Marjie Bernard, Presenter of Aleph Tree Yoga and participant in Taste of Tiferet Shabbat, Qi Gong with Debbie Stringham, Jewish Meditation with Seth Castleman, Rabbi Yitzi Weiner’s classes, Rabbi Raphaela Greenstein’s aging to sageing and willing reciever of Reiki healing with Lee Aven and Susie Rosenwasser.
In Sanskrit, the word Yoga means to unite or to thread together. Yoga is therefore a means to use the breath to connect the mind to the body. In Hebrew, we say b’yachad or together, we often think of bringing the community together or to come together in worship by forming a minyan. The quality of the Tiferet center exemplifies this concept in so many ways that I see as both Jewish and universal.
Beginning with Tiferet Shabbat, we came together as a whole community immersed in sacred text and and traditional prayer. Some people utter words, sing, sway their bodies shukkeling from side to side or all of the above. My Torah Yoga teacher, Diane Bloomfield loves to quote Rav Kook who says, “There is always a prayer in our soul. The desire is for the prayer to spread out into the power of the spirit and into the entire physical body”. Yoga can be a way to experience the power of the spirit and the prayer in your soul. Of course as a presenter of Yoga, it is rewarding to see the health benefits as well. Someone is suddenly aware of their breath, another finds the simple connection of the earth beneath them in relaxation. Others feel stretched, strengthened or invigorated. It is the student at the end of the class who most inspires me. It is the one who spends most of her time at a desk or assisting others. The one who normally does not take the time for herself. The one who declares, “I really need this.” What exactly is” this” I wonder. Is it prayer in a place of worship? Could it be the classes that inspire and stimulate our minds while warming our souls on these last cold winter nights? Perhaps an artful craft is just what we need to get our creative juices flowing when we feel the grey chill in the air. What about a Jewish movement practice like Yoga that brings us to this awareness?
One of my insights to this question comes from some of the classes that I have had the opportunity to take with Rabbi Weiner who speaks often of Anava or humility. Personally the quality of Anava is teaching me to take a space but not too much. It is not only teaching me to be generous creating a space for others but to do it mindfully. I have learned so much about the importance of moderation in this quality. The essence of giving and recieving is becoming more proprtionate in my life because it. I feel so honored to not only have the opportunity to be a presenter of Tiferet but because of the quality of anavana that I continually aspire to access, I have been able to experience the pleasures, spirit, prayer and soul of all the other presenters out there and for that I am truly grateful.
Marjie Bernard has been a Jewish educator and Yoga teacher for over ten years. She is greatly influenced by the Viniyoga tradition which is a style of Yoga that adapts each posture to meet the needs of the individual. Marjie also holds a certificate in Yoga and Jewish Spirituality from the Elat Chayyim Yoga and Jewish Spirituality Institute. She teaches classes and workshops for Jewish organizations and synagogues in the greater Boston area. Marjie is delighted to share and guide others in seeking their own body’s source of wisdom and to have the opportunity to stretch and grow along side the many students she meets along the way.
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