by Gina Dimant of Ahava Yoga (ahavayoga.blogspot.com)
Stepping into a room of Jewish women is thrilling- it is like being in the middle of a fire works show. Every mind is so full, open and has room for more. They have been served the appetizer and main course of mysticism and growth that Judaism has to offer, and here I am, with what I feel to be dessert that their bodies can savor while their minds digest their primary form of enlightenment. How can I, or any yoga instructor, live up to this task? Darshana, the Sanskirt word for “philosophy,” literally means, “seeing.” Yoga sees the body in a certain way—an apparatus that must to be aligned and positioned to pick up a frequency of sacredness. While teaching yoga to groups of Jewish women, I am blessed to be among those who have grounded themselves in their roots of culture and the Jewish axiom in order to progress their individuality, and more so, their bodies, to the point of optimal function. The key is that they are not slaves to progress; rather, the progress, and poses, serves them.
With internalized concepts such as Tzniut, we understand the Yogis who strive to mute distraction to listen to their bodies. With Tzniut, the clothes serve the woman (or man), and in Yoga, you know the poses serve you and that your body is your souls instrument. My studio space was often filled with the music self-exploration. I have had students in some of the most intricate poses from the first practice, and with proper guidance offered, they asked for more! I had one magical Israeli woman tell me “jump on me, step on me!” because her hips were so tight, she needed more opening in double pigeon pose. She knew the work involved at opening that hip joint, as do all these students when they aim to open muscle and bone groups, knowing their on their way to being full-fledged practicing yogis. One student mastered Downward Facing Dog in just one week of practice. If muscles, bone and joints are really instruments, then I aim to score bodies in some wonderful melodies while the breath is their tone. Focusing on internality, these ladies have taken tznuit to such an internal level, its in their bones, and shows in those Adho Mukhas (downward dogs). Teaching (both co-ed and) all women’s classes is tantalizing, as the range of physical accomplishments is unbounded with these spiritually awakened souls.
OM Shanti, Shalom OM