In November 2014 we carried out an initial assessment in the West Bank with the objectives to confirm the feasibility of the project and to progress on the project’s proposal based on needs, realities & constraints.
We met and exchanged with amazing and extremely dedicated yoga teachers: Maha and Suheir (Farashe Yoga Center, Ramallah), Nahed (Yoga with Nahed, Bethlehem), Eilda (Beit Ashams, Bethlehem), Mirna (Nablus) and Abeer (Zatareh). Most of these women were trained in the last years thanks to pioneer teachers training initiatives in the West Bank. Three teachers have opened yoga studios in Ramallah and Bethlehem creating spaces for Palestinian to discover and practice yoga. All of them teach regularly outreach classes in refugee camps, Bedouin villages or hospitals offering the opportunity for communities to experience yoga.
We attended one of these classes for women in Askar refugee camp in Nablus and listened to the students talking about the benefits of yoga. They all mentioned the quick and powerful impact yoga had on their lives, whether physical or emotional.
“During this hour we evacuate the stress, we escape from what’s happening outside to focus within” Ayat
“I don’t shout at my children anymore… when I feel stressed, I take a deep breath and I immediately calm down” Mariam
“I always felt stressed… now I feel myself opening up, becoming more free” Saba
“With yoga I have more energy when I wake up” Huda
The instructor, Mirna Ali, spends her whole day driving through busy Nablus to teach yoga classes
wherever needed: from a local gym to a refugee camp, a school or a workshop for public officials. Since she has first been introduced to yoga in 2010 she has persistently strive to share her positive experience with others. Right after her teachers training in Farashe she started teaching. If people were at first a little hesitant, she is now facing a growing demand for yoga, especially for outreach sessions in schools and refugee camps. “We need more yoga teachers in Nablus!”