August 19, 2011
Kosher Sutra: EAT LOVE PRAY (Ekev)
Kosher Sutra: EAT LOVE PRAY
Kosher Sutra: ‘Eat, be satisfied and bless…’ (Deut 8:10)
To almost everyone’s surprise, praying has come back into fashion. It’s called different things because praying is no longer a phrase in vogue, but whether you call it ‘manifesting the universe’, ‘setting an intention’, ‘submitting to a Higher Power’, it’s all pretty much the same thing.
A key element of yoga practice is gratitude, and that is the essence of our kosher sutra. To appreciate the food we have had and to say thank you for it. But that is not enough. The key element is that we enjoy it. ‘V’savata’ says Deuteronomy. ‘And you shall be satisfied’. We actually have to be happy. What a total drag.
The yoga teacher Aadhil Palkhivala, one of Iyengar’s senior teachers and the founder of Purna Yoga, focuses on the attitude of bliss in his book Fire of Love, where he focuses on the ‘inner smile’:
“.. illness is a function of the loss of the inner smile… hidden deep within the veiled recesses of the Heart Center is a smile that emerges from a sense of connectedness with all things. This unifying feeling is true love, far removed from the physical…Bliss is the connection with the heart, and is not to be confused with excitement. Most of us equate bliss with a thrill, and that is part of the problem. Bliss is a calm inner state, the manifestation of inner connectedness, while excitement is merely a passing fever” (Fire of Love p201-202).
When we find this satisfaction, we automatically lift ourselves to a higher place. A few lines on from our Kosher Sutra is a caution lest we miss out the vital element of saying thank you: ‘then your heart will be lifted up and you will forget God….’(Deut 8:14), and we find ourselves in a place of arrogance. There is a difference between opening our heart centre, our heart chakra, the place the Kabbalists called Tiferet, and becoming arrogant. In most yoga asanas (postures) we are aiming to open and lift our heart, but to do so in a spirit of gratitude and humility.
There is a famous Talmud imploring us to enjoy the world around us, and saying that if we get to heaven and we haven’t enjoyed our world, we will be asked why.
So what are you waiting for? Go and have a good weekend already. Just don’t forget to say thank you.
Variation: Sit on a bolster or evenly-folded blanket to make the knee bend easier, take hold of a strap between your hands.
Marcus J Freed is president of the Jewish Yoga Network and creator of Bibliyoga. He is teaching next week in Los Angeles for the Ultimate Yoga Day - An Experience for the Body & Soul on Sunday 28th August. Check out the line-up and booking details here: