Observing Holy Days: Reflections of a Jewish Yogi

I am writing this from a hotel room at a Hyatt Regency in Indianapolis. Today is Rosh Hashanah. Ten or more  years ago I might have been sitting in synagogue.

I can’t remember the last time I observed the high holy days. Though, I still get that tug. That voice that says, we should be doing something. But over the years that voice has been barely heard much less listened to over the other demands of my life.

Today my husband will be watching the game at a sports bar with my father and our son. I will probably be getting a pedicure with my mother and I am sure we will mention the fact that we are doing nothing to acknowledge this day. My mom will probably say, “But we are together,” and she’s right. That at least is something.

But as I stare out the window and look at this gloomy  Midwestern sky I can’t help but think about the meaning of today. When I was a little girl, I dreaded these holidays. All the talk of redemption and atonement scared me. I stood on the pew so I could see the Rabbi undress and re-dress the Torah and I remember  thinking how relieved I was to have made it this year. I was still alive. When we bowed our heads to honor those who had passed I recall thinking, “Oh, they didn’t make it into the book!” 

Perhaps that thinking is one of the reasons I feel still feel vaguely guilty for not acknowledging today more than I do. I recall the Rabbi I knew from seven years ago and a sermon he delivered where he shared the meaning of our most sacred prayer, The Shema.  Shema means “hear,” He said. As in to listen up. 

It struck me that the holiest of our prayers begins with the most fundamental tenant of yoga’s teachings—  To listen. To hear.

During the Rosh Hashanah service we blow a shofar. We breathe our breath into a ram’s horn to call forth life. I read this morning that today “is also a call to remember that each one of us participates in creation every single day when we make a choice about how we want to live in the world.”

I sit back in a beige upholstered chair, close my eyes and honor my tradition by doing something my practice has strengthened in me all of these years: I listen. I observe. I call to my heart.