Yoga instructor teaches art of happiness in war-torn Syria

At a time when millions of people are leaving Syria looking for safer places, 58-year-old Youssef Majed, an instructor with the Art of Living (AoL), is going around the war-ravaged nation teaching peo

Published: 29th July 2017 10:36 PM  |   Last Updated: 30th July 2017 11:03 AM   |  A+A-

BENGALURU: At a time when millions of people are leaving Syria looking for safer places, 58-year-old Youssef Majed, an instructor with the Art of Living (AoL), is going around the war-ravaged nation teaching people yoga and meditation.

With the hope of making a positive change in the lives of people affected by war, Majed, a carpenter from Beirut, Lebanon, has been conducting happiness courses in several parts of Syria. His mission to spread happiness started after he met Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of AoL and personally experienced change that yoga brought in his life.

“Yoga and Sudarshan Kriya, a breathing technique, can transform lives,” says Majed, who has trained 300 people over the last few years.

During a civil war in Lebanon, Youssef Majed, then 17, had sustained a bullet injury in his head, resulting in loss of mobility in his legs. Even now, he needs some help to move around. That, however, has not stopped him from visiting villages in Syria to conduct training programmes.

“People are depressed and are full of negative thoughts. Meditation and practicing breathing techniques are making a lot of difference. It helps them accept the situation and start thinking positively,” says Majed. Ask him about the risk he is taking by venturing into unsafe places and he says, “Smiles on the faces of people who are benefited by the programme is all that matters to me. There is no risk.”

The ongoing war between the ISIS, a terror group that is fighting for an Islamic state, and the Syrian government has devastated many cities and towns in that country. “What they (ISIS) are doing in the name of Islam is not correct. It is insane. They have destroyed culture and monuments,’’ says Majed.
His daughter May Majed, a Special Educator, who lives with her father in Beirut, helps him in his mission to bring happiness among people in trouble-torn regions.

‘Only yoga, meditation can bring peace’
Christian Matta, an instructor who works with AoL and International Association For Human Values (IAHV), says yoga is the only way to bring peace in the region. He has been conducting courses for youth in Jordan and Lebanon since 2002. “Practicing yoga and breathing techniques help manage stress. Apart from other benefits, the youth will be less prone to taking to violence,’’ he added.

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