Mindful Yoga Therapy in the Middle East - notes from Suzanne

Teaching Mindful Yoga Therapy in the Middle East We set out on May 22nd 2015 for Tel Aviv with our training manual and Practice Guide translated into Arabic for the trainings. It was a 10-hour flight.

Ramallah - a square in the center

There were 5 of us. The group consisted of me (Suzanne), Rob Schware (Executive Director, Give Back Yoga Foundation) Rama Jyoti Vernon and Ruth from 7 Centers Yoga Arts. The last two yoga teachers have worked in this area before. Alice Trembour, Rob’s wife, joined us the next day, and she provided a tremendous amount of support as Rob was not allowed into the women’s trainings.

We stayed in Jerusalem overnight and headed for Palestine in the morning.

Marketplace in Ramallah center

Farashe Yoga Center, Ramallah - Women's group training with Suzanne Manafort

We did four trainings in Ramallah and were greeted by a group from Farashe Yoga Center (the only yoga center in Ramallah) who also provided us with translators.

The first training was for women yoga teachers.

Farashe Yoga Center, Ramallah - Women's group training

For the first group, we conducted a four-day training split between Mindful Yoga Therapy training and the other two yoga teachers that came from Arizona.

The participants were incredibly eager and hungry for as much information as possible. They also shared some information with us about their culture, experiences, and their lives. They were convinced that these practices would make a difference in their lives and in the lives of others.

From left: Mohammed Khatib, Suzanne Manafort and Rob Schware in Ramallah

The second training was a private training for a young yoga teacher named Mohammad.

A young Palestinian, that would love to see change in his country and the world, Mohammed believes yoga can help to do that. He is also training for the 2016 Olympics as a sprinter. After the Olympics, he is committed to teaching yoga in Palestine and using it to change the world. I believe that he will!

See Mohammed's thoughts about the training.

Farashe Yoga Center, Ramallah  - Mindful Yoga Therapy Training for Psychosocial Workers in Refugee Camps

The next two trainings also separated the men from the women. They were for psychosocial workers that work in the refugee camps and with trauma on a regular basis. We were asked to bring them training on some simple practices that they could use with their patients and an explanation on why they work. They too are planning to use these practices as much as possible personally and professionally.

This trip was such a cultural experience, and the people of Palestine are the warmest people I have ever met. If you admire something they have, they will buy one for you. They are so kind and generous!

The cultural difference took a little getting used to. An example is the separation of men and women. Some people shook hands, and some people touched their own heart when they met you. I am still unclear on when to shake hands or not shake hands.

Mindful Yoga Therapy brought them each a mala for their new mediation practice.  They couldn’t have been more grateful and seemed very committed to using and teaching these practices.

The truth is, trauma is trauma no matter what culture you are submerged in and, in fact, some cultures and populations experience more than others. Our hope is that these yoga practices are adopted in this place, half way around the world, and that they are as successful as they have been for us.

We returned home on June 6th 2015. We (The Give Back Yoga Foundation and Mindful Yoga Therapy) will be working a plan to support our programs in this country and others. Stay tuned.

Namaste Palestine