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Why I Love Being a Jew (-ish Yoga Teacher)

Posted Jan 23 2012 9:03am

Good morning all!

Well, yesterday’s run didn’t go so well. Unfortunately, the stabbing pain in my side returned, so instead of a four mile run, it was a 3.37 walk/run. I did my best, and have to let go of the rest.

Today, we’re headed to the most magical place on earth – DISNEYWORLD!! YAHOO!!!

Speaking of magical…

One thing Ant and I (try really hard) to do every Friday night is celebrate Shabbat. While I am not necessarily a religious Jew (as of now, I don’t keep kosher, I do all sorts of stuff from Friday night to Saturday night that involve doing rather than being, and my attendance at synagogue is spotty at best) I absolutely love being Jewish. There is something so special to me about being part of a faith that has survived for thousands of years despite any and all odds, a culture that for the most part has stayed incredibly true to it’s traditions and beliefs, and part of a group of people whose practices, at the most observant end of the spectrum, involve thanking G-d for everything. Quite literally, Orthodox Jews wake up in the morning and Thank G-d for the fact that they woke up after sleeping. They Thank G-d for washing their hands after using the toilet. They Thank G-d for bread, for seeing a rainbow. To live in observance of the world in a way loaded with gratitude is one of the practices of Judaism that is precious to me, and one I try to cultivate in my daily life.

shabbat prep

Candles and wine...two thirds of what you need for shabbat

I haven’t been so public about my Jewish faith, even outside of the blog world. As a “liberal” and a “feminist” (I use the quotes not to belittle the worlds themselves but the fact that my identity is so tied up in them) I have found it very challenging to balance my faith with my sense of reason, and my Jewish beliefs with my even stronger beliefs that everyone everywhere has a right to marry who they want, to have children or not to have children, to be gay or straight or anything in between, and to practice the path to their highest self that works for them, even if that is to have no clear path at all.

Binna Burra path

A path less travelled. In Binna Burra, QLD

Especially as a yoga teacher, who finds so much beauty in the teachings of Patanjali and the Bhagavad Gita (and dare I say, they have actually expanded my belief in G-d?) I find it quite challenging to teach in a way that reflects but doesn’t dictate my, or any, particular faith. As I see yoga as a practice designed to get intimate with your highest self more than a way to get a cute tush, I feel a sense of responsibility to learn more about my faith before I share it with others. I know how much my teachers spiritualities have impacted me, and I would feel quite unsure about sharing my own beliefs when they have been so changeable over the years.

However, on Friday nights, that all goes out the window.

Shabbat candles

Shabbat (or watermelon votive) candles

On Friday nights, I slip out of my yoga pants and into my Jewish heart. We light candles, we drink wine, we eat (gluten-free) bread (some things can’t be exceptions, even on the holiest day of the week!) We take moments to honor the holy Shabbos day, and to thank G-d (or my favorite, most Jewish definition of that word: “Was, Is, and WIll Be”) for all that we have, and for the opportunity to relish in the beauty of the world as the world is, not what I would have the world be.

Gold Coast, QLD

Gold Coast, in Queensland

As of now, while I don’t know where my path will take me, I know that I want to bring more of my old Jewish faith back into my daily life. I’m not quite sure how that will evolve, but I know that getting closer to G-d has never made me feel anything less than more empowered, more alive, and more awake. I look forward to seeing how it develops, and getting a bit comfier and cozier with not knowing exactly what that faith looks like right now.

Question of the Day: How has your faith developed or changed over the years? How has your faith, whatever it is, impacted you in your day to day life?

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