HOT TOPIC: Can Yoga have a place in Jewish spiritual life?
JEWISH YOGA – NOT SUCH A STRETCH
Torah Yoga is popping up everywhere. It is a relatively new phenomenon on the Jewish cultural landscape, although Diane Bloomfield published her book Torah Yoga in 2004.1 Yoga in general has seen an almost meteoric rise in popularity in America. One statistic notes that there were 14.3 million people who practiced Yoga in 2010, up from 4.3 million in 2001.2 The term “Torah Yoga” actually has been copywritten by Bloomfield, so classes are called Shalom Yoga, Shalva Yoga, Om Shalom Yoga, etc.
Although these classes vary widely, both in terms of the style of Yoga and the type of Jewish text or wisdom they incorporate, most include a combination of Jewish wisdom, meditation, and postures. In many cases, predictably, the Jewish thinkers most quoted for the content of the classes are from the mystical ranks of Jewish thought: Rav Kook, the Sfat Emet, etc., but some Torah Yoga teachers incorporate liturgy, even shaping bodies into the letters of the aleph bet.