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Torah Yoga: Experiencing Jewish Wisdom Through Classic Postures [Paperback]

Diane Bloomfield
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 8 2004 Arthur Kurzweil Books
This highly original book introduces a fascinating new approach to yoga and Torah by combining the practice of classic yoga postures with traditional and mystical Jewish wisdom. Each chapter begins by presenting a central Jewish spiritual concept that engages readers of all faiths on a personal level. It offers an in-depth exploration of the concept, quoting and commenting on sacred Jewish texts from the Pentateuch (Five Books of Moses) and other sources. It then guides its readers with mastery and clarity through a meditation and a set of fundamental yoga postures--clearly illustrated by beautiful photographs--for both beginning and advanced yoga students. The Torah concept is actualized and experienced through the practice of these postures. Torah Yoga helps to heighten awareness of body, mind, and spirit?it illuminates the heart of Jewish wisdom.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Students of Torah may never have considered yoga, just as students of yoga may never have considered Torah. Yet Bloomfield, a yoga instructor and longtime student of the Torah, seamlessly connects the two as she teaches readers how to engage body and breath while meditating on Jewish wisdom. Like any good teacher, Bloomfield carefully lays out her lesson plan and instantly engages her reader. She approaches her seven topics for reflection with a thoroughness employed by the most rigorous yeshiva student. At the same time, her posture instruction is clear and easily understood. Quoting the yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar, Bloomfield reminds us that "Yoga was given for the human race, not the Hindus... [it] is for the culturing of self and that self-culture has no barrier." She universalizes the Torah references and demonstrates a keen ability to unlock the plethora of doors found within the Hebrew language. For instance, Egypt is not only the land of ancient slavery; as she points out, with the change of a few vowels, the same Hebrew letters spell the word for "narrow straits." The center letters of the word, when paired, connote limitations and pain, yet are surrounded by letters that, when combined, spell the word for waterâ€""a symbol of unlimited possibilities... a harbinger of new life." Readers of any faith or athletic inclination should do their souls a favor and investigate this illuminating guide.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“…Hatha Yoga can enhance…spiritual practice [of other faiths] …Diane Bloomfield…has succeeded brilliantly examining this” (www.yogaandhealthmag.co.uk)

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Life Journey June 9 2004
Format:Paperback
Diane offers several suggestions for how to read her book, Torah Yoga. My choice has been to read and reread the introduction. I love Diane's emphasis on first things: the word, the breath, attending to the foundation before moving into postures and finding the origins of our life journeys.
As a midwife, I work with women and families embarking on the life journey of pregnancy. Today in the U.S., alot of technology is available to evaluate the status of pregnancy. As a guide for pregnant women, I try to encourage them to trust their own intuition and the strength of their own bodies. Diane has given me the tools to promote this concept with women.
I've had the privilege to take Torah Yoga classes with Diane, I can hear her voice when I read the explanation of postures in her book. The directions are easy to follow. Perhaps I only want to read the introduction because I don't want to come to the end of the book. But the book is a guide to a journey. Diane has given me and everyone else who reads her book the encouragement we need to become our own guides.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully written and interesting book... June 1 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Raised as a Presbyterian, a competitive swimmer, and a mathematician (order not important), I am not naturally drawn either to spiritual mysticism or yoga. This beautifully written and interesting book, however, has helped me to understand how one could be drawn to those things. My thanks to the author, who obviously cares very deeply about her subject.
Was this review helpful to you?
Format:Paperback
Bloomfield touches the depths of one's body and soul in this beautifully written guide to studying both Torah and Yoga.There is a sense of ease and comfort in her wisdom and her teachings. The Yoga postures are easy to replicate and the photos enhance the warmth of the book. Whether a novice or a master, this book will want you coming back for more...a must read for anyone who embraces and desires to expand their essence.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars YOU GOTTA BE KIDDIN' May 27 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
ANOTHER CLEVER ATTEMPT AT PROFITING THROUGH RELIGIOUS BELIEFS.
WHAT ELSE IS NEW ?? WHEN WILL IT STOP????????
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An explosive,expansive mind,body and spirt journey. May 19 2004
By R. Cohen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Bloomfield touches the depths of one's body and soul in this beautifully written guide to studying both Torah and Yoga.There is a sense of ease and comfort in her wisdom and her teachings. The Yoga postures are easy to replicate and the photos enhance the warmth of the book. Whether a novice or a master, this book will want you coming back for more...a must read for anyone who embraces and desires to expand their essence.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully written and interesting book... June 1 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Raised as a Presbyterian, a competitive swimmer, and a mathematician (order not important), I am not naturally drawn either to spiritual mysticism or yoga. This beautifully written and interesting book, however, has helped me to understand how one could be drawn to those things. My thanks to the author, who obviously cares very deeply about her subject.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life Journey June 9 2004
By lorene k gilliksen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Diane offers several suggestions for how to read her book, Torah Yoga. My choice has been to read and reread the introduction. I love Diane's emphasis on first things: the word, the breath, attending to the foundation before moving into postures and finding the origins of our life journeys.
As a midwife, I work with women and families embarking on the life journey of pregnancy. Today in the U.S., alot of technology is available to evaluate the status of pregnancy. As a guide for pregnant women, I try to encourage them to trust their own intuition and the strength of their own bodies. Diane has given me the tools to promote this concept with women.
I've had the privilege to take Torah Yoga classes with Diane, I can hear her voice when I read the explanation of postures in her book. The directions are easy to follow. Perhaps I only want to read the introduction because I don't want to come to the end of the book. But the book is a guide to a journey. Diane has given me and everyone else who reads her book the encouragement we need to become our own guides.
13 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Moving Into Silliness March 19 2007
By louienapoli - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Torah Yoga tries to weave together overly simplified, and uselessly simplistic, ideas from Jewish mysticism with hatha yoga practice and philosophy. The result reads like those affirmations Al Franken used to do on SNL. Yes, you may be a spark of God's infinite light, and that may lead to a warm and fuzzy feeling, but it won't deepen your understanding of Kabbalah or improve your downward-facing-dog. In my admittedly limited understanding, both Kabbalah and yoga philosophy are demanding and intricate doctrines. They deserve careful study. This book, though well-intentioned, infantilizes both topics.

