Shukriya, originally from Aleppo, has lived in refugee settlements in Bekaa valley, Lebanon, for the last six years. Tools for Inner Peace have been training her as a community yoga teacher for three years since 2020.
She smiles when she talks about her experience, “Yoga relaxes me and brings me pleasure. The classes are really beautiful.”
“I’ve been doing yoga for four years now, and so much has changed since the first class. After the third class I started experiencing big improvements. I felt changes in my breath and in my overall energy. Whatever stiffness I would feel, I would just go to the class and it would be gone. If I felt anxiety, it would just go during the class.
“It became like an addiction. I had so much good energy. Every time I would come for a class, I would feel optimistic afterwards. I would feel fresh, as if reborn. It’s like every time you enter a class you’re entering a different world. You detach from the world, to a world where there are no problems.
“My life used to be full of stress, of pressure. It still is, but now when I feel that pressure I can do a yoga exercise and I feel better. I used to feel tense and be irritable around people, now I feel calmer, less stressed. When your body relaxes your mind does too.”
Shukriya recently gave her first class to other refugees. How was it?
“In the beginning I was nervous, but when I saw the students I felt confident, I felt proud to be a teacher. There was something so beautiful about it. I felt like I’m doing something, I’m leaving a mark, I’m making a difference. I don’t know how to read and write, and in yoga I don’t need that. I felt like even though I can’t read or write, I’m making a difference in society. Other than the practice itself, I now have a skill that I can earn an income from. I felt like I was no-one, I was not doing anything. I was just eating, drinking, sleeping. Then suddenly there is something more to life.”