Ambulance crews in the Gaza Strip gathered along the coast of the enclave to practice yoga together on International Yoga Day on Monday as part of efforts to provide psychological support for the ambulance crews, according to the Palestinian Safa news.
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Tahrir Murtaja, director of the Positive Energy Club, told Safa that yoga was used to provide psychological support and that it was new in the Gaza Strip. Some 50 ambulance crew members took part in the activity, with a focus on crew members who worked during the 11-day IDF Operation Guardian of the Walls.
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“We chose paramedics to teach yoga to because they were among the most affected groups in the latest war, especially since they were working under bombardment and psychological pressure,” said Murtaja to Al Jazeera. “They were transporting bodies which left negative effects on their psyche. It’s very important that we reinforce their positive energy through the practice of yoga.
The crewmembers underwent a variety of exercises, including proper breathing and other techniques to remove stress and psychological pressure, according to Safa.
Ambulance crewmember Hassan Hassanein told Safa that the exercise came a the “perfect time” in light of the recent conflict with Israel.
“It is a beautiful feeling to release the negative energy from our bodies that have been exhausted by the bombing and following of events in the field here and there, and a nicer feeling to meet our colleagues after great effort and fatigue while we were busy with our emergency missions,” said Hassanein to Safa.
Another crewmember, Majed al-Balbisi, 45, told Safa that “We urgently needed any effort to remove this gloomy atmosphere that we lived in, so the yoga came at the right time.”
“This sport has improved our mood and our psyche. For the first time I practiced it and I learned how very important it is for us and for those who live with a killer work routine,” added al-Balbisi.
Al-Balbisi expressed hopes that permanent activities would be organized for ambulance crewmembers to relieve stress.
Awad Abdel Bari, the yoga instructor, told Al Jazeera that ambulance crewmembers are the “most affected by difficulties.”
“We all face difficulties, but they deal with them firsthand as they absorb negative energy in order to give us the feeling of safety,” said Bari to Al Jazeera.