A day of yoga, Kabbalah, networking and music kicked off formation of the Jewish Yoga Network, an L.A.-based organization of American Jewish yoga teachers, Aug. 28 2011 in Los Angeles.

Co-sponsored by JConnectLA, a capacity crowd filled the new Wellness Center at the Los Angeles Jewish Federation building, for what was billed as the “Ultimate Yoga Day” – vigorous yoga combined with varied Jewish spiritual experiences.

Featured teachers included JYN president Marcus J Freed, whose Bibliyoga teachings combine Iyengar-style yoga with Torah study (Freed is a teacher in residence this year with Jewlicious, which sponsored the day); and Zack Lodmer, whose Om Shalom Yoga overlays original musical adaptations of the Jewish liturgy with an Ashtanga-style practice. Freed also offered an inspirational talk based entitled ‘Soul Revival: Yoga, Kabbalah and the New Year’. The day ended with a concert featuring Seth , a powerful musician who once spent two years on the road as a guitarist accompanying Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach.

One purpose of the day was to launch the Jewish Yoga Network in the USA, and it is billed as ‘a community that brings together teachers and practitioners of yoga, where they can explore their roots in yoga and Judaism’. There are members of the network across the country, and more seminars are planned in Los Angeles and New York. Rabbi Avivah Erlick, who teaches Gentle Jewish Yoga in LA, commented that “it was thrilling to be part of the inaugural seminar. The day was exciting, the energy was positive, and I’m thrilled that we are finally building our community of Jewish yogis!”.

Attendees included rabbis, yoga teachers, and a lot of yoga fans interested in learning ways to bring Jewish spirituality into their practice. Enthusiasm for ongoing programming from the group was strong, leading to the formation of a steering committee and plans to revamp the group’s Web site, YogaMosaic.org, which lists dozens of Jewish yoga teachers around the world.