How Yoga Saved Tsuris

The yoga retreat in Clil with Sandra Sabatini enlivened not only the spine, but also the ears. Sink-a your foot-a into the ground-a, sang the Italian white-haired woman. Her song erased any strain on the coccyx, my spine straight as a cedar overlooking the Mediterranean forest, sea and sky.

 At Sandra’s instruction, I massaged the back of a woman who told me she was from Beit Lechem. Since we were in the Galilee, I assumed she was from Beit Lechem Haglilit. But no, Nahed was from the original Bethlehem. This made everything Sandra said about the ground more meaningful. In yoga, the ground has no borders; it is neither holy nor profane,  Jewish nor Arab. Rather, the ground is the place where we meet  gravity, that invisible force that pulls us to earth. Gravity behaves equally towards all humans, regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation.

Nahed, it turns out, like most of the other participants in the yoga retreat, was a yoga instructor.  My daughter and I were beginners, but because we both have two feet planted firmly on the common ground, we did not feel inept. Gravity loves beginners as well as the advanced.

I offered Nahed a ride back to Jerusalem after the retreat. During our three hour drive  we decided how to end the occupation: through yoga and creative writing.

On the following day I floated into Bar-Ilan University for the opening of the conference I had organized: Tsuris and Other Literary Pleasures. I stood solidly as a cypress, never once fearing I might fly away. Nothing swayed me left or right – not an angry cabbie, lost key, dirty carpet or broken mike. I was so cool people thought I was stoned.

It’s my spine, I explained. It’s holding me up. Those who didn’t understand got the following explanation: Gravity is pulling me down, so my head can soar upwards. Quite miraculous, no?  When the caterer tried to push me over, I breathed in through my stomach, held the air for a second at the top of my head and blew out into his face, cleansing my body. He turned to jello.

The conference was an enormous success. Everyone commented how smoothly it went. I didn’t tell them it was because-a I was sinking  my feet-a into the ground-a.

About Judy Labensohn

I'm a writer and teacher of writing.
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8 Responses to How Yoga Saved Tsuris

  1. Renée Starr says:

    That was-a really good read-a! 🙂


  2. Joan Leegant says:

    Wonderful post–as always!


  3. Hi fellow yogi,

    Do you have a story of healing or transformation through yoga that you’d like to share with the world? The Yoga Diaries is now accepting submissions and we’d love to hear stories from all over the world!

    Please spread the word and help us to spread the light.

    The Yoga Diaries


  4. estherhecht says:

    I knew you could pull of the conference, with or without the yoga help. But I’m sitting up straighter as I write these words, thanks to you.


  5. Thanks Judy. You’re the best.


  6. canalwriter says:

    Hi Judy
    You met Nahad – one of my interviewees! Makes me feel very connected. She’s a sparkling tennis player as well as yoga teacher…
    Finally its hot in London. xx


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