Starting May 21st, I will take a brief sabbatical from Adeline Yoga to take a trip to the Middle East and North Africa. I wanted to share with you my itinerary which will be May 21 – June 24th!
First Stop: Jordan. The country of Jordan has had a small yet growing Iyengar Yoga community for nearly fifteen years. There are three certified Iyengar teachers in Amman who teach regular public classes. Senior teachers from Europe and RIMYI in Pune travel to Amman to conduct workshops and help deepen the knowledge of our practice. Some of the practitioners are expats. Others received their educations abroad. I taught in Jordan two years ago, and had a fantastic time. I was very impressed by the strength of the community, and their commitment to their own practice.
Second Stop: Palestine. My time in Palestine will be completely the opposite. There is no Iyengar Yoga there, and people apply their yoga practice in their lives very differently.
.Farashe Yoga Center is organizing my time in Palestine. You may remember seeing their pictures a year ago – it was all over the news. Everyone involved with the organization volunteers their time to the Center. And, I will do the same.
I will be working with people who also volunteer their time in service of yoga all over Palestine: some teach in schools, some of the women teach in the cancer, diabetes and even cancer survivors and another a group of elderly women including my mother in law! The folks come to this yoga center from from Ni’ilin, Zaaterah village, Nablus and refugee camps in Bethlehem and Ramallah. They range in profession: teachers, psychosocial counselors, nurses, mothers, community workers, etc. Healers of all kinds! I have not worked with Farashe before. This will be their first introduction to Iyengar yoga.
I will be donating my efforts to support these Palestinians interested in learning more. I am also donating some basic things I have like belts, eye wraps and Iyengar yoga source materials.
Yes, I do have some trepidation about this leg of the trip. On the one hand, I love being in Palestine. I have always felt comfortable there, despite everything. It is a truly spiritual place, and I am able to access a different part of myself when I am there. The people, signs and food feel like home to me, and I enjoy spending time with my husband’s family. Yet, June is likely to be hot. Tempers rise for everyone, including myself. I will be traveling within Palestine more than usual, which will inherently expose me to more danger.
Still, I want to do this trip because there are a group of people who are excited to learn. And they need yoga! When the world outside is in chaos, at least yoga can bring brief moments of peace and reconciliation inside. I am sure that for many of these women, the moments inside are the only peace that they get in their lives. And, I know that many of them are teachers. The peace that I can help them find will help hundreds more people to find some peace as well.
Gurujii has inspired us to do this sort of travel. He has journeyed many, many times across the globe to teach anyone who wanted to practice Yoga. He wants everyone to access the benefits of this practice. And, he has been tireless in his efforts, despite real obstacles that he has faced. In the early days of his teaching he experienced racism and deprivation. Yet, he persevered. Probably because he had no choice – the spirit of yoga has always overflowed in him!
The spirit to serve runs strong in me. I know that I too must go and share Iyengar Yoga with anyone who wants to learn. The recent conference at UC Berkeley on Yoga: Questions of Access and Inclusion called out important questions of how people can access the benefits of the yoga practice when they don’t have money, time or teachers. At Adeline Yoga, we do our best to break down these barriers for people who live in our neighborhoods. And there is still so much more to do! Likewise, I hope that with this trip I will be able to give of myself on a more global level. The saying is to Think Global, Act Local. The path of the yogi is to Do. Gurujii has been telling us many versions of “Just Do It” for decades before any corporations gave us the idea….So off I go…to Do.
Third Stop: Morocco. My time in Morocco will be a sabbatical from teaching, a time to go deeper into my own personal practice. We will start in Fez at the Sacred Music Festival, and then travel the country a bit. We have arranged roof-top terraces for my asana practice. And, I hope that the Sacred Music Festival will give me an even deeper understanding of Yoga overall. I will be in Morocco with Ann Dyer and participants of her Vak Choir – including my mother! I am sure to learn much from this experience.
Bashir my husband will be my guide, translator and co-conspirator throughout this trip.
During this time away, I look forward to checking in with all interested readers. I will be back teaching Wednesday, June 25th.
In the mean time, I am doing a small fundraising effort to bring Iyengar yoga resources to the people I teach in Palestine. If you would like to support this effort to Do, please let me know. The more money I raise, the more props and books I will be able to bring.