TGIF Torah Yoga

"Stretching our bodies and souls"

Holy time.  Holy space. Holy work.

In by Judy Schindler

Holy time.  Holy space. Holy work.

We know about holy time. We love time to get away from the craziness of our lives. Shabbat is a time to stop, to breathe, to celebrate what we have. It is a time to connect with ourselves, our community, and perhaps even with God.

We know about holy space – our sanctuaries and our homes are both sacred centers in Judaism.  As part of Torah Yoga, we come to this holy space to celebrate holy time and to celebrate ourselves.

We know about holy time and holy space. We know less about holy work.  Yet the book of Leviticus is filled with a description of it. It tells us when to offer sacrifices, where to offer sacrifices, and how to offer sacrifices. According to Webster’s, to sacrifice is to surrender something for the sake of something else. As we engage in Yoga, we think about sacrifice. For whom do we sacrifice? For what do we sacrifice? Are the sacrifices we are making serving a greater goal or are they empty?

Like the holy work of the ancient temple, yoga requires sacrifice. It requires getting up early and bringing our bodies and souls to this place. It requires patience in allowing our bodies to grow more flexible each week. It requires pushing our bodies at times and confronting challenges so that we can arrive to a stronger place and space in our lives. So much of our lives is about making sacrifices – of giving something up to achieve something greater. “To be great,” it is said, “you must be willing at any moment to sacrifice what you are for what you will become”

This week’s text from Torah offers many powerful lessons surrounding the ancient art of sacrifice. In Leviticus, our sacrifices are open to all – to the rich and the poor. If you had means you offered a goat, if you were limited you presented to God a pigeon. Our tradition teaches that even if you have nothing, you can always give of yourself. People bring what they are able.

Similarly, in yoga, we each bring what we are able – our flexibility, our experiences, our willingness to stretch ourselves farther. In Leviticus, our offerings need to be without blemish. They need to be as perfect as we can make them.  Similarly in yoga we bring our best selves to this place and celebrate who we are.

“True love is sacrifice,” the spiritual leader Vaswani taught. “It is in giving, not in getting; in losing, not in gaining; in realizing, not in possessing, that we love.”

Generously funded by the Lenora Stein Community Creative Learning Grant.