Photo Credit: Serge Attal / Flash 90
Israelis practicing yoga in Om Beach, Goa, India.

Should the growing, popular movement of yoga be allowed to join the political boycott movement?

This question disturbed me when I was on the email list at a Yoga studio in Toronto and received an email from the owner of the same studio, making apologies for her choice to run her yoga retreat in her Jewish Homeland.

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Responding to the attempts by some of her clients to nudge her about her chosen destination, she wrote that she had received “.. emails expressing concerns about the yoga and touring trip I am leading to Israel in May. I would like to clarify my position and explain why I am committed to this trip.”

She then went on to assure her clients that she would be “visiting both Palestinian retreat centers and Jewish retreat centers.” Also, she did not condone Israel’s response in Gaza but she also didn’t “blame all of Israel and the Israeli people for it.” Moreover, “..our mission is not political by nature. We will travel in the spirit of open minded compassion and curiosity that hopefully will engender open dialogue between ourselves and those Israelis and Palestinians that we encounter.”

As owner of a yoga training outfit in Israel, I found her email so disturbing, it made me wonder how individuals who supposedly work on centering their bodies and minds could go as far as questioning conducting a yoga retreat in Israel, where, because of the complex conflict, there should be even more balancing of minds and hearts.

I began to wonder if people in the yoga community may be clicking to my website and saying to themselves: “I won’t go to her yoga training, she runs a program in Israel.”

This type of boycott, created by the fiercely aggressive BDS, should not be accepted by the yoga community and should stay “off the mat.” Yoga has been proven to be an effective stress reducing practice in Israel, a country that is in constant tension. Yoga can help to unite people by bringing people onto their mats to explore a basic natural state of human beings.

Yoga is practiced in Israel by both Jews and Arabs. The holistic health movement and the healing arts are so widespread in Israel that practically everyone there is a healer. Israelis love healing, yoga, health, and holistic sensibilities, and, in fact, India and Israel have such a similar history that many Israelis find themselves drawn to visit India. They both share a deep religious history, a history of bloodshed and terrorism, and a rise in the advancement of the hi-tech industry.

So, my question to the larger yoga community is: will you one day post “Israel Apartheid” all over your yoga journal? Will Yoga Star Sean Corn hold her amnesty international logo in one hand and her Free Palestine logo in the other? Will you be shouting out that this boycott is protesting the collective punishment of Palestinians, only to then collectively punish the Jews in Israel?

I hope that the yoga mat remain a symbol of peace, love, understanding, and balance, and that the radical, imbalanced aggression of the far left BDS does not find its way onto the precious yoga mat.

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31 COMMENTS

  1. If you run a program in Israel and are sympathetic to the Zionist state then I will boycott you, it is that simple. This is how we can effect change for those that are oppressed without violence. It is called peaceful resistance.

  2. yea-well it already has been part of a a lot yoga circles in America, unfortunately in my experience, to be peace and love for everyone-except Israel – because it's the "progressive liberal thing" to do I can name one or two yoga teachers (but I won't) who were supposed lead workshops here in Israel, but at the last minute backed out for this reason.

  3. Hello, as a yoga practitioner and human rights defender, I like the notion of 'balance' – however, the situtaton visa vis occupation, blockade, apartheid and lock-down is so unbalanced as to be completely unsustainable in yoga terms or human rights terms. Would you have held a yoga retreat in the Warsaw Ghetto? At Sharpville or Soweto? Sometimes you just have to speak up against injustice as well as practice yoga.

  4. If anyone actually read "Little House on the Prairie", they would know that that is exactly what happened to the Ingalls family. They were marched off at gunpoint by the US Army because the land under their feet was still Indian Territory. As Pa Ingalls said, "Strictly speaking, we had no right to be there." Many people see parallels with the Israeli treatment of the Palestinians and the US genocidal wars against Native Americans. But this is the 21st century and we should do things differently here. Settlers who accepted subsidies to move onto Palestinian lands would mostly be glad to move back to Israeli communities if offered comparable subsidies. Only a vocal few are fanatics.

  5. To Kiore and Diane.
    You are commenting on a zionist website. Therefore, you run the risk of spiritual contamination, known as najas in Farsi and Arabic. Please go to more wholesome websites, like that of the Syrian government, Stormfront, and Holocaust denial websites.

  6. Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jewish People. It seems that you are opposed to that, and to the existence of the nation state of the Jewish People (which, since you do not seem to be opposed to Libyan, Pakistani, or Uruguayan nationalism, or any other nationalism or liberation movement, puts your position, like it or not, squarely within the parameters of the definition of anti-Semitism designated by the E.U. – "Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor." http://www.european-forum-on-antisemitism.org/working-definition-of-antisemitism/english/).

