Flexible Solutions in Nablus

Where does a TYO intern purchase yoga mats in Nablus? I don’t know, but program coordinator Chelsey had a creative idea: use the non-slip material that merchants sell for use on kitchen floors. It comes on rolls to be cut to the desired length, and it is the same thickness as a yoga mat. Mumtaz! Saturday Chelsey and I headed to the Old City in search of the material she’d seen previously hanging outside some shops. It was one of many rainy days in Nablus, so fewer alleyway goods were on display. What’s more we didn’t know the name of our product. How do you explain, “we want the rubbery foam-ish stuff you put on the floor to stop from sliding around,” in Arabic? After several unsuccessful attempts in which we were repeatedly shown an array of carpets, we came upon what were looking for: sambatik. Of course, the one place we located it was charging a rate too high for our budget (20 NIS/meter), so we returned home and decided on an alternative approach.

The next day Chelsey arranged for Yassir, the facilities manager, to escort me back to the Old City to a shop where he knew the material would be more affordable. After waiting a few Middle Eastern minutes (half an hour), Yassir and I ran through more rain back to our taxi, carrying 30 meters of sambatik. Back in the conference room-turned-yoga studio, I cut the material into 1.5 meter sections.

Khalas, the women’s fitness class was ready to begin on Monday with mats and a teacher, but were the women ready for yoga? Some of the staff warned me that the women might not consider yoga real exercise since it doesn’t involve running and jumping. From the sighs of relief after coming out of downward dog pose, though, I know that the women in the class are more aware of the physical effort yoga entails. Keep reading in the coming weeks to find out how they face that challenge!


Kara is an intern at TYO Nablus and a participant in the Kalimatna Initiative.