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Yoga for the West Bank: A Program for Palestinian Yoga Teachers

Give Back Yoga is honored to support a new global initiative that will train Palestinian yoga teachers to share this transformational practice as a tool for inner peace in the politically unstable region of the West Bank. Yoga is largely unknown among Palestinians. But over the past two years, more Palestinians — women in particular — have embraced the discipline as a way of coping with the stresses of prolonged conflict. These daily stresses include political unrest, commuting through military checkpoints, unstable employment, and restrictions on movement and access.

By sharing yoga, we can give those affected by conflict and unrest an opportunity to experience inner harmony, while planting seeds of peace and hope that may continue to blossom in coming generations.

This initiative builds on the work that has already been done by great yoga organizations like Niroga Institute, Anahata International and Olive Tree Yoga, who have each led yoga trainings in the region.

Training Local Teachers

In May 2015, Give Back Yoga representatives traveled to Farashe Yoga Center in Ramallah. There, Mindful Yoga Therapy founder Suzanne Manafort led a two-week teacher training alongside Rama Jyoti Vernon and 7 Centers Yoga Arts, sharing techniques and the underlying science of trauma-sensitive yoga with a group of Palestinian yoga teachers and students. Through this training, the new teachers hope to bring yoga into urban refugee camps, schools, hospitals, and more.

MYT in the West Bank
Mindful Yoga Therapy - Arabic Translation

We brought yoga teachers in the West Bank an Arabic translation of the Mindful Yoga Therapy practice guide, giving them a resource for sharing yoga practices that help students to cope with stress and trauma. Originally developed for veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress, the Mindful Yoga Therapy program offers an accessible “toolbox” of asana, yoga nidra, breath work, meditation and gratitude to calm the nervous system.

Ongoing Support

Through our trip to Ramallah, we forged strong and lasting bonds with yoga teachers and other professionals who wish to share yoga as a valuable tool to address the realities of life in the West Bank. They are enthusiastic about the vision of helping yoga to spread, and finding the places and people who will benefit most from its gifts. We plan to continue collaborating with this group to foster the growth of yoga in Palestine. Support this work by making a donation, below.

Donate to Yoga for the West Bank

Make a Difference

If you believe in this practice as a tool for peace and healing, we invite you to make a donation to support the growth of yoga in this politically unstable region. For $250, you can sponsor a Palestinian yoga teacher to attend five days of training. Donations of any amount are welcomed.

About our Partners

Rama Jyoti Vernon is yoga’s citizen diplomat and one of the first yoga teachers in the USA. She is the founding President of the Center for International Dialogue, organizing citizens to catalyze policy changes between the US and USSR. During the Gulf War, she led a series of Arab-American Dialogue roundtables, and served on the founding committee of the Gulf Humanitarian Fund, one of the first US organizations to send aid to civilian victims in Iraq as well as Kurdish refugees. Rama is also the co-founder of Yoga Journal, started in the early 1970s as a means to foster communication among yoga teachers.

Farashe Yoga Center is a community yoga center based in the heart of Ramallah. Farashe means “butterfly” in Arabic; and as reflected by its name, Farashe believes that yoga is a catalyst for transformation and growth within ourselves, families, communities and world. Give Back Yoga is honored to have supported Farashe’s founding, helping the organization to begin operating as the first yoga center in the West Bank.

7 Centers Yoga Arts in Sedona, Arizona is known for its teacher trainings, which attract a diverse group of students from all over the United States, Canada, and the world who are looking for a classical foundation in yoga. By emphasizing the universality of these teachings, 7 Centers helps students to learn how to use the practice of yoga as a personal tool for creating health and well-being in daily life. Over the next two years, 7 Centers will host a series of workshops that will be offered in three phases for anyone who would like to learn how to become a citizen diplomat, using principles found in the yoga sutras.