Judaism & Yoga

I’ve been having a hard time of late reconciling Judaism with yoga.

In particular, the teachings of Guru Singh with Judaism.

I have a hard time putting my hands in prayer position because that reminds me of Christianity. I have a hard time bowing with my head to the ground because it just feels idolatrous and unJewish. I have an impossible time with any teaching that we are divine (I understand our being created in the image of God as meaning we can know good and evil, not that we are inherently wonderful).

So I was talking about all this last night with a rabbinics student who gave me many helpful perspectives.

Guru Singh talked last night about his digital pictures with R. Shlomo Carlebach.

I had no idea they knew each other.

I now know that Shlomo was friendly with Guru’s mentor Yogi Bhajan, who walked a similar journey to Shlomo’s.

Mimi Feigelson is like the Guru Singh of the Jews. She was mentored and ordained by Shlomo Carlebach and Guru Singh had a similar relationship with Yogi Bhajan.

Both Mimi Feigelson and Guru Singh live and teach in Pico-Robertson.

One Orthodox friend told me he wouldn’t go to Yoga West because they had idols. What were these idols? Paintings and drawings of great yogis, some with candles burning beneath them. Is that really idolatry? Another friend is a Cohen and he doesn’t want to go there because he fears meeting an attractive woman who’s either a divorcee or has had relations with a non-Jew (thus making her off-limits for him to marry).

I’ve seen a lot of Jews at Yoga West but few if any are Orthodox.

I’m told that Guru Singh teaches the same line of thought as Martin Buber ("I – thou") and Emmanuel Levinas — two Jewish thinkers with minimal influence on those who practice Judaism but who tend to be popular among Christians.

Max emails:

Luke, You shmuck. Do you even understand the mantras you are chanting in your sikh yoga class? They are all praise for krishna, and other sandnigger dieties. Those crafty rabbis were smart to keep your polluting influence out of their shuls. You (fake) dirty jew bastard. Not only do you spread lashon hora, you are an idol worshiper. Ok, have a good shabbos.

How am I supposed to understand what the mantras say? They are in sanskrit. The teachers translate them in a way that seems completely inoffensive to me. Maybe I just have a big and loving heart towards all of HaShem’s creation, even the dumb goyim.


Max replies:

Repeat this mantra 108 times, and you will get laid.

"Om Sri Lakshmi Kleem Sri Ram"

Ask your turban wearing friends about this.Tell ’em Guru Nanak gave it to you.

Perhaps we could discuss these lofty issues over a very expensive kosher meal that you pay for?

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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