By Reisha Golden
The more I read the more I see how the relationships are endless. I will try and share with you my journey and give you ideas to bring into your yoga classes.
Yoga means bringing together or Unity – how does this relate to Judaism? In Judaism unity is translated into Yichud or Yechidah – the bringing together of that which is transcendent (beyond time and space) into that which is immanent (within time and space). In yoga, the unity we refer to is mind – body connection, or soul-body connection.
We just began our New Year. With the New Year, we went through a period of Teshuvah or return or repentence, or looking for answers to our deeper selves. I see Teshuvah as a time to return to the soul, to who we are at our deepest level. I took this time to look at my life and to throw out what is not true to me and to keep or find what rings true to my deepest self. Teshuvah has the same root as Shabbat. This was my yearly Shabbat of resting and returning.
Yom Kippur or the Day of AtOneMent brings us to another level of the soul; the highest level, where we sense the Unity in creation – the level of Yechidah – Oneness. And how do we achieve this Oneness? Yom Kippur is considered the Shabbat of Shabbatot, yet we don’t eat or drink. On Yom Kippur, we fast and therefore we are asked to nurture ourselves spiritually. We come ready on Yom Kippur: we have done our work of Teshuvah and mended our relationships with ourselves, with our friends and family, and with our community to the best of our ability. On Yom Kippur we ask God for guidance on how to maintain that sense of Oneness we have worked towards in ourselves and with others. On Yom Kippur we acknowledge our co-partnership with God in achieving our goals, we experience our interdependence and the unity of creation.
In yoga we refer to our energy centers as chakras. In Judaism, we have the sefirot based on the Tree of Life. Succot or the Festival of Booths is about experiencing the Divine presence on Earth. The Israelites traveled through the desert with clouds of God’s glory surrounding them. The clouds represent God’s presence on Earth or the Shekhina. Today we build a Succah. The sefira of Malchut (kingdom) or the Root chakra can best be represented here. In Judaism we can think of the upper sefirot or the divine emanations flowing their energy into the Divine presence on Earth or Malchut. What does this mean? Let us in our temporary dwelling (our Succah) or stay on Earth (this lifetime) spend a moment to perceive God’s Oneness through noticing the wonders of the world all around us.