So what exactly is “Jewish Yoga” (which often also goes by other names such as Torah Yoga, Shabbat Yoga, Shalom Yoga, OmShalom Yoga, Mussar Yoga, etc.)? The Jewish religion and tradition simply doesn’t have a component that focuses mindfully on the physical body, beyond its eating and cleansing rituals. Jewish Yoga is a pathway back to unifying the great wisdom of the Torah and specifically Jewish wisdom with the body. It is yoga practice – meaning asana (postures), pranayama (breathing exercises), and meditation, just as you would do in any modern yoga studio – seen through a Jewish lens. It is yoga in a spiritual language that speaks to Jewish souls in particular (or to those souls who have a broad, unlabeled view of the universe and wish to explore a variety of traditions to deepen a universal spirituality). For religious Jews, it is a more comfortable place to come back to their bodies without fear of treading in un-kosher waters. For secular Jews, it is a comfortable bridge, through the vehicle of the body, to a specifically Jewish soul.
I have always been a seeker. Seeking led me through an upbringing in Judaism that, although loving, supportive, traditional and also spiritual, did not fully align with my own innate faith and spirituality that I always felt was beyond any label I could put on it. As a late teen and twenty-something I immersed myself in yoga, finding in it a more universal expression of my faith. In 2008 my husband took at job in the Chicago area, somewhere I had never been and was far from my loving and supportive family and network of friends. Soon after moving I met Rabbi Karyn Kedar (hyperlink http://www.karynkedar.com/), who became my Rabbi in every sense of the word. During my time in Chicago, under the guidance and coaching of Rabbi Kedar, I served as the Co-Chair for the Center for Spiritual Growth at Congregation BJBE, bringing offerings of Yoga, Meditation, Nutrition and various other modalities all taught through the Jewish lens. Under her direction I began teaching weekly Jewish Yoga classes with great success and satisfaction for both me and my students.
In 2010 Rabbi Kedar sent me to the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center for an 18-month long Jewish Yoga and Spirituality Teacher Training with Diane Bloomfield and Myriam Klotz to continue my studies, which I completed after moving back to the NY metro area in 2011.
This is a practice I am extremely passionate about and go to great lengths to bring this work to as many places as I can. I teach Jewish classes and workshops regularly primarily in the tri-state area, and regularly at Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, but would be happy to bring a retreat, workshop, or Shabbaton to your area. Visit my schedule page for upcoming events, or contact me to schedule something in your area.
Every war and every conflict
between human beings has happened
because of some disagreement about names.
It is such an unnecessary foolishness,
because just beyond the arguing
there is a long table of companionship
set and waiting for us to sit down.
What is praised is one, so the praise is one too,
many jugs being poured into a huge basin.
All religions, all this singing, one song.
The differences are just illusion and vanity.
Sunlight looks a little different
on this wall than it does on that wall
and a lot different on this other one,
but it is still one light.
We have borrowed these clothes,
these time-and-space personalities,
from a light, and when we praise,
we are pouring them back in.
"Rachel is a master teacher, in theory and practice. She communicates the inner and outer aspects of yoga, walks the talk, and is an absolute pleasure to work with as a retreat and event planner. The depth and flexibility of her offerings is of immeasurable value."
— Adam Segulah Sher,
Director of Transformative Experiences, Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT
"Rachel exudes a magical gift for helping her students feel the connective tissue between their jewish spirituality, their bodies and the sacred joy of expanding aliveness. Combining a deep intelligence for the texts of spiritual tradition and of the body, Rachel’s integrative skills are matched by her playful, uplifting style. A joy and a transformational pleasure to practice, learn and move with her!"
— Rabbi Myriam Klotz,
Director, Spirituality Initiative, HUC