Yoga is for everyone but not everyone is for yoga. It’s good to see yoga moving into areas otherwise considered as out of bounds. This articles is a good example of this.
In 1997, Rachel Kolberg was newly married, pregnant and living in Tel Aviv when she went to her first yoga class. It was a revelation. Her husband, Avraham, soon began practicing with her. “I was looking for some spiritual support,” he says. “Yoga gave that to me.” Seven years later, the couple opened their own studio, determined to introduce yoga to fellow Orthodox Jews in Beit Shemesh. They teach Iyengar yoga, a discipline that encourages the use of props to assist with poses. While yoga is increasingly popular in Israel, Avraham says, it is “revolutionary” in their neighborhood. Their students, taught in single-sex classes, are encouraged to come as they are, even in day clothes or long skirts, if necessary. The Kolbergs say yoga helps people who spend long days in prayer and study and aren’t physically active. But, Rachel says, “in our studio, we will never have practices that contradict our religion, such as mantras and chanting.” Julie Bosman
Year the Kolbergs opened their Beit Shemesh yoga studio: 2004
Students who practice at the studio each week: Roughly 100
Ratio of female to male students: Three to two