REPORT ON OUR VISIT TO JERICHO, MAY 2006
"War is not the opposite of peace - it is the absence of peace" - David Sye
I was honoured by my friends and Shelley Hermon organising the very first Yogabeats? class to a select group of traditional Palestinian women in Jericho. I must admit to having been somewhat nervous in giving the class as I wasn`t sure how the women would take to some of the unorthodox, spontaneous action that is so much a part of Yogabeats.
So the class began slowly with Egyptian music that I had bought with me from Dahab filtering over the grassy lawn and children running in and out of the women. As the pace of the increased I realised that the women were laughing and giggling and finally howling with laughter as they rolled backwards with their legs up in the air, whilst at the same time the Imam at the Jericho Mosque was calling the faithful to prayer!
I have never been in such a surreal situation in my life. But the women were wonderful and would not let me go after the class. They wanted to purchase the Egyptian music and Rawan, who was in charge of the whole event, took us and our dear friend Suliman (who is a leading figure in the organisation Combatants for Peace) to her home for food and refreshments. Needless to say we will making Jericho a regular event on our Yogabeats? schedule as it gave such relief and joy in a political situation which is creating tremendous tension and anger.
As I said at the Israeli Teachers Association this year Yoga has a sociological duty and I believe must play a part in the solution of the Middle East crisis, otherwise it is part of the problem and can no longer just remain a middle class form of recreation. Yoga is the experience of peace and it takes peace away from ideas thoughts and politics which are all conceptual and transforms into being experiential. So students comprehend peace experientially and innately and this has much deeper consequences than mere political votes.
I would like to pay tribute to these wonderful ladies, whose only previous knowledge of Yoga was of a picture of a person from India sitting cross legged, and who bravely attended and showed such a sense of adventure in something so new to them. They have touched and changed my life with their grace, generosity and unbounded human spirit.
A Haiku Poem
(Written on the road from Bethlehem to Ramallah)
Across the hot stoney ground
A single breeze whispers through ancient Olive leaves
and ragged plastic bags flap upon a barbed wire fence.
Feedback from Jericho
This letter is produced exactly as we received it - It is broken English but we felt it should be printed exactly as it was sent
"i would like to thank you by all the participants name, and really it was exciting and we where all interested, becouse you make it so.
belive me (and ths is not a lie) you remind me to think of my self , and to feel my body and appreciate it , and that what we dont do usualy.
i dont know a lot about youga, even one of the girls told me ( i thought we will set on the floor and make our back straight , and put our hands on our nees, and thats it for may be an hour, becouse this is all we know about youga , but with you it was 100% defferent.
some of them called me , also the girls who couldnt make it to ask whin you can come back , and they wonder if it possible to stay longer time so you can teach them more moves,
as to me and my sister we loved it , and she is so glade to have this experience, so thank you very much." -
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