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Let me begin here by saying that my respect for another’s politics, religion or belief system runs deep. I believe that we need a higher source to rely on to find comfort, peace and light, and far be it for me to suggest that one way is better than another.
Me? I was raised in a traditional Jewish family and can occasionally be found in Temple. (“Ma, if you’re reading this up there, I’m sorry that I haven’t been there in over a year but next Friday night, I promise I’m going.”)
I seldom discuss religion, or for that matter politics with friends, and I never discuss the two with students and clients. It’s really none of my business, and if I did choose to discuss these things with friends, students and clients, they would no longer be my friends, students or clients.
This brings us to:
Excuse #3: My religion does not permit me to practice yoga.
More than occasionally someone will say to me, “My faith/religion does not allow me to do yoga,” or “I’m uncomfortable going to a yoga class because of the religious connotations,” to which I say nothing. That’s a sticky one. Far be it for me to sway, coerce or convert.
As a friend, teacher and therapist, my wish for my friends, students and clients is for them to find peace, joy and laughter.
I’ve been a student of yoga for thirty years and haven’t once felt compromised – but that’s me. When I’m in a yoga class, I’m not thinkin’ religion, I’m thinkin’ mind-body connection and sculpted abs, butt and thighs – but again, that’s me.
My yoga class is a time for self-reflection, and connection to “the bigger picture,” the universe, or why that sperm hit that egg at the precise moment to make me! Why think about such things? Well, when I think large, I no longer sweat the small stuff. It’s how I use my yoga practice.
At my yoga studio, everyone who attends classes knows that they’re welcome, no matter what size, shape, shade or faith they may be. Often, during savasana, at the end of a sometimes vigorous workout comes emotional release, laughter, tears and sighs. A religious experience? Maybe, maybe not. What is certain though, is that a quiet connection has been made. A connection that might not have happened otherwise, which brings you closer to yourself than you may have been in a long time – a connection that opens the mind and the heart.
I love to tell my students as they prepare to leave class that when they feel filled to the brim with the love and the light they’d experienced during class, its perfectly okay to let some ooze out and infiltrate a friend, relative or even an upset stranger. What prophet was it who said, “All we need is love, love...love is all we need?”