“Hi! My name is Amira, I like animals, I practice and teach yoga, I climb and I talk a lot about all things plant-based and environmental!
I had a pretty ordinary life until my early twenties. I grew up in Cairo in a loving home, was always a good student and was relatively healthy. I just had a thing for not listening to people. As bad as that sounds, it was the reason I pushed boundaries, it was the reason I learnt everything and it was the reason I am who I am today.
I started traveling without my parents in my teens. That taught me to be tolerant and accepting. It was the reason I ventured into many different concepts and experiments and if it suited me, I would carry it along and allow it to change me, if not, I would drop it, let it go and move on. No attachments, no regrets.”
Tell us more about your journey with yoga… how did it make you become the person you are today?
“I got my first back injury when I was around 12, in ballet. My doctors advised me to stay away from any kind of physical activity. My mom took me to my first yoga class sometime in my late teens. I found it the most boring thing ever and never went back.
At age 21, I hurt my back badly and traveled to undergo surgery. The surgery helped, at least on x-rays, but even after physiotherapy, in Germany and in Egypt, I wasn’t that much better in how I felt physically.
I was going through some emotional trauma in 2014 and I was just looking for something to do for myself. I started practicing the slowest sequences of hatha and restorative yoga quietly in my room. I would wake up really early to practice in the dark so that no one would know about what I’m doing. I only had youtube and a prayer rug for my practice. It changed my life, I started doing more of it and started opening up about it. I went to my first class later that year or early 2015 and started practicing vinyasa flow and later on ashtanga vinyasa.
Besides adopting a plant-based diet, yoga was the only thing that saved me. I remember a time when walking wasn’t even accessible and it seems like a whole other lifetime now!
I also find that my practice is a true reflection of my feelings and how I react to everything in life. I love observing that and making adjustments accordingly, on and off the mat.”
You are also a climber… how did your passion for climbing start and what is it about climbing that you love?
“I think I’ve always found climbing things appealing. As a child, I found any movie set in a jungle attractive. I would watch and wait till the characters climbed trees. I also always liked heights and ropes. I used to nag as a child to board planes.
A few years back I contacted a climber I admired on Instagram. He told me that he was organizing a trip to Wadi Gnai, Dahab and that I was welcomed to join as a beginner. I went, fell in love with climbing and then started climbing indoors in Cairo earlier this year. I sadly had to take a break because climbing too much with an imperfect technique cause an old acro-yoga injury to get inflamed. I recently decided to limit the climbing to outdoors so even if I have to withstand the inflammation, then at least it is for what I truly enjoy; climbing actual mountains!”
Why and when did you decide to become vegan? What effect did that have on you?
“Believe it or not, going vegan was unplanned for.
I had read about the raw vegan diet a long time ago and I was always thinking “oh, one day, maybe when I’m 50 I’ll do that to reverse all the damage I’m doing now.” It was also a time when I was becoming very sensitive to animal abuse.
I was spending a long weekend by myself in spring 2015. I was “treating” myself to crepe with Nutella and youtube in bed. I accidently started watching a video called “101 reasons to go vegan,” thinking this is just some sort of cutsie animated video and I’ll see reason number 1, number 2 and so on. Little did I know; this video would change my life. 30 minutes in, I was crying like a baby. By the end of it, I knew I’d never be part of the animal farming industry ever again.
I didn’t say things like I’m vegan now. Actually, everyone I knew was out of town so I didn’t share it except with my sister. I had little appetite for food the rest of the day. Anything I ate after that was vegan.
Going vegan, and later on adopting more of 95% whole foods plant-based diet, saved me in all seriousness of the world.
I had calcium and vitamin-D deficiency and all the dairy milk and supplements didn’t help but leafy greens did.
I had lots of inflammation, causing my back pain. Gone.
IBS and chronic constipation? Gone. Especially after surgery, all the medication I was taking ruined my digestive system and nothing was working for me.
Cystic acne? I was on antibiotics and I took Accutane twice (please, look up Accutane and then make sure everyone you know doesn’t take this)! Nothing improved my skin except my diet.
Losing hair and excessive body hair growth? Fixed.
The worst menstrual cramps and PMS symptoms were some of the most limiting things in my life and now they are a thing of the past.
I can literally fill two pages with how much it improved my life and how different my energy is now, but I’d say, try it for yourself ;)”
What does “healthy” mean to you?
“Healthy is definitely a mindset. It encompasses everything you do, not just what you eat or if you exercise. Healthy is what you put in your body and how you react. Healthy is also what you think and what you feel.”
What are the three things that are essential in your daily routine?
“Remembering what I’m grateful for.
Communicating with my sister.
Being in nature, even if it just means walking barefoot on the grass for 5 minutes.”
Please share with us your favorite plant-based recipe.
“This might come off as a surprise. It’s a rice bowl. I just combine brown or wild rice with steamed kale, sun-dried tomatoes, sweet corn, beans or tofu and pine nuts. I sometimes add avocados, hummus or sauerkraut. It is one dish I never get bored of! Here’s a detailed recipe:
Tell us about a funny story you’ve encountered in your journey.
“Hmm, this is taking me the longest… I think I smile and laugh everyday but it’s strange how I can’t recall a specific situation.
Alright, this isn’t exactly related to me but we woke up one morning to find our very light-haired golden retriever purple! He rolled under the mulberry tree and there were so many ripe mulberries on the ground. It took us a few minutes to figure out what had happened and we couldn’t stop laughing. Poor him didn’t get why we were just watching him and laughing hysterically, but I think he also loved the attention!”
Who do you aspire to become?
“I aspire to do good. I actually aspire to do so much good that I become it.
But when you think about it, you don’t want to arrive, you want to keep learning and changing.
If I can ever become a human manifestation of my values and beliefs, then maybe that would be good enough, that would mean I’m always moving forward and never arriving.”