Palestinian woman uses yoga therapy to help people improve health amid COVID-19

RAMALLAH (Xinhua) – Ameera Nejem, a Palestinian yoga instructor from Ramallah, is dedicated to helping her students maintain mental and physical health amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic through yoga therapy.

Playing relaxing music, the 36-year-old coach teaches her students the way to stretch and flex their muscles and asked them to “focus on their inner self rather than the surrounding environment” during the practice.

“I received training in India, the country where yoga originated from,” Nejem said, adding that she used the practice to get rid of her “negative energy”. But it is not only herself that she is trying to help. Nejem became a yoga instructor six years ago.

It was not easy at the begining. She recalled that she faced rejections when she performed yoga in public places. “Every unknown thing will be rejected, but later it will be accepted by the people, especially when they discover its benefits,” she said.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nejem had to close her yoga studio in March, and she was able to re-open her studio in August after the anti-coronavirus closure was relaxed.

Currently she teaches six classes everyday and in each class she has around 15 students. Besides teaching indoors, she would sometimes move her classes to the open air due to the concerns over the pandemic. She believes that the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the Palestinian territories has negatively affected many people’s psychological state, and that is why, when she re-opened her studio, dozens of people required to join her classes.

Haya Al-Omari is one of Nejem’s students who joined yoga classes a month ago. She told Xinhua that she suffered from stress during the lockdown period, adding that she feels better after practicing yoga.

“It helped me to communicate with my internal body as well as with the nature and that helped me become relaxed,” the 25-year-old said, adding that she learned how to get rid of stress despite “negative circumstances”.

Zahir Muhammed, a male student, said it has been helpful for him to restore his natural personality and sense of humour by spending three hours a week practicing yoga.

Yoga practicing has been gaining popularity in Palestine. There are currently hundreds of gyms that offer yoga classes across the Palestinian territories, according to Nejem.