April 2012

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seen one." Seeing the difference yoga could make in so many ways, the idea of creating a more permanent yoga community in the Middle East grew roots, and from it the Olive Tree Yoga Foundation sprouted. The mission: To promote and support the teaching of yoga in communities affected by conflict. The vision: To not only teach yoga, but to train teachers who will spread yoga throughout the areas that are hun- gry for it, easing stress and bringing yogis together along the way. The response to Goldman's message was overwhelmingly positive. So much, in fact, that Goldman found she was reluctant to return home at the end of her visit. "But I knew that I needed to do this the right way," she explains. "I needed to spend the next year building the founda- tion for what this is going to be." Since that first trip, Goldman has fo- cused on exactly that. The foundation's roots have grown deeper—supported by communities on both sides of the world and with a board that includes coordina- tors in both Israel and Palestine. Local organizations, including yoga studios, have held fundraisers and donated services and goods to fuel the nonprofit's growth. Still, even an organization with a strictly positive intention is not without oppo- nents. Goldman has received e-mails and messages ranging from warnings that she may be killed to assertions that there is no place for yoga in the Jewish community— warnings based on motives that Goldman has chosen not to explore, but that do not deter her. "The cost of ignoring what is really call- ing to me is too high a price to pay," she declares resolutely. Having experienced the transformative power of yoga in her own life, she is pas- sionate about introducing the same avenue for change to others. Today, she's busily arranging her next trip—planned for the summer of 2012. But by 2013 she hopes to establish a permanent home for yoga in the region, complete with a studio where she can teach, train local in- structors and provide a safe space for Israeli and Palestinian yogis to practice together, free of charge. No matter what the future holds, Gold- but trained instructors could not leave, nor could additional instructors enter. As she traveled, Goldman's local liaisons had arranged for her to teach—at no cost— at some of the few studios that did exist, as well as at the SOS Children's Village, where orphans are raised by foster moth- ers. The experience with these children and their caretakers was, Goldman explains, particularly eye-opening. The children had lived within these defined restrictions their entire lives. Goldman found, very quickly, that this led to basic language challenges. "I was trying to teach 'boat pose,'" Goldman elaborates, "and the children had no idea what a boat was. They had never man is certain of one thing: It will involve yoga. It doesn't matter who people are, she explains, or where they live, if they are ready to venture onto the mat, she'll be there to greet them. (KG) For more information, visit April 2012 45

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