Yoga has been used as a valuable tool for healing in places of conflict. While the practice itself can help people who lived through the trauma of war, some yoga teachers found that their practice can be used as an art form to shine light people who live under illegal occupation.

Linda Rahmat, who began her yoga photoseries, Pranascapes, on Instagram, photographed Palestinians practicing yoga in various places in the West Bank in October 2016. The photos helped them tell their stories as they posed in various asana along the Apartheid Wall, at Aida refugee Camp, and other distinctive locations. 

(Palestine series) Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana – Since I come from a dancing background it was always about doing the movement not the journey of it. With yoga, I begin to have more awareness of every movement I make and it has really change my perspective. I become optimistic. I understand how to let go of things. And most importantly it helped me to accept myself, something that i was struggling before. It taught me how to love. – Kamel Saif (Palestinian yogi & dancer) ________________________________________________ #freepalestine #yogainpalestine #westbank #endwar #BDS #asana #wewantpeace #prana #scapes #metropolis #mysore #ashtanga #primaryseries #bnw #blackwhitephotography #quotes #urban #streets #foto_blackwhite #yogaphotography #endtheocupation #unitedforpalestine #wearewithpalestine #peace #freedom

A photo posted by Linda Rahmat (@pranascapes) on

Pranascapes began as Rahmat’s Instagram project to photograph yoga practitioners around the world. Whether it be on the beach at sunset or overlooking a high cliff from a mountaintop like many popular yoga selfies, or even in the concrete urban landscape. Rahmat, wanted to feature yoga practitioners she met during her travels in their element and at one with their surrounings.

She said the idea to photograph yoga practioners in Palestine came as she and yoga teacher, Nigel Marshall, were discussing the conflict there. 

Although they wanted to help, they knew that their monetary donations, or even time volunteering at Olive farms, would not necessarily reach the people who needed it most.

It was then they decided that the best way to use their talents would be to go to the West Bank and shed light on the Palestinians themselves through photographs for the whole world to see. Marshall was able to get in touch with Farashe Yoga Studio in Ramallah where he, and fellow yoga teacher Dale Hoole, taught Ashtanga yoga, while Rahmat documented their journey through her lens. 

(Palestine series) Kapotasana – The one thing I can never understand is the fighting and killing because all of us will die at some point! It doesn’t matter if you’re white or black, tall or short, what religion or nationality you have, you come from a city, village or camps, if you are a refugee or a returner we all have the same divine and we all came from Africa that’s what Henri Lopez said and it’s good to be different because without this there will be no creativity. Rumi says the truth was a mirror with god’s hands, it fell apart, everyone got a piece and he thought that he owns it all! Sadhguru said, we have to make people realize that god doesn’t need soldiers who fight for him. Dying is not a punishment; it’s just a transformation phase, the law of universe is leaving this world so the law of any relationship is breaking up, so you should get used to it when people leave. It’s hard and painful but this is reality! Sadhguru said: I learned that people leave. Even if they have promised a thousand times that they won’t. – Mariam Fares (Palestinian Ashtangi) ———————————————————————– #freepalestine #yogainpalestine #westbank #ramallah #asana #prana #mysore #ashtanga #blackwhitephotography #streets #foto_blackwhite #bnwmood #bnw_life #yogainspiration #wewantpeace #BDS #unitedforpalestine #freedom #peace #ashtangi #kapotasana #secondseries #yogaphotography

A photo posted by Linda Rahmat (@pranascapes) on

More people in Palestine were starting to use yoga as a means to help young people heal from the trauma of abuse in  Israel prisons, and as a tool to combat political and personal struggles from living under occupation in the West Bank. Two students from Farashe Yoga studio, Mariam Fares and Kamel Saif, along with Marshall and Hoole, were the subjects of Pranascape’s Palestine Yoga Photoseries. She said it was important to show Palestinians in a non-negative light – simply as indivuduals who love yoga!

According to Rahmat, teachers in Palestine are hoping the photos will create a buzz and inspire more yoga teachers to go to Palestine and help cultivate the emerging yoga scene. She said many people have a misconception in their minds that Palestine is a dangrous place. But she wanted the photoseries to make a statement and to show that Palestinians are a warm and friendly people.

“They want the yoga world to know that teaching in Palestine is an incredible gift. I hope that this photo series can have a rippling effect within the yoga community,” she said in an email to World Yoga News.

(Palestine series) Adho Mukha Shvanasana – The thirty-foot concrete separation wall, that Israel has illegally erected around Palestine is referred to as “The Apartheid Wall”. The people of Palestine are permanently in a crisis situation; their existence are threatened, controlled and their basic human rights are rendered non-existent. One of the ways Palestinians are asking the world to support their non-violent struggle for basic human rights is via the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. BDS works to end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law. And I strongly believe that the yoga community should acknowledge that the principles of BDS apply to them also – Nigel Marshall (Mysore teacher) ____________________________________________ #freepalestine #yogainpalestine #westbank #endwar #BDS #asana #wewantpeace #prana #scapes #metropolis #mysore #ashtanga #primaryseries #bnw #blackwhitephotography #quotes #urban #streets #foto_blackwhite #yogaphotography #endtheocupation #unitedforpalestine #wearewithpalestine #peace #freedom

A photo posted by Linda Rahmat (@pranascapes) on

Many Palestinians Rahmat met in the West Bank very rarely saw tourists and she hopes the photoseries will inspire other yoga teachers to make the trip and offer yoga classes. The group is hoping to return to Palestine to not only teach yoga but also conduct teacher training workshops so that local Palestinians will be able to teach yoga themselves.

For information on teaching yoga in Palestine, get in touch with Linda Rahmat of Pranascapes, or Aisha Mansour of Farashe Yoga in Ramallah. 

To view the complete Palestine series, visit Pranascapes on Instagram.


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