Bibliyoga - Yoga with a Jewish Twist

The Big Idea

Who said you can't learn Torah while wearing spandex? Where did Maimonides teach that we need to stay fit in order to know God? How can we fulfil King David's words and use our entire body for getting spiritually connected? Which ancient Rabbi performed holy handstands in the Temple?

Here in Los Angeles, more Jews attend yoga studios than synagogues. We can expend more effort trying to attract them back to traditional spaces or we can meet them where they are. We'll provide Jewish content for the yoga classes they attend and build community where they're at. We'll empower them with new ways to learn classic Jewish wisdom and help create a strong Jewish future.

Bibliyoga is the ultimate Big Jewish Idea. Think yoga with a Jewish twist - dynamic Hatha yoga that's based on teachings from midrash and Kabbalah rather than Hindu texts. Hebrew chants replace Sanskrit and everyone leaves having learnt the week's Kosher Sutra - a short, memorable Hebrew text that provides healing for the body and the soul (samples at http://bibliyoga.com/sutra.php).

Picture the scene:

1. Rebecca is 21. Today at her JCC yoga class learning 'Rodef Shalom', the rabbinic principle of Pursuing Peace in the body. At the end of the vinyasa yoga practice she joins the Bibliyoga Salon, a chevruta discussion (traditional partner learning). Voila! Community is born. Rather than everyone walking away from the yoga class in different directions, they have a shared experience for body and soul.

2. Rebecca's younger brother Jonny is uninspired by the rabbis at his school and hates Judaism. One day his gym teacher introduces the psalm 'let all my bones praise God' and teaches 'embodied prayer'. Jonny's perception of Judaism is transformed.

3. His grandfather David has limited mobility and attends a Bibliyoga class at the local JCC. The focus is good posture, and he learns yogic poses for healing his back, whilst improving his spiritual wellbeing. On days when he isn't up to class, he uses the Bibliyoga Ipad app and watches the streamed workshops online (samples at http://bibliyoga.com/media.php).

This is the Big Idea: go to where Jews are and doing what they love to. We'll add authentic Jewish content and create community there. Take Torah into non-Jewish spaces, and make it universally accessible. Why? Because once it gets 'goyish naches' (in the words of James Joyce - e.g. non-Jewish approval), the Jews will follow!

There's also an under-18's schools' syllabus, a book for home practice, and specially-commissioned music. The Big Idea will be launched with a Jewish Yogis' concert in Santa Monica, and the whole project will be sustainable through revenue streams built into the model.

Bibliyoga was developed by Marcus J Freed over the last 10 years. He's taught it in 15 countries, is a regular scholar-in-residence at Jewish communities throughout the USA, is a regular 'Pause for Thought' broadcaster on BBC Radio 2. Homeland Security recently awarded him the prestigious 01 visa for an alien of 'extraordinary and unique ability'. He's an Englishman in LA and here to stretch your horizons.

The Impact

Components of Project:

1. EDUCATION MATERIALS: SCHOOL SYLLABUS & YOGA MINYAN
i. OBJECTIVE: Strengthen Jewish future through teaching syllabus in 20 of LA,Aeos Jewish schools that integrates yoga with Jewish wisdom.
ii. MEASUREABLE OUTPUT:
Lesson plans for 10 separate Bibliyoga classes.
iii. OUTCOMES & IMPACT:
Students are amazed at how Judaism can be accessed through the body. They feel inspired and connected to their heritage.
iv. INDICATORS:
Schools are using the materials, and there is outstanding student feedback.
v. ASSUMPTIONS:
Traditional Torah teaching doesn,Aeot suit everyone and Bibliyoga offers a new way to connect with the Jewish tradition.

2. STREAMED ONLINE INTERACTIVE CLASSES
i. OBJECTIVE:
Engage the wider community by proxy through streamed classes.
ii. MEASUREABLE OUTPUT:
Weekly 60-minute class online.
iii. OUTCOMES & IMPACT:
We are engaging community members who might not otherwise attend in-person classes.
iv. INDICATORS:
Enrolment of at least 100 people per class.
v. ASSUMPTIONS:
Not everyone can or wants to go to their JCC but would attend online classes.

3. TEACHER TRAINING - CERTIFICATION PROGRAMS
i. OBJECTIVE: Deliver a 20-hour certification course and support qualified yoga teachers to integrate Jewish wisdom and into their existing classes.
ii. MEASUREABLE OUTPUT: Graduates of program, with teachers using the materials.
iii. OUTCOMES & IMPACT: Yoga studio members experience Jewish connectivity and new community.
iv. INDICATORS: 20 California yoga teachers sign up for certification.
v. ASSUMPTIONS: Jewish yoga teachers currently lack adequate resources to connect authentic Torah wisdom to their physical practice.

4. PUBLICATION OF RESOURCE BOOK*
i. OBJECTIVE: Create a Bibliyoga book with mental, spiritual & physical applications for each parsha.
ii. MEASUREABLE: Books are distributed free to schools, shuls and JCCs, and purchasable at yoga studios.
iii. OUTCOMES & IMPACT: Contribute to Jewish future through more meaningful and contemporary teaching styles.
iv. INDICATORS: Books are used and bought.
v. ASSUMPTIONS: There is a desperate need and hunger for this method of connectivity, as demonstrated through weekly readership of Marcus,Aeo ,AeuKosher Sutra,Aeu parsha blog.

5. DVD & IPAD/PHONE APPLICATION
i. OBJECTIVE: Engage community through DVD & Ipad/phone application.
ii. MEASUREABLE PROGRAMME OUTPUT:
2000 free DVDs created for distribution to education institutions and communities (and for sale at yoga studios).
iii. OUTCOMES & IMPACT:
We are opening pen people,Aeos awareness to physical-spiritual connections with Judaism.
iv. INDICATORS:
Digital downloads & DVD requests (when sold, 100% of profits returned into the project).
v. ASSUMPTIONS: Most people are connected on mobile devices and we need to stay relevant in the technological arena.

6. Creation of original Bibliyoga music.
i. OBJECTIVE:
10 tracks of Bibliyoga music, including one audio Bibliyoga class.
ii. MEASUREABLE OUTPUT:
10 Tracks available for download and 2500 CDs to be created for free communal distribution and sale (all profits back to project).
iii. OUTCOMES & IMPACT:
Music is a neutral and non-threatening platform to connect to affiliated and non-affiliated community members alike.
iv. INDICATORS:
Digital downloads and CD orders .
v. ASSUMPTIONS:
People love meditation/yoga music and play MP3 audio classes.

This Is A Great Idea Because

It's just not being done. It makes sense. It's fun. It's meaningful. It's relevant. It's engaging. It works. Period.

The Bibliyoga system provides an easier route to enlightenment and Jewish connectivity. I've gathered every physical reference from the Torah, Talmud, Midrash, Kabbalah & Commentaries, and created ways to understand them through dynamic yoga.

It's a 360-degree experiential learning paradigm using your body, soul, heart and mind.

The world looks to Los Angeles for new ideas and innovation, and Bibliyoga is at the cutting edge.

We invite you to be a part of it.

Bibliyoga: The 360-degree Jewish Learning Experience.

***Watch Marcus teaching Bibliyoga live on Fox TV in Memphis: http://www.myfoxmemphis.com/dpp/good_morning/012811-yoga-with-a-twist?CMP=201101_emailshare ***

Marcus J Freed - Bibliyoga

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