The conflict between Israel and the Palestinian people has affected the region for over 60 years. For generations now, the Palestinian population has been exposed to violence, and as such affected by high levels of psychological stress hampering daily life.
In August-September 2015 we provided a free training to 21 women living in the West Bank in the Palestinian Territories to become yoga teachers. These women are now starting in turn to teach yoga in their communities, providing a simple tool to improve the wellbeing of hundreds of people in need of inner peace.
In the last few years a handful of Palestinian women have become yoga teachers and are teaching in their communities. However, the demand is still growing (“people here are hungry for yoga” says one of the local yoga teachers) especially in schools, villages and refugee camps. Our assessment in the West Bank last November confirmed the growing need.
With its well-known benefits on physical and mental health, yoga will rapidly help the Palestinians improve their daily life. Yoga will especially help people cope with the conflict’s psychological impact; alleviate stress, anxiety and depression; develop inner peace and enhance their general wellbeing.
The protracted conflict between the Palestinian people and Israel is extremely straining on the Palestinian people – military incursions, land confiscations, home destructions, movement restrictions, etc. For generations now, the Palestinian population has been exposed to violence, and as such affected by high levels of psychological stress hampering daily life.
The course was specifically tailored for the local needs and the curriculum included: Yoga philosophy; Meditation; Hatha yoga; Anatomy & physiology; Yoga for trauma; Yoga for pregnancy & Yoga for children.
The trainees came from different areas, creating a network of yoga teachers throughout the West Bank – Nablus, Jenin, East Jerusalem, Bethlehem, etc. The trainees selected were teachers, psychologists, midwifes and social workers, serving the most vulnerable and underserved communities – refugee camps, Bedouin villages, schools, hospitals etc. The project thus benefits directly the women being trained and indirectly their communities at large.
30% of the people living in the Palestinian Territories are under the age of 14, therefore, one of our main focuses was training the teachers in yoga for children. Hundreds of children will now have the opportunity to learn a unique empowering tool that will help them to relax, improve focus and concentration; develop self-esteem and confidence. Exposure to yoga will also introduce cornerstone values such as non-violence, gratitude, and self-discipline.
Moreover, Palestinian women have on average 4 children, so training midwives – in particular in prenatal & postnatal yoga – can help to reach out to pregnant women and young mothers at a special time in their lives.
The training took place in August-September 2015 and lasted 16 days including 10-day intensive and three follow-up weekends.
The training was offered free of charge to ensure the participation of women from lower incomes.