Normally, yoga is seen as being for middle class types trying to find themselves, with a particular penchant for tribal tattoos and herbal teas. However this November, a group of 25 Palestinians have been invited to complete their yoga training in the Canary Islands. Via crowd funding, the aim according to the organizers, Yogabeats, is to invite them over for stretches and doggy positions in the sun.
At the time of writing, much love has been shown towards the cause as they have raised just over £2000 of the £17000 required to fly them over on Indiegogo. The money will go towards paying for visas, safe passage to and from the West Bank and flights. The group is also looking for sponsors to get involved alongside public crowdfunding.
Yogabeats goal according to their website, is a "non traditional approach to the practice of yoga that was initially only supported by leading Physiotherapists, Osteopaths/body workers in the UK and Europe and not the Yoga community at the time. As Yogabeats' radical approach flew in the face of traditional Yoga, which advocated spontaneous self-movement and adjustments, dramatically increasing the bodies own facial strength, health and somatic joy."
Since 2004 David Sye, the organizer of Yogabeats, (cousin of Amy Winehouse and son of 60's singer, Frankie Vaughn) has travelled regularly to the West Bank using yoga as a means to break down barriers and change perceptions.
Being involved with yoga for over 30 years, Sye suffered from a crippling physical condition that drove him to seek out an alternative solution to the looming possibility of an intestinal bypass operation that the medical profession had proclaimed was the final prognosis to his condition.
According to David himself, speaking to Yoga Magazine: "Around that time I had heard of a couple of yogis who had trained in Tibet and professed to be able to cure my condition, and to cut a long story short, the encounter with these yogis not only completely reversed my physical condition but changed the entire direction of my life and I ended up studying pure metaphysics alongside yoga and then later qualifying as a yoga teacher myself."
In June 2014, David held the first Yogabeats foundation teacher training course in Bethlehem allowing the participants to gain invaluable skills to help themselves and their communities cope with life in a conflict zone ruled by fear.
Of course, given the nature of the geopolitical situation at present, their civil liberties are controlled via checkpoints, routine checks and the like. Plus the possibility of arrest and intimidation is ever present, so much so that it is accepted as a normal for the Palestinian people.
The Yogabeats training primarily concentrates on giving the students psychological skills to cope with life back home, whether the conflict is internal or external. The objective is to give the Palestinians valuable skills and behavioral tools for themselves and their society.
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