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September 25, 2016 / 22 Elul, 5776
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Is Yoga Kosher?

Islamic yoga objections are more worrisome as the proponents of yoga in Muslim lands try to "avoid a fatwa."
Avraham and Rachel Kolberg at their yoga institute in Ramat Beit Shemesh.

Avraham and Rachel Kolberg at their yoga institute in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
Photo Credit: beitshemeshyoga.com

She says she makes small adjustments to yoga where she feels there is a conflict with Judaism. She never attends or holds a class on the holy day, Saturday, and she prefers classes without the chanting of mantras.

Eugene recently ran a Day of Jewish Yoga, which explored ways of combining yoga with Judaism. One of the sessions combined yoga with practices to help participants reach kavanah, the meditative mind-set seen as an essential for Jewish prayer and rituals.

On her website, a testimonial from Rabbi David Rosen, the former chief rabbi of Ireland, says yoga offers “much blessing and enlightenment” and arguably helps “recapture Jewish wisdom and practice which may have been lost”.

Bottom line: Is yoga kosher?

I practiced yoga for several years under the guidance of Bonnie West, a wonderful American teacher in Minneapolis. I increases my flexibility and balance through the poses and learned to settle my consciousness through its meditations. I derived great benefits from practicins yoga. And I never once felt any conflict between my yoga and my Judaism.

Yes, yoga is kosher for me. Your experiences may vary depending on who you are and where you are coming from, as the BBC article deftly suggests.

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Tzvee Zahavy

About the Author: Tzvee Zahavy is a triathlon swimmer, a competitive golfer, a prolific author of books on Judaism, a prize-winning professor with a PhD from Brown University, a compassionate rabbi with semicha from Yeshiva University, and a fun guy.

The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.

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