Scratch the Itch
KOSHER SUTRA He shall dwell alone, outside of the camp (Lev 13:46)
SOUL SOLUTION Holistic healing for the body and soul.
BIBLIYOGA POSE Thunderbolt
BODY BENEFITS Reflection and calming.
There’s nothing funny to say about skin disorders. So I’m going to cut out the usual light-hearted introduction to the Kosher Sutras. There’s nothing flaky going on this week; it’s a serious issue and an itch that I’ve wanted to scratch for a long time. I would have written about this topic earlier but just didn’t want to do anything rash.
Most people get itchy skin at some time or other in their life. Doctors teach that there are two ways of dealing with it. Traditional Western Medicine (‘allopathic’) will usually approach the symptom by putting some kind of lotion on the skin to push the problem inside and make it disappear. Holistic medicine (ie homeopathic) will work from the inside out, taking the entire physical and mental system into account whilst looking for a cause.
This week’s Kosher Sutra can be seen as ancient, archaic and arcane. The story tells of people who are suffering from tza’arat, a kind of blemishing disease that affects people’s bodies, houses, clothes, and even their hair. There are various formulae for solving it, and one is for the sufferer to sit in isolation away from their community. This is a hard text; how is it relevant to us today?
One of the key benefits of a yoga practice is the way that it fine-tunes us to internal processes. A regular asana (posture) practice will ensure that the yogi knows how their body can feel on a good day, and how to make adjustments when they aren’t feeling tip-top. The great BKS Iyengar prescribes different poses for physical healing and has achieved legendary results over the years. By heightening our awareness over body and mind, we can often discover the roots of illness and suffering. An incredible example of this is Brandon Bayes, whose inspiring book The Journey charts her recovery from a life-threatening stomach tumour, through the use of a powerful yogic meditation.
The rabbis suggest that the tza’arat disease was a dysfunction that could be traced to various negative behaviours, such as speaking badly of others (lashon hara)*. The Talmud records how the command for the sufferer to dwell in isolation was so that they could reflect, repent and restore their behaviour**. This is a visionary text, describing a disorder that can be solved through truly holistic means. Although our current world is full of terrible diseases that still baffle medical science, perhaps this tale of holistic suffering can help us find some healing in some parts of our lives.
Today’s posture is Thunderbolt/Vajrasana. A superb meditation pose, it can be used as an opportunity for journeying inwards and increasing healing. The pose is achieved by kneeling down with your backupright, and a cushion can be placed between your shins and buttocks for increased comfort. Try sitting still, breathing deeply and smoothly and journeying inside*** to bring healing and calm into your world.
THE KOSHER SUTRAS © MARCUS J FREED/BIBLIYOGA 2010/5770
*’Tza’arat comes from loshon hara and from stinginess’ Devarim Rabbah 6:8. (trans: R Matis Weinberg).
**”’He shall dwell alone, outside of the camp’ (Lev 13:46). Why must the metzorah dwell alone? He utilised loshon hara to detach man from wife and people from friends – he too must be isolated” BT Arachin 16a.
***To take this meditation further, try focusing on a specific ailment, imagine yourself journeying inside to that part of your body, ‘look around’ inside your muscles at the problem, notice what shoes you are wearing and be aware if there is an unresolved emotional issue that comes to mind.
This is a useful meditation pose that can be easier than sitting in one of the various cross-legged positions.
i. Kneel on the ground with your shins next to one another.
ii. Sit on your heels.
iii. Straighten your back, draw your shoulder blades downwards and place your hands facing down on either knee.
iv. Look forwards.
Variation: Place a pillow beneath your buttocks so that your knees don’t have to bend as much.
Benefits: Tones the spinal column and increases calm.