Peace, From the Inside Out: Promoting Yoga in the West Bank and Gaza

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The Give Back Yoga Foundation is partnering with citizen diplomat Rama Jyoti Vernon and 7 Centers Yoga Arts in Sedona to lead a new global initiative that will train Palestinian teachers how to share yoga as a tool for coping with daily stress and trauma.

YOGA FOR THE WEST BANK | Give Back Yoga Foundation

The Give Back Yoga Foundation is supporting a global initiative to promote the peaceful practice of yoga in the West Bank and Gaza.

“We share a common belief that the therapeutic practice of yoga can empower those living with conflict and unrest by providing lasting tools to relieve symptoms of stress and trauma,” says Give Back Yoga Executive Director Rob Schware.

Yoga is largely unknown among Palestinians. But over the past two years, more Palestinians -- women in particular -- have started to embrace the discipline as a way of coping with the stresses of prolonged conflict. These daily stressors include political unrest, commuting through military checkpoints, unstable employment, and restrictions on movement and access.

This spring, the Give Back Yoga Foundation is collaborating with American yoga pioneer Rama Vernon and 7 Centers Yoga Arts in Sedona to support Palestinians' exploration and use of yoga in everyday life.

On May 23, 2015, lead teachers from these organizations will travel to the Farashe Yoga Center in Ramallah to lead a two-week training for up to 30 Palestinian teachers. The newly trained teachers will then take yoga back to their communities, sharing the practice in urban refugee camps, schools, hospitals, and other venues.

A second phase of this initiative will invite world-renowned yoga teachers to take part in the first international yoga conference, to be held in the West Bank region in June 2016. Visiting teachers will participate in conference activities and lead hands-on workshops for Palestine-based yoga teachers, helping to develop effective yoga programming for students. After the conference, there will be a one-week service opportunity for newly trained teachers to apply these principles in their lives and in the community.

This initiative builds on previous trainings that other great yoga organizations like Anahata International, the Niroga Institute, and Olive Tree Yoga have brought to the West Bank and Gaza.

“We share a common belief that the therapeutic practice of yoga can empower those living with conflict and unrest by providing lasting tools to relieve symptoms of stress and trauma,” says Give Back Yoga Executive Director Rob Schware. “As a tool for inner transformation and growth, yoga can also plant seeds of peace that can blossom into positive change.”

Yoga studios around the world are invited to be a part of this global effort by sponsoring a Palestinian teacher to attend the pre-conference training in 2015, and by attending the 1st International Yoga Conference in June 2016. To learn more about this inaugural project and how you or your organization can participate, please visit http://givebackyoga.org/yoga-for-the-west-bank or email yoga@7centers.com.

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About Give Back Yoga:
The Give Back Yoga Foundation is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to making yoga available to those who might not otherwise experience this transformational practice. We believe that the methodology of classical yoga (including asana, breathing, and meditation) is a tangible tool for transforming human consciousness. The experience of yoga is to go beyond separateness, alienation, and diversity to fully recognize the fundamental unity of the universe and the underlying connectedness among all beings, communities, nations and religions. Visit us on the web at http://givebackyoga.org.

About Rama Jyoti Vernon:
Rama Vernon is yoga’s citizen diplomat and one of the first yoga teachers in the USA. She served as founding President of the Center for International Dialogue, organizing citizens to catalyze policy changes between the US and USSR and leading a series of Arab-American Dialogue roundtables during the Gulf War. Rama is also the co-founder of Yoga Journal, started in the early 1970s as a means to foster communication among yoga teachers. Learn more at http://ramajyotivernon.com/about-rama/.

About Farashe Yoga Center:
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. Learn more at http://farasheyoga.org.

About 7 Centers Yoga Arts
7 Center Yoga Arts in Sedona, Arizona is known for its teacher trainings, which attract a diverse group of students from all over the world who are looking for a classical foundation in 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 on citizen diplomacy. Learn more at http://www.7centers-yoga.com/yoga-palestine/.

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