When we do sport together, we are a family. We share values and goals. What’s important is the community, the team work, the striving. 

Run For Life

Running is in everyone, we are all able to run. You just have to put one foot in front of the other, over and over again. Running is mental training, it builds resistance, endurance and agility, it helps you to think freely and order your thoughts. That is why we run, all together, as a team.

Yoga and Sports with Refugees offers a complete running schedule, including interval training, mountain runs, road runs, stadium training and the weekly long run on Saturday. The training always consists of a combination of exercises and running. We try to make the running training accessible for all different levels of running, from the very beginner to a 2:47 marathon runner (One of our runners in the Athens Marathon 2019!).

We compete in all the local running races and use these races to show the strength, passion and motivation of our runners to the local community and to interact with them. Besides this, the races are incredible for building team spirit and self-confidence and for offering a distraction from the time in the camp. In 2019 our team also competed in the Athens marathon with great results!



100% of refugees reached Lesvos by sea from Turkey in extremely dangerous conditions. Most do not know how to swim and many are seriously traumatized by deep water. YSR helps men, boys, women and girls reconcile with the sea and learn how to swim. Our amazing swimming coach from Iran teaches swimming with the help of international volunteers, always under the watchful eye of a lifeguard. In addition, swimmers can also enjoy leisure activities on Kara Tepe Beach. They can just have fun.


Yoga and Sport is a loving and inspiring community. I volunteered at YSR for a month with my husband and two girls in October of 2018. The memories will last a life time.

-Jane Odiseos, Volunteer 2018

Team Sports

All team sports require values that are fundamental. Team sports are a very effective tool in integrating different cultures with the same objective, practicing the same sport together. From teamwork, sharing space and an activity it is much easier to create community and the feeling of belonging to a group. This is an essential feeling in the situation experienced during the asylum process on the island.

 Our volleyball team has found the perfect balance between seriousness in training and fun to enjoy the time together. The team is made up of 16 players with a more than considerable level, and is led by our amazing community coach! However, the team is always ready to welcome new members, regardless of the level they present the most important is the attitude!

The basketball activity is open to everyone, we can’t say that there is a consolidated team. But thanks to this we can say that we have found the perfect tool to introduce everyone to the world of sport, where the most important thing is neither technique nor competitiveness. It’s simply about everyone having a good time together and not letting their bodies rust. It has become one of the activities where we can find more cultural diversity, and where men and women share spaces to enjoy sport together.

As one of the most popular sports in the world, football is one of the most successful activities we have. Our team consists of 20 players. They all share a passion for the sport and a desire to keep improving as players and as a team. The fact that we are a consolidated group does not exclude them from welcoming all those who want to be part of the team! They train 3 times a week with a passion and commitment that makes all of them an example of rigor and commitment!



Our yoga program seeks to calm down emotionally and mentally overwhelmed refugees by brightening daily life and distracting participants from negative thoughts. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a major cause of psychological strain and waiting for a therapist can take months. Yoga provides a welcome island of peace. Yoga at YSR introduces strangers to each other and creates community which often reaches back into the camps. Yoga helps develop self-knowledge and self-awareness, positive thinking and mindfulness, all of which ease stress and begin to build a safe home from within.


Martial Arts & the Gym

Martial arts have become one of the most important projects for us, being one of the activities with the highest number of participants. Everyday a lot of people participate; asylum seekers as well as volunteers. All the teachers responsible for carrying out the martial arts are asylum seekers living on Lesvos who have experience in this field. Contact sports are very important in the countries of origin of many asylum seekers and they practiced them before arriving in Europe. This allows them to resume an activity that they developed in their routine prior to their escape to survive.

YSR understands that recovering those activities in which everyone can feel comfortable helps asylum seekers not to perceive everything on the island as a 180 degree change. We want to practice together sports that we like, and martial arts represents a form of consecration of the soul and the body where sobriety and self-control are essential. These activities are translated into a great deal of benefits both physically and psychologically: it helps to canalize the energy, anger and tension; it motivates discipline and emotional management; and above all it is a way to calm down and find peace from the respect of peers and coaches.

Some martial arts that we do are: Wrestling, Kickboxing, Karate and Muay Thai.

Our coaches are often professional athletes who are ready to step on the tatami or in the ring. As an example, Majid Ahmadi, our former Muay Thai coach, has participated and won a professional fight in Athens in March 2020 with his Greek club: White Tiger Muay Thai Training Camp.


Sport for Women

Women, being subjected to discrimination in all cultures are one of the most vulnerable groups in refugee camps and that is why we try to promote exclusive activities, designed for them; for their needs, enjoyment and development. It is important to create a safe space where we can all relax together, trust each other, share and have fun creating the community that allows us the universal language of sport. Therefore, we offer activities such as: yoga, self-defense, zumba, hip-hop, fitness, kick-boxing or swimming. We create a space where we can afford to leave aside the roles that society imposes on us.



Dance is a tool for expression, communication and inspiration on many levels. Not only is it a complete sport that allows us to put the whole body in motion, but it also allows us to feel accompanied by different music and to channel what we feel. Music and dance, present in all cultures, that we find ourselves dancing to allow us to build community through movement and allow us to be one and all through our similarities and our differences.

It is a vitally important activity as it allows us to offer the benefits of maintaining an active life to a group that may not feel an attraction to sports in general.


Yoga and Sports with Refugees does incredible work! The organization uses sports to help people find mental and physical strength in extremely difficult times. They facilitate programs and support athletes in all different types of sports. But truthfully, YSR is so much more than that. It’s a safe community, a place to belong, a place to find dignity, and meaning in difficult times. I am deeply inspired and impressed.

-Hilde Honerud, Non-Executive Board Member

Will you change a life today?

As long as poverty, injustice and inequality exist, we can not rest. It isn’t difficult to make a change. Take action and make the difference today.