A Muslim Yogi Examines Faith On The Mat

Ahmed Soliman, 40, felt so distraught about the recent travel bans, he shared his grievances with friends at Kula Yoga. Normally reserved about his political views, Soliman, an Egyptian native and American citizen, saw the executive orders as creating yet more discrimination against Muslims. He also had a hunch yoga could bridge profound gaps.

The Kula community responded to him with what he described as “astounding support” that

led to an educational event on this issue. “When Ahmed wrote to us and told us how much what we were doing moved him, I felt reminded that this is why I own a yoga studio,” said Nikki Vilella, Kula’s co-director.

Knowing how much our readers care about these issues, Soliman, a yoga teacher at Kula and Pure, and also an ecologist and wildlife biologist, spoke to YogaCity NYC’s Ann Votaw about faith versus the mat.

Ann Votaw: How were you affected by the travel bans?

Ahmed Soliman: I haven’t been affected personally because I became a U.S. citizen in 1999. But the day of the of the first ban, I went out to JFK Airport to protest, but I couldn’t get through and ended up at Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn in front of the courthouse.

The travel bans brought back how Muslims are often blamed for things. If I hear of a bombing or an explosion, I wonder, “Who are they going to blame for this now?”

AV: Our First Amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”

AS: Our Constitution says one thing, but unfortunately, our president and politicians break more constitutional laws than the common man.