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When yoga instructor Kelly Seng mentioned the idea of charity yoga classes to benefit the flood victims in Pakistan to one of her students, she never imagined her idea would go so far.

The student Seng had spoken to was Mariam Durrani, a second-year Graduate School of Education student — and now — the organizer of Yoga for Flood Relief.

Sponsored by the Office of the Chaplain and the Office of Health Promotion and Education, Yoga for Flood Relief kicked off its inaugural class on Saturday in the auditorium of the ARCH building. For a minimum suggested donation of $5, students, faculty, staff and community members can participate while supporting the International Rescue Committee’s relief work in Pakistan.

Durrani got her idea off the ground with the help of Adnan Zulfiqar, a Law and Public Policy Fellow at the Annenberg School for Communication, and Susan Villari, the director of the Office of Health Education.

She explained that after talking to Seng, she decided to run with the idea because when you do yoga, “you’re not only giving financially — you’re giving energetically.”

Seng said she had suggested the idea because “yoga fits with the philosophy of taking care of people and taking care of yourself.”

Durrani also said the idea of yoga appealed to her because she sees yoga as a metaphor for humanitarian relief. When people do yoga, she explained, everyone is doing the same moves, but at their own pace and skill level. She said in terms of humanitarian efforts, “We can all be working in connection with each other but all as individuals.”

“Its really important to help out because the floods are covering one-fifth of the area of Pakistan,” Durrani said.

She added that its particularly important to assist Pakistan because of what she called the “issue of global stability and security,” in reference to the war in nearby Afghanistan.

GSE Professor Kathy Howard, who attended Saturday’s yoga session, said that she wanted to support Durrani’s efforts. “I think this is the biggest catastrophe in the world. I was surprised by the slow response,” Howard said.

“Yoga is a way to feel connected with the world,” she added.

The next yoga class will be held Sept. 25 at 1 p.m. in the ARCH auditorium. More classes are in the works for October and November, Durrani said.

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