If you want a book to enhance your yoga practice, there are many, many titles that far surpass this. I'm sure the same is true if you want to grapple with the rigors of Hinduism or Jewish mysticism.

Superb hatha yoga books that are gentle and user-friendly include Donna Farhi's "Yoga Mind, Body and Spirit," and Erich Schiffman's "Moving Into Stillness." I'd spend the money on either one rather than this.
4.0 out of 5 stars A fresh approach in a lovely voice Nov. 24 2010
By rovingsparks - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"Yoga is as vast and varied as the ocean" says Diane Bloomfield in her book, and judging by the diversity of practitioners in the world today, she is right. Diane's Torah yoga adds another voice to the field, a radiant Jewish voice, and provides further proof that spiritual practice can transcend race and religion and also be practical, helpful, even necessary in modern life.

Diane writes of the Torah as "black fire on white fire", an allegory for the dancing letters of Hebrew against the plainness of the manuscript, or the discipline of words and study against the receptivity of yogic practice and meditation. It is a summary of her unique and compelling attitude, which is to deliberately pursue higher consciousness whilst catering for a very real need to include and care for the body as a spiritual instrument. In how many ways do we ignore or denigrate the body in modern society? Countless ways! Diane paints a vivid alternative with serene strokes of language that resonate with truth and sincerity.

Her approach in this book is definitely personal, but there are enough erudite nuggets in there to satisfy a theosophile without losing the flow to mere doctrine. A manual for yoga it is not, indeed, the poses are shown in an order that I would be hesitant to recommend as a guide for practice. While I am not familiar with the Torah, Diane's enthusiasm for her faith is evident and infectious. For example, I enjoyed reading her (brief) exposition of the unspeakable Hebrew name for God, YHVH, which when pronounced by its individual letters sounds just like a breath, and when written vertically looks like a stick-figure human. What a beautiful connection between her faith and yoga, which promises a stairway to the Divine made of breath and physical discipline!

I put down this book knowing a little more about the Jewish faith and no more about yoga, but that is not its value. It made me recognise the hunger I see in my yoga students, whether they know it or not: that unspeakable longing to reside even for a moment in the strength and light hidden within each one of us and frustratingly out of reach amidst the noise of modern living. Diane quotes the first chief Rabbi of Israel, Rav Kook, and leaves us in no doubt as to why she wrote this book:

" 'All existence whispers to me a secret:
I have life to offer - take it, take it...
Arise, and live, and sing to beauty and to life...
Draw delight unending from the dew of heaven.'

With yoga, you can hear your own breath and body whispering to you: I have life to offer - take it, take it."

I commend her example, as I commend her book.
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