“Wrestling with Yoga: Journey of a Jewish Soul” by Shelly Dembe (Health Springs Media 2015).
Many Jews are drawn to the yoga mat and many struggle to reconcile their faith with the new practice. Perhaps the most common question I have been asked during the last 15 years of teaching runs along the lines of; “isn’t yoga a form idol-worship?”. In Wrestling with Yoga: Journey of A Jewish Soul, Shelly Dembe valiantly recounts her tale of finding harmony between two sometimes-seeming opposites.
The book is easy to absorb and reads like a friendly travelogue through the author’s journey. There is a practical organisation to the book, working through highlights of the Jewish calendar and yogic philosophy, ranging from Shabbat and Festivals to the Yamas and Niyamas:
“A resurgence of Jewish meditation has entered the realm of Jewish practice in a wide variety of flavors” explains Dembe in her chapter on The Niyamas. “Entering into a meditation practice can greatly heighten a Jew’s ability to pray with kavanah [intention/focus]. However, it is difficult to sit long enough to meditate if one is uncomfortable physically. A physical yoga program or exercise may be necessary to prepare the body for inner reflection”.
Dembe gently presents ideas and teachings which speak to her and helped along her path, with the hope that this will in turn inspire other students.
Above all, this book has a feeling of great warmth, conveying the sense that Shelly Dembe is a teacher who cares deeply and has a heart full of love.
Marcus J Freed is author of The Kosher Sutras: the Jewish Way in Yoga Meditation & The Kabbalah Sutras: 49 Steps to Enlightenment. Available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Marcus-J-Freed/e/B00JAJ9FDK/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1