Heart to Heart
Eikev 5770/2010
KOSHER SUTRA 'circumcise the foreskin of your hearts' (Deut 10:16)
SOUL SOLUTION Create space for peaceful relationships
BODY BENEFITS Flexible spine and neck, opens heart, stimulates adrenals

We have the possibility to bring lasting peace to the world through acting with compassion. The key to liberation, according to Moses, is to 'circumcise the foreskin of your hearts and stop being stiffnecked' (Deuteronomy 10:16). It takes practice to be truly flexible when it comes to stretching our neck and seeing things from another person’s perspective and to truly opening our heart when it might otherwise be closed.

The most frequent phrase I hear before teaching new students is people saying “I’m not good at yoga”. They are, of course, referring to the fact that they don’t feel physically flexible or able to touch their toes. This isn’t the essence of yoga; we are using external poses as ways to deepen our meditation and to cleanse our body. The goal of the practice is to refine our character, to become one with God and to be able to act with compassion in every moment*.

The Biblical commentator Rashi explained that ‘circumcising the foreskin of the heart’ means to remove the ‘blockages and coverings of your hearts’. The Kosher Sutra mentions the plural ‘hearts’ rather than ‘heart’ because we are in this together. This is a group exercise. If you are open and I am closed then we can’t create a peaceful relationship. This is about working to release the unhealthy blockages that stand in the way of strong connections.

The Hebrew word for blockages is ‘Otem’ which actually means ‘seal’. Classical yoga has all kinds of seals for keeping pranic energy sealed within the body**, so that we keep in the good energy and flush out the bad stuff. We can use this yogic meditation practice to reflect on our personality and become aware of our negative behaviours. One aspect of yoga that continually amazes me is how it continually brings a spotlight on those aspects of our personality that need to be fixed and refined. Regardless of whether you can touch your toes or not, the whole process enables us to grow on many levels.

Our hearts can become closed and our hearts can become covered. Salty diets, high cholesterol and an abundance of red meat can add an additional 'covering' to our heart that will stand in the way of realising our potential. Stress, anger and negative feelings will further compound this problem and it’s been scientifically proven that psychologically-induced stress is the cause of many illnesses.

Be blessed with an open heart, the flexibility to turn your neck to see the potential around you, and let’s flood this world with peace and compassion.




*The yamas and niyamas, principles of inter-personal development, are listed before the physical postures (asana) in the yoga system described by the Yoga Sutras.
**As in the new year’s greeting ‘Gmar Hatima Tova’, wishing people that they should be sealed in the Book of Life on Rosh Hashanah. The Yogic 'seals' include Mulah Bandah and Uddiyana Bandah, which are energy locks around the perineum and abdomen.






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Marcus J Freed is the creator of Bibliyoga, USA & North America Director of  Yoga Mosaic – the association for Jewish yoga teachers, and yogi-in-residence for JConnectLA and Jewlicious Festivals.




i. Lie on your front and inhale taking holds of both of your ankles from the outsides.
ii. As you inhale lift your chest upwards and push your feet backwards whilst holding onto them.
iii. The shape you form looks like a bow and the idea is to keep your body tense like the string of the bow. Continue to push your feet backwards which will in turn open your shoulders and lift your chest higher.
iv. This is a backbend, so be aware of lifting your chest upwards and away from the lower back, getting the deepest possible backbend.

Modifications: Hold a strap around your ankles, or do Side Bow, below.

Advanced: Bring your elbows around the outsides and your feet up to touch the back of your head.