Of the 60 million refugees in the world as many as 50% suffer from trauma and mental health problems. Those we work with - whether in London or in Lebanon - are finding solace in yoga. Their open smiles at the end of each class testify to the benefits.
Yoga is a simple, cheap and effective means of trauma recovery. It soothes the nervous system; relaxes the body and mind; and brings peace and inner clarity.
Since January 2017, Tools for Inner Peace has been volunteering in Bekaa valley, Lebanon, where 800,000 Syrian refugees live in informal camps. We have been delivering yoga and relaxation techniques to women and children, as a way of providing relief from war trauma and helping them cope with their daily lives.
Here is how a refugee from Afghanistan described her experience of this summer's Restorative Retreat for refugee women:
With tools to manage stress and recover from trauma, the widespread mental health problems among refugees can be reduced. The various yoga techniques taught in our classes work on the nervous system to bring about profound relaxation. The parasympathetic nervous system is stimulated, strengthening the relaxation response, while the sympathetic nervous system with its stress response calms down. This reduces such symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder as insomnia, anxiety, panic attacks, anger and stress-related physical ailments.
In Lebanon, our Yoga for Peace work with Syrian refugees is coming into its second year. We will be handing over to local yoga teachers to keep it growing and make it sustainable.
Our Lebanese partner, Salam LADC, has launched a campaign to raise stipends for the local yoga teachers. £23 can support one class; £92 can support one week of classes. Click here if you’d like to donate via Generosity.com
To expand this work and make yoga accessible to refugees everywhere, we need your help, whether in donations or by giving your time volunteering.
We are also looking for experienced yoga teachers from UK or beyond to volunteer in Lebanon as mentors and guides. Please get in touch with Minna or Yanar on firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.
Our Yoga for Peace project in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon in numbers:
- 7 weekly classes
- Attended by 100 women
- Plus 300 kids involved in yoga activities in settlements and schools
Please share our video below with your friends, family, yoga students, neighbours and wider community. Pass around a collection box, organise a bake sale or a donations-based yoga class. In this season of giving, you could surprise a loved one with the unique gift of bringing joy to others. As Mother Teresa has observed, "Peace begins with a smile."