A Yogi and a Jew

A couple months ago, I decided to do a yoga teacher training to become certified.

I wanted a deeper sense of self-discovery.

I wanted to learn more about myself.

Yoga teacher training gave me the tools to walk through life with a bit more ease.

It helped me stay grounded.

It also become a go-to place to escape from the everyday, perhaps too much so.

“I can’t stand the real world sometimes,” I whined to my amazing friend Sara, while we were drinking tea in a cozy place in the East Village, the kind were you could sit at a small table and enjoy a conversation without being drowned out by music or loud talk.

“Why do you hate the real world?” she asked curiously.

I said, “Because I can’t stand falling in love, being broken hearted, then being happy, then dealing with fake friends, and losing people you love.”

“It’s just so hard.”

“At yoga, everyone is nice.”

“I would much rather live in an Ashram where everyone is so kind and peaceful, where all we do is love one another and contribute to the world.”

Compassionately, Sara responded, “But, Anat, sadness and happiness, falling in love, hate, and the experience of fake friends betraying you are all part of this physical experience.”
“Ultimately, yoga sees happiness and pain as the same thing.”

“The goal is to be content, neither to be in happiness or sadness.”

“In fact, the goal in yoga is not to escape the real world.”

“The goal in yoga, is to be in harmony with everything around you, which includes the real world.”

I sighed and said stubbornly, “Oh I know. But, if I were born in India in an Ashram, maybe I would have had a more peaceful life.”

Sara snapped and started railing at me, “Anat, snap out of it!”

“You are not Indian.”

“You are Jewish.”

“Know your identity, and own it.”

“You can’t live in an Ashram, and escaping the real world is not doing Yoga.”

“You are the soul experiencing the life of Anat Ghelber who also happens to be Jewish.”

“Look at yourself as a third person, you have to know who Anat is.”

“You have to know her ego, what motivates her.”

“You can say to yourself, ‘I am the soul experiencing the life of Anat Ghelber who has been through X, Y, Z, who was born to a Jewish family and it’s my job to take care of her.’ ”

Sure enough, after the conversation, I hopped on the subway and there were two guys picking on a Jewish kid calling him derogatory names.

I decided to join the conversation because I felt such deep need to protect him, and that’s when it struck me.

Sara was right.

I can be Jewish and a Yogi at the same time.

I felt the need to step up and protect one of my people.

In order for us to be in harmony with others we first have to be in harmony with ourselves, our basic identity.

About the Author
Anat Ghelber was born in Israel and moved to Texas when she was 13. She experienced anti-Semitism in public schools there. She moved to New York City when she was 20, and is currently studying for a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work. She started submitting articles to the Jewish Voice two years ago. In her free time enjoys writing poems. She's also a certified Yoga teacher with 200 hours of training who teaches in a donation-based studio called Yoga to the People in New York City.
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