Passover – Traditions which inspire and transcend

Hello to all my favorite yogis.

Sorry, I have not written in a while.  Seems that keeping a proper blog is not in my constitution.  Oh well, I can let that go.

Tonight begins the Jewish Festival of Passover.  Like all good Jewish traditions, this one centers around food.  But it is not just any food, this is a meal, and a week of meals that is designed to remind us that we were once slaves in Egypt, and by the grace of G-d we were able to escape to freedom.

Tonight we will gather around our tables and tell the story of our escape from enslavement.  We will eat foods that will remind us of the tears of our ancestors, the hard work they did building pyramids, and the bread they were unable to finish baking in their rush to leave.

Passover provides us a unique opportunity to remember that we are not the only ones who have suffered slavery.  And more importantly, it encourages us to work to end the slavery that exists in  world today.  Yes, people all over the world are enslaved; children in sweat shops, children in the sex trade, adults in unsafe jobs with unfair/negligible wages, indentured servitude, battered spouses, and unfortunately the list goes on.  We don’t have to dig very deeply to find the ugliness of physical slavery in every corner of the world.

And our enslavement is not only physical. We are trapped by our computers, TVs and cell phones.  We are preyed upon by advertising which makes us think we are incomplete without the newest, latest, greatest whatever.  We suffer hunger, sexism, racism, global warming, etc. We are trapped by our childhood tapes of what it means to be good.   Spiritually and psychologically almost all of us are held by something.

And so here is Passover, and we get a chance to look about and within and choose once again to fight against slavery.  We get to rededicate ourselves to fight for freedom.  Freedom from the shackles of both physical and emotional bondage.

So, here is the work.  Look around and help out.  There are many programs out there that fight against modern-day slavery.  Pitch in, lend a hand  or send a dollar.  To quote  a favorite musician,  “none of us are free if one of use is chained.”

And also look inside, and see what are you willing to let go of this week?  Select something that is holding you back from living fully as your wonderful self.  How are you enslaved, and by what?  I know this is hard work, and it takes a brave heart to begin to let go of those chains.  Even the Israelites were reluctant to leave.    Slavery wasn’t good, but at least they knew it.  Change and freedom is scary, it is the unknown, and in the land of the unknown, we need to reach deep into our hearts for strength.  But isn’t it better that we live lives of wholeness, lives of connectedness, even if it means stepping into the wilderness.

In my classes this week, I will be encouraging my students to use their yoga practice to find the strength to touch their points of constrainment, to use their asanas to open their hearts, to become flexible enough to open the places that were closed within before.  We will be exploring backbends and their counterposes – opening our hearts and stepping into moments of awakening. And then from these moments of awakening, we can connect and be powerful in our openness and our oneness, and walk the path of yoga beyond the mat.

Shalom & Namaste
Diana Bonyhadi
Issaquah, WA

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