When Fakhria Ibrahimi Momtaz was born in 1977, Kabul was a midsize mountain town, considered by many European tourists as an “exotic” and inexpensive stopover on the overland “hippie trail” route to India.
Photographs from Kabul at that time show young men in bell-bottom trousers and young women in short skirts and stylish updos, strolling down tree-lined avenues. A yogi sitting in lotus pose outside of a roadside tea shop would not have seemed out of place back then. But today, mention of Kabul often brings to mind a very different picture: war and bombed-out buildings without electricity or running water. Today, yoga and Afghanistan might seem incongruous with each other.
That is, until you meet Fakhria Ibrahimi Momtaz, the woman behind Kabul’s Momtaz Yoga Center—a studio designed to offer a safe space for women to gather, in a country still struggling with instability.