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She Almost Killed the Rabbi This Morning

Early this morning, I lay with arms and legs splayed out across the floor and thought to myself, “I think I’m gonna die. Right here; right now.”

Holy yoga, rabbi. What were you doing?

Just that, Holy Yoga with the Rabbi, Congregation Or Ami’s monthly morning yoga, led by master instructor and congregant Julie Buckley. My teachers in the Institute for Jewish Spirituality encouraged us to deepen our yoga practice by bringing yoga into the synagogue.  So we did. 

Recently I have let my yoga practice slip – “be forgiving,” I tell myself – but the return to yoga this week was refreshing and wonderfully exhausting. Yet under Julie’s guidance, I realigned my body, and stretched my back, legs and hips. It was challenging for me (though the group was filled with yoga novices to yoga mavens) but rewarding. 

Why is a synagogue hosting a yoga group and why is the rabbi allocating time to participate?

With the exception of that momentary death wish (“kill me now so I can be finished”), the hour and a half is centering and mindful. During yoga, I feel at one with my breath, the nefesh chaya, breathed into me by the Holy One. I feel whole, filled with shalom, shleimut. Is this not what is meant when we sing the Shema? Adonai Echad, we sing, God is one… God is the oneness, the Unity that connects us all.

For those of you who do yoga, is it spiritual for you? How is the experience Jewish?

2 comments

  1. Marcy Cameron says:

    I love being toe-2-toe with my spiritual leader! Yoga forces me to just breathe and in breathing I connect to a force that is bigger than me. =^..^=

  2. Julie says:

    I believe that yoga is, by design, a spiritual practice. The union of body, mind, and spirit is not merely an exercise regime. While there are undoubtedly physical benefits to yoga, the peace, the ease in which we can dwell is nearly addictive! Who knew SILENCE could be such a love?? Who knew that a quiet form of ecstasy could grow out of alignment… alignment as congruency of intention and action.
    A yoga practice invites us to be strong and soft, to be active and receptive, to grow deeply– in our roots as well as our canopy–reaching, inspired while humbly living between earth and sky.
    I find that while the asanas (poses) strengthen my body, keeping "clean" if you will the vessel, sourcing breath, exploring its range, its texture, its endless realm brings me closer to HaShem, closer to holiness, closer to Light, closer to my song, closer to the moment, farther from my notions of how things ought to be and nearer to the glory of how they are. God's work is so beyond me… my ego wants so much and at closer examination, it is often less than what is an inhale and exhale away.
    My breath takes me to the magnificence of God inside of my modest yoga practice… my home… my life.

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