Dabka, knafeh and chair yoga in busy Nablus

Yesterday, after the first intensive part of the training, the Peace Within Project’s team went to Nablus, an ancient roman city in the northern West Bank, now a commercial and cultural hub.

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Mirna from Nablus & Nahed from Bethlehem

The program – organized by Mirna Ali the first yoga teacher in the city – was intense and included yoga classes in a women’s association, a school and a refugee camp. The idea was to introduce yoga to various groups – women, seniors, men & children. If interested, they can now continue to practice with one of the new yoga teachers from the city.

After a two-hour ride from Bethlehem, hopping from taxis to local buses, loaded with yoga mats, we arrived in Nablus.

We started in the Palestinian Women’s club with a beginners’ class for women. We introduced deep abdominal breath, sun salutations, basic asanas and relaxation. With barely any time to say goodbye and take a picture it was already time to start the next class!

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After class pose with the Palestinian Women’s Club

Still in the women’s association, 20 “golden girls” were chatting while waiting for their turn. Nahed offered a dynamic class of chair yoga, which is a complete practice adapted to seniors or people with limited mobility and involves forward and backward bends, twists and stretches of all body parts.

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Happy chair yoginis

After the class, beside tea and coffee, we were offered to try on the “abaya” or traditional Palestinian dress and to pick up a few steps of “dabqa” dance.

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Ready to perform

We carried on with a kids’ yoga class in the American Academy where we embarked with some 10 year-old on a journey exploring the 5 senses and the idea of “pratyahara” (withdrawal of the senses – one the raja yoga limbs).

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Last stop in Askar camp, home to 30,000 refugees since 1950. There, we offered a class to young men of the camp in the Keffiyeh center a social association that we already visited during the initial assessment. Sabreen one of our trainees is from Askar and plans to continue sharing yoga there to women and children.

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At last, we couldn’t leave without tasting a “knafeh” a local delicacy – an interesting, to say the least, traditional cheese pastry soaked in sweet syrup. “Sahten!” (bon appétit)

Knafeh

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