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Shabbat Yoga for the Jewish Spirit

The one who studies the secrets of his soul and the characteristics of his body can know the things of the higher world.” – Ibn Ezra.

In recent years Shomrei Emunah has been proud to offer a monthly yoga service on Shabbat mornings – an ideal time to pause from our often hectic lives to rest, breathe, and re-center ourselves. By slowing down, we become open to experiencing our body, mind, and neshama as one.

Each session incorporates lessons from our great teachers related to the weekly Torah portion, the latest holiday, a relevant prayer, or an important Jewish value.

“Shabbat Yoga for the Jewish Spirit” began when Shelley Levine, a yoga teacher and Shomrei member, found herself struggling to reconcile certain Buddhist and Hindu elements of yoga with what she calls her hard-wired Jewish self.

“I was extremely fortunate to learn that others were grappling with the same issues,” Shelley says. She soon enrolled in an 18-month training institute on yoga and Jewish spirituality at the Elat Chayyim Center for Jewish Spirituality in Falls Village, Conn.

“It was through this program that I learned that our great rabbis and interpreters of Torah viewed the body, the breath, and the neshama – the soul – as gateways to the divine,” she says.

Judaism is replete with writings and practices concerning what can be called embodied spirituality, Shelley says. Her teacher at Elat Chayyim, Myriam Klotz, has called yoga “a tool that helps us to experience consciously the insight of Job, that ‘from my flesh I know God.’ ”

And the word “to pray” in Hebrew, l’hitpalel, is reflexive, Shelley notes – so we pray into ourselves, to better understand our true selves. We do this in order to find our center. And from this base, we may move outward into the world to perform mitzvot and tikkun olam.

Here at Shomrei, as participants move through yoga poses, they gradually become aware of the integration of body and mind, and of the surprising experience of being present. And they begin to reach outside of themselves and beyond, toward the divine.

Sessions are held from 10 to 11:15 a.m. on scheduled Saturdays. Check the calendar for the next scheduled date.

All are welcome, whether advanced yoga practitioners or first-timers.

Information: Shelley Levine, shellevine@gmail.com