights where I was awake with sweats, returning to the Emergency Room for treatment, moments when I would lose all sense of emotional control and simply yell at whomever was taking care of me.  I was not even able to go to the washroom by myself. For a twenty-four year old male, those first months after the accident, were, to put it bluntly, hell.  Then something changed – and it was not something I had planned nor even imagined.

After three months of twenty-four hour care, I was able to move around without any casts and was invited by my sister to attempt a yoga class.  I was acutely aware that as a result of the physical injuries I sustained, I, in no way, could engage in activities that involved contact.  I also knew how important a physical practice was for me, so I sheepishly agreed to sign up for my first set of Yoga classes.  Those first few classes were enjoyable and I began to enjoy the slow movement and gentleness of this new experience.  I felt a connection with the teacher, but as the classes passed by, I clearly became bored. I did not attend the last class of the series, and while feeling somewhat guilty with not following through with my commitment, I happened to meet a lady who ran a nearby Café, and who would evolve into to a teacher, mentor, and friend.

Amaada Joy introduced herself to me and began to share that she was opening up a Yoga studio behind her Café. I shared my previous experience of and reluctance to continue with the Yoga, and Amaada encouraged me to go to a class at her studio.  It wasn’t a logical choice, but something felt right about this strange woman, so I agreed to attend a class in the New Year.  She then began talking about the nature and history of the Universe.  I followed her for a while, and then something she said kicked in and my logical mind couldn’t quite take it in.  I recall tuning out while Amaada spoke with my friend who was accompanying me that day.  After a few minutes of re-wiring in my brain, I was able to re-connect, but by then, we were already saying our goodbyes.   After going for a walk, I realized I just had to go back and talk to this woman as she would be able to shed light on some of the experiences I had while in the hospital, including the one where I was communicating with people in the room without being able to speak.  But she was gone and the Café had closed its doors for the Winter Holiday season.

As January came around, I began to visit this studio day after day.  The state of my body was telling me that I needed to make changes in my life and the Hatha Yoga practice provided a space to gently heal from the discomfort of the injuries I suffered.   I slowly began to feel good in my body and I soon began learning about Reiki, a form of energy healing, and how any ailment could be transformed with the use of prana, or life force energy. I kept soaking up as much wisdom as I could, and even though this was all new to me, it felt very ancient and strangely familiar.

I was under the care of doctors, who with the their best intentions, told me I could not run again, nor attend University level courses due to a brain injury that occurred during the accident.  Even worse, I was told that I would be on seizure medication for the remainder of my life.  As I continued to stretch beyond my perceived limits in the Yoga practice, and as I began to open to the ancient wisdom being shared in the studio, I slowly began to extend beyond the limits of what the medical community thought was possible: I returned to University and completed a second degree, I began to not only run with ease, but also dance with joy, and I was no longer taking any medication (and have not since till this day).  The Yoga and Reiki were changing my reality from the inside out.

The Yoga, meditation, and Reiki practices evolved into a lifestyle of peace.  I wanted to share the peace I was experiencing with others and signed up for a 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training.   After a thirty-day retreat, I came back to the small little studio in Steveston and taught my first class.  It was simply amazing to share the peace I felt within.

Yoga has become an integral part of my life.  It helps me to create balance in all areas of my life.  I turn to Yoga when I am stressed, when I need to shift gears and activate a different part of my brain, when I want to access deep, transcendental states, or when I wish to send prayers of healing out to others.  It has been a blessing I didn’t even know existed!

If you are thinking of starting your own practice, here are a few suggestions to help you get started (or re-inspired):

1)      Find a style / teacher that lights you up

When you leave a class you are meant to feel amazing.  If not, then you are not in the right class for you.  There are so many different styles of Yoga and so many teachers out there now – explore and find a class that lights you up.

2)      Trust your own Truth – You are the Guru

Only engage in practices that feel true to you.  Just because everyone else has got their feet around their neck J doesn’t mean you have to.  Find an alternative that suits you and honors your body.

3)      Commit to something small and stick to it

It is much easier to commit to one class a week or ten minutes of stretching a day, than setting expectations that are too high. Practicing success will help you build confidence and integrate the practice into your life in a sustainable way.

4)      Stay open to the philosophy

Yoga has been practiced by people for a very, very, very long time.  It is science with an abundance of wisdom that is not immediately apparent.  Teachers who share this wisdom in classes are of great value.  Soak in their wisdom as best you can, but remember tip 2 – you are the Guru.  Stay open to what is shared, feel into  what is true for you, and toss the rest out.

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Naeem Kassamali Datoo is a Hatha Yoga teacher and Reiki Master.  Naeem is currently  on sabbatical, traveling the world, and writing.   He can be reached at





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