Monday, March 12, 2018


I attended a yoga class today.

I have not been to yoga since last spring. We are JCC members and that membership includes free group classes. I was very excited when we moved here to finally get to work out, take care of myself, get in shape, release the worries, feel healthy. But then summer came, with all the kids staying home. And then school year rolled around, with carpools and sick kids and multiple commitments and more appointments that I care to talk about. And somehow fitness slipped. My children have been enrolled in multiple JCC sports classes: swimming, gymnastics, tennis. Me? I have barely made it there to pick them up.

Then you see a psychiatrist for your child and she insists on removing him from the room and telling you that you need to manage your anxiety. You have to take care of yourself. Your husband should cook you a nice dinner and give you a break. You exit. When you are done crying about things in your life that you cannot control, people who will not change, lack of support, you think that going to a yoga class is sort of imperative. Another article floats your way and look, breathing and exercise and yoga help with anxiety. A therapist is teaching your child to take a deep breath. You so wanted to be that teacher, but despite all the directions you have pushed yourself, your air mask is not on as you are fumbling to put on your child's. This blog has been very quiet. I have not been breathing.

Today I ended up with a few hours' break in between activity drop-off and pick-up. I did not go grocery shopping or came up with a million other errands that could (should?) have been done, I headed to JCC yoga class.
Image result for yoga
Yoga is like Chabad: come as you are, no judgment. You stayed away for awhile, but we sure are glad you are back. Practice what you feel comfortable, but here is an extension if you want to push yourself further. Take a breath in, feel the warmth. You do a certain breathing pattern and a warmth grows. There is even mysticism behind it, for those so inclined. Let go of your expectations, accept your limitations. Know that many limitations are just in your mind. Do you feel good when you are done? Do you feel rejuvenated and accepting of yourself and others? Come again when you can.

I feel a little bit sad that I cannot find that kind of meaning, reach this state of mind in traditional Judaism. My prayer is shot by multiple curveballs, by too many people dying, by not understanding how I have to wait for the good in something that is so bad. (Incidentally, today is four year anniversary since a Chabad rebbitzen passed away Her legacy of Torah and Tea did not continue in my community, but I gained two friends who have moved more "intown" since her passing. It's a pathetically thin silver lining to a tragedy that her death must still be to her orphaned children.) When I was undergoing my treatment, ten years ago, something happened to my tefillah and the wide-eyed naive belief just left. It was not even cynisism, it was more like a brick wall. I get glimpses of meaningful prayer here and there, but it is rarely sustained. I felt visceral closeness to Hashem while in Israel, but there is no plan to make aliyah. I prayed sincerely and on fire this past Rosh HaShana, hoping that I finally found a shul, a rabbi and a community where I can be comfortable, pouring my heart out to Hashem over a new heartache. While the answer to the pain was a slow and hesitant "yes", the shul and the rabbi have since dropped off my list of places where I can push myself to get close to Hashem. How can I daven with kavanah when it is business as usual despite evidence and allegations that should shake most people to their moral core? How can I be told that shechinah resides over such a congregation where there is no transparency, no safety, no plan for moving forward, but just lies and sweeping everything under the rug? Unfortunately, I can enter the shul building, but I cannot connect to Hashem there.

I wanted to connect to Hashem intellectually, through learning. However, even that path remains closed. Maybe I lack commitment, maybe I need to keep on searching and prioritizing opportunities, but I know that in order to feel closeness and connection, one needs focus.

For better or for worse, yoga it is for now. I stretched, I flowed, I thought, I did.
I came out better than I went in.
I do not feel anxious now.
I can breathe.

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