David Sye believes that yoga can lift the Middle East out of conflict

By Candice Krieger, June 13, 2008

Yoga instructor David Sye is hoping that its power can bring peace to the Middle East. Mr Sye, the founder of Yogabeats — his own brand of yoga, driven by music and rhythms — has recently launched a Yogabeats conflict project (www.yogabeats.com).

He hopes that, by teaching his yoga method to groups of Israelis and Palestinians, he can enable them to “experience” a peaceful state of mind.  “I found that, in the midst of all the stress of war, yoga creates this complete bubble,” Mr Sye, 47, tells People. “It changes the way people feel.”

Based in Camden, North London, Mr Sye first brought Israelis and Palestinians together through yoga in 2006, when he taught a combined class of Jewish and Muslim students at the American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem. He has since returned to Israel and Jenin, in the West Bank, to repeat the initiative and is keen to keep on doing so if he can secure more funding. He has also been working closely with the Israeli Teachers Association and wants to open up his project to educators who would be willing to take yoga across the border to the Palestinians.

“I won’t teach Israelis unless I can teach Palestinians too,” he says. “Through doing yoga together, they experience peace. It becomes non-political. I am tired of yoga for just middle-class people.” He adds: “If ‘we’, as teachers, can create and support the experience that yoga brings to these people’s lives, we can only guess at the long-term effects this might have in the Middle East.”

Mr Sye started practising yoga more than 20 years ago, after, he claims, it cured him from a life-threatening illness. He also practises his techniques with troubled teenagers, drug addicts and pregnant women.

Last updated: 2:13pm, June 17 2008