Aleph-Bet Yoga: Embodying the Hebrew Letters for Physical and Spiritual Well-Being(2002) Steven Rapp. ISBN-10: 1580231624
Torah Yoga: Experiencing Jewish Wisdom Through Classic Postures (Arthur Kurzweil Books)(2004) Diane Bloomfield. ISBN – 10: 0787970573
Welcome back! If you missed the first part of the review last week, you may find it here.
Words of wisdom
“Yoga was given for the human race, not the Hindus… [It] is for the culturing of self and that self-culture has no barriers.” (B.K.S. Iyengar) We often get caught up in the beliefs that our culture is right and that one is wrong – or that we hold a ‘moral imperative’ over another through our faith and religious practices. Historically, it is a lesson that as a species we never seem to absorb. In Torah Yoga, Diane Bloomfield seeks to dissolve the barriers between the practice of Yoga and the Jewish faith while providing clear and easily understood Asana instruction. Instructors will also benefit from Bloomfield’s methodical approach as she lays out her lesson plan in detail while approaching her seven topics for reflection thoroughly.
Torah Yoga opens student and teacher alike to both the wisdom of the Torah (the first five books of Hebrew scripture) and the wisdom of Yoga. Each chapter opens with a central Jewish spiritual concept which Bloomfield explains in language that allows practitioners of all faiths to benefit. The reader is then guided through a meditation and a set of fundamental Iyengar Yoga postures, illustrated by beautiful photographs. Torah Yoga provides both beginning and advanced Yoga students with the opportunity to actualize and experience the wisdom of the Torah while heightening awareness of mind, body and spirit.
Different words…same meaning
The Jewish practice of laying on Tefillin for morning prayers involves at its core the uniting of head, heart and hands. The deeper meaning behind this practice is echoed in Yoga as well. The unification of mind, body and spirit to bring about a return to truth, peace and harmony with each other and our environment is a central tenet of Yoga practice and is found universally throughout the world’s religions. Torah Yoga is a must read book for anyone wishing to expand their horizons and apply the integrated wisdom of both Yoga and Jewish mysticism to their own path.
Diane Bloomfield first studied Kripalu Yoga and yoga teacher training at the Kripalu Institute in Massachusetts. She then practiced Bikram yoga for over a decade, and became a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapist, certified by Michael Lee. Bloomfield is now a certified Iyengar yoga instructor and continues studying and teaching with senior Iyengar instructors in both the USA and Israel.
A little more…
Members of the Jewish community in the United States alone exceed five million. For instructors both new and experienced, the economic downturn we are still feeling the effects of has surely impacted your own business as well. It is my hope that these books may inspire you to ‘think outside the box’ when it comes to opportunities you may be missing. As previously mentioned, this could be a new beginner class offering targeted specifically to the Jewish community, or something else entirely.
The true joy in Yoga has so many levels to discuss, but I want to briefly touch on only one as it is especially relevant here: The Joy of Awareness. Your Yoga practice is melding your mind, body and spirit into one whole person, where each aspect of yourself may work in harmony and balance towards whatever ends you wish. You are gaining awareness of your-self, your body and your eternal spirit. All of this is preparation; however, as ultimately you will turn this new found awareness and harmony of self out to the world around you. Don’t wait! Our opportunities, business ventures, new ideas and growth on Life’s Journey begin to appear more and more frequently as your Yoga practice flowers.
Water this flower with an open mind, actively look with your mind, body and spirit at the world around you. Just as the sun, soil and rains care for all of nature’s children, you journey this path surrounded by everything you need to find fulfillment, peace and success in your life. The key is to look with open eyes, filled with wonder at the possibilities that lay ahead. Replace rigid beliefs with open acceptance – try these books, try others too – see the beauty, underlying wisdom and common truths contained within Aleph-Bet Yoga and Torah Yoga for yourself.
Namaste…And Happy New Year!