ShalOM – The Practice of Jewish Yoga
I am writing this piece because I am exploring my spirituality, and yoga has been a powerful tool for me to discover stillness and intention. My connection to my Judaism is very important to me and I am interested in investigating an integration of the two. I began exploring a potential synthesis about a year ago and have slowly been able to join these two incredibly spiritual practices. In a discussion at the Hazon Jewish Food Conference many questions came up and were discussed: How can we bring Judaism into our Yoga practice? Is their any connection there? Does it mean anything? Do we want to explore it? What can we do as like-minded Jews and Yogis, both as individuals and collectively? While no definitive answers came from this discussion, a seed was planted for me to start something in Boulder.
I started a Jewish Yoga group, where Jewish Yoga teachers and practicing Jews and Yogis could meet and talk about the parallels and connections. There was talk of bringing sun salutations into prayer, comparison of the chakras and the sefirot, and the similarities between the Yamas and the Niyamas, the observances and restrictions, and the Commandments. We also discussed the importance of having your own practice in both in order to be able to mesh the two. I was speaking with someone about the conversation a few days later and some interesting thoughts came up. She said that she believed that the tenets of Judaism are to teach one to be a positive force in the world, while she believed a deep yoga practice teaches one to turn inward, pratyahara, and focusing on the inner self that can lead to withdrawal from society. I believe there are aesthetics in all walks of life and that the yoga and the Judaism of the past is not the yoga or Judaism of today. Each is evolving and changing in order to help people find meaning and balance in their lives. There are tools in both to help individuals work on themselves and be a positive force in the community and the world.
I taught a Jewish Yoga and Meditation class to all girls at Hebrew High last year and will again this coming semester, and have also taught sessions at the Teva conference in New York as well as at Limmud Colorado. I am excited to announce that I will start teaching a donation-based Jewish Yoga class for the community in September. I have not found a location or picked the time yet but I plan on holding them in the evening on a weekly basis.
I will send out an announcement when I have more details, or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will add you to the list.
Blessings, ShalOM, and Namaste,