Meet Shadan, the yogi determined to spread this mindful practice across the Arab world– so that everyone, irrespective of opportunity, can enjoy its benefits.
Can you tell us about your first yoga class? Was it in Palestine?
My first Yoga class was when I was around 5 years old with my mother at home, she had this Yoga book that she followed and my brother and I LOVED joining her. I remember my favourite posture was the head stand, I loved the energized feeling after.
What inspired you to start this project and what is the impact you hope to have?
I was inspired by the commitment and dedication that the women at Jalazon refugee camp had for their practise. One day I walked into class and the discussion was about the videos they found online and how there was nothing in Arabic (at the time they found one short video by a lebanese women who trains sports and another by a Japanese man speaking Arabic).
I then had the lightbulb moment in a meditation retreat (Vipassana) of ten days in silence. On day 6 or 7 I started having the vision of creating this with clear details on categories, reach, and benefits. I have to say it distracted me so much from meditation for a whole day because of how excited I was getting, but as soon as I got out I started planning on how to make this happen.
Shadana Yoga is setup as a for profit social enterprise– can you tell us more about this decision and the rewards that you are offering?
I wanted to create something that can be self sustainable; In Palestine and as a result of the foreign aid we started having the mentality of looking for outside funding all the time, which can be very important for some activities, but I wanted to work with a system that can provide not only financial sustainability but also be able to give back to the community.
We believe in the power of Yoga in calming the mind, and here we have two main goals: The first being able to provide a platform for people to practice yoga at home or at anytime they choose to, without having to go to a physical studio. The other being able to offer step by step coaching on how to start making healthier changes in your life, from a physical and mental perspective.
And of course we all know how important and effective it is to take decisions from a calm state of mind instead of a state of constant reaction. We want to provide the tool that allows us to start taking actions instead of reactions
Your crowdfunding campaign just reached 100%– congratulations! How has the experience been and what is something you wish you knew before you started?
Thank you! It was a bit of a roller coaster at the beginning, but also a great learning experience. I came in remembering a friend’s extremely successful campaign, but of course this is very different. I had a lot of disappointment at the beginning but then talked to other entrepreneurs from around the world; people whom I met here and people I went to university with in London and they gave me such important and great insights on how to move forward, so fingers crossed.
We now reached the goal of the campaign, but in projects like this, the more we get the more we can do. I wouldn’t say I wish I knew something specific before I started, I mean of course if I would do another campaign now I would do many things differently but I am very happy with the way things are moving, I think the right information comes at the right time.