    This raises several questions:

    1) Why?
    2) Who is "oppressed", and, SPECIFICALLY how?
    3) What change do wish to see effected?
    4) Why are you not equally as vexed by much more egregious oppression, in so many other countries (e.g Tibet?)

  7. Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jewish People. It seems that you are opposed to that, and to the existence of the nation state of the Jewish People (which, since you do not seem to be opposed to Libyan, Pakistani, or Uruguayan nationalism, or any other nationalism or liberation movement, puts your position, like it or not, squarely within the parameters of the definition of anti-Semitism designated by the E.U. – "Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor." http://www.european-forum-on-antisemitism.org/working-definition-of-antisemitism/english/).

    This raises several questions:

    1) Why?
    2) Who is "oppressed", and, SPECIFICALLY how?
    3) What change do wish to see effected?
    4) Why are you not equally as vexed by much more egregious oppression, in so many other countries (e.g Tibet?)

  8. WOW, THE YOGA POSITIONS HAVE REVERSED YOU BRAINS! WHAT APARTHIED, WHAT GHETTO? DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT YOU PEACE LOVING FOOL? ARABS ARE BEING SLAUGHTERED BY THEIR BRETHEREN YET I HEAR BO BDS MOVEMENT FOR SYRIAN FRUIT LEATHERS.

  9. The injustice is in the failure of the Arab countries even to recognize Israel or assist in the process of resettling the Arab refugees. By continuing to attack Israel and by using the so-called "Palestinians" (actually Arabs who should be part of Jordan, supposedly created out of territory originally designated to be part of Israel so that there would be a "Palestinian" state, or some other Arab country) as a human weapon against Israel, Israel's neighbors have created the entire problem. Recognize Israel, stop bombing Israel and gratuitously killing and maiming Israelis, and there will be no further problems. Boycott the Muslim countries which typically do not even allow other relgions to exist and who are now busily killing off their Christians now that they have either killed or expelled all of their Jews.

  10. Kiore Ma Remind me when did judea(you know the land where the jewish people came from) become home to the "palestinain" people? aren't they Arabs? when did Palestine exist? dont they come from Arabia? how can you steal something that was granted to you?

  11. Judging by both the company they keep and their own words, bea Dewing and Kiore Ma are both hardcore Stalinist antisemites, Jew-hating racist bigots. Dewing does not even accept Israel's very right to exist – she calls Israel "Palestine". Pure Nazi filth. Both of them.

  12. By not actively protesting the Chagos Island ultra-atrocity her gov't gladly and livingly committed less than 10 years ago together wih America – among other British-implenmented abominations, D. Langford is not only a colossal hypocrit and ignorant liar, but a staunch defender of genocidal ethnic cleansing comitted by her own British government and and a party to this all. She is a lowlife despicable Jew-hating antisemitic moron in my well-based opinion.

  13. By not actively protesting the Chagos Island ultra-atrocity her gov't gladly and livingly committed less than 10 years ago together wih America – among other British-implenmented abominations, D. Langford is not only a colossal hypocrit and ignorant liar, but a staunch defender of genocidal ethnic cleansing comitted by her own British government and and a party to this all. She is a lowlife despicable Jew-hating antisemitic moron in my well-based opinion.

  14. By not actively protesting the Chagos Island ultra-atrocity her gov't gladly and livingly committed less than 10 years ago together wih America – among other British-implenmented abominations, D. Langford is not only a colossal hypocrit and ignorant liar, but a staunch defender of genocidal ethnic cleansing comitted by her own British government and and a party to this all. She is a lowlife despicable Jew-hating antisemitic moron in my well-based opinion.

  15. By not actively protesting the Chagos Island ultra-atrocity her gov't gladly and livingly committed less than 10 years ago together wih America – among other British-implenmented abominations, D. Langford is not only a colossal hypocrit and ignorant liar, but a staunch defender of genocidal ethnic cleansing comitted by her own British government and and a party to this all. She is a lowlife despicable Jew-hating antisemitic moron in my well-based opinion.

  16. To Diane.
    You are commenting on a zionist website. Therefore, you run the risk of spiritual contamination, known as najas in Farsi and Arabic. Please go to more wholesome websites, like that of the Syrian government, Stormfront, and Holocaust denial websites.

  17. To Diane.
    You are commenting on a zionist website. Therefore, you run the risk of spiritual contamination, known as najas in Farsi and Arabic. Please go to more wholesome websites, like that of the Syrian government, Stormfront, and Holocaust denial websites.

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