Yoga on High, Part I

Tcehelet Yoga in Kfar Sirkin at sunset

In the past two months, I have taught yoga three times. It’s not a lot, in fact nothing compared to my 15 classes a week in Westchester, but it was enough to sustain me and realize the potential. Thanks to Michal Lichtmann, an Israeli living in New Jersey whose mission in life is to bring Anusara yoga to this country, I met a man named Erel, first via email introduction before I had arrived, then by phone shortly after landing, and finally in person. Erel built a beautiful, intimate studio in his backyard on a moshav called Kfar Sirkin, just outside Petah Tikve. Called Techelet Yoga or aqua blue, which is the color of the building, it can fit about 20 yogis and offers a range of classes—vinyasa, Iyengar, Ashtanga, pilates. Erel’s heart, however, is with Anusara. After learning with Todd Norian and Desiree Rumbaugh, both of whom came to Israel in the past few years, he was hooked. When he realized I was of the same mold, he called me to sub for him in September. I asked him which language I should speak, unsure of my ability to teach in Hebrew or even just speak it for 90 minutes straight, and was relieved to learn it didn’t matter. Either, he told me, was okay.

That first Tuesday night I was due to teach I had a nervous tummy and my head was spinning, rehearsing the theme for the class and trying to translate it in my head. Thanks to traffic and a lot of red lights, I arrived two minutes before it started and had no choice but to dive in head first. The sun had just set, men and women were gathered on the front porch chatting and drinking water and the field behind the studio made the land look endless.

“Atem muchanim le yoga?” I asked them if they were ready for yoga, motioning them to enter. One by one, the students filed in, smiling, greeting me warmly, curious if I was the sub. They knew Erel was away but had no idea what to expect.

I did my usual, asking each one his and her name, if they had any injuries I should know about. They answered as they unrolled their mats and took their places, sat and waited for me to begin. My voice was shaky.

“Cama mehem kvar asta yoga be’anglit o be safah acheret?” I asked how many of them had ever taken yoga in English or in another language. One of ten raised her hand. Then I introduced myself—name, country of origin, date of arrival. I told them this was my first time teaching in another language, in Hebrew, and to please bear with me. I asked them if anyone knew what Anusara meant, the definition. Some guessed but most were quiet. I explained it means open to grace, which can be otherwise understood as open your heart, open to the divine, whatever you want to call it, and that we were going to spend our time opening our hearts, physically. I further explained why that word touches me so deeply, that I, as a returning resident, one who has tried this living-in-Israel thing twice before, am working hard—off the mat—staying open to all the possibilities. And what better than this: yoga on a hot September night at sunset with an open field outside and sounds of nature drumming in our ears?

A very open and fun kula

We sat tall, closed our eyes, chanted OM three times together and began our practice in what quickly became apparent to me as Hebrish. I spoke in Hebrew as long as I could, as much as possible, until I couldn’t, until I didn’t know the word or knew it but couldn’t pronounce it or pronounced it wrong and all I—we—could do was laugh.

That Tuesday night and the Friday afternoon and Tuesday night that followed put me on a yoga high. The students were as open to me and everything I had to offer as I was to them. After teaching at Techelet, I understood that I am a teacher regardless of what language I speak or where I live.

Leave a Comment

24 Responses to “Yoga on High, Part I”

  1. Doris Fankhauser November 6, 2011 at 3:44 am #

    Wonderful story and I am happy to read that you are back to teaching and using your language skills. I miss your classes and some very lucky students will be happy to have you as a new teacher.

    • Jennifer Lang November 7, 2011 at 1:23 pm #

      Language skills and right brain, left brain galore. I have to concentrate on every word and laugh at myself a lot.

  2. Mom/Grandma Marianne November 6, 2011 at 5:06 am #

    Be it in Frenglish or Hebrish you make it happen! I am very proud of and happy for you! love…

    • Jennifer Lang November 7, 2011 at 1:22 pm #

      xo and xo again and again

  3. Lauren D. November 6, 2011 at 5:42 am #

    Lovely – am high too just reading this latest missive.

    • Jennifer Lang November 7, 2011 at 1:22 pm #

      Thanks, Lauren. I’m hoping for more…

  4. Laura Rotter November 6, 2011 at 6:06 am #

    You md me cry….so happy t’s working out for you.

    • Jennifer Lang November 7, 2011 at 1:22 pm #

      Thanks, Laura. Want to join me?

      • Laura Rotter November 7, 2011 at 3:30 pm #

        You know I do!

  5. Liba November 6, 2011 at 12:27 pm #

    I miss your class so much! I’m sure those students loved having you!

    • Jennifer Lang November 7, 2011 at 1:22 pm #

      Have you found a place to practice? Just remember that beautiful mat and bag you have along with the body!

  6. Jill November 6, 2011 at 12:37 pm #

    Good for you!
    Wonderful news!
    From your pilates faithful cuz

    • Jennifer Lang November 7, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

      Thanks, cuz. Enjoy your pilates…

  7. maris November 6, 2011 at 8:13 pm #

    Jealous of your new students but soo happy for you! Miss you more than you can possibly know!

    • Jennifer Lang November 7, 2011 at 1:20 pm #

      All I can say is, are you coming here anytime soon? xo

  8. Annette November 6, 2011 at 9:07 pm #

    Our loss is their good fortune! Happy to hear you are teaching again.

    • Jennifer Lang November 7, 2011 at 1:19 pm #

      Thanks. Wish it were you in front of me though!

  9. Cindy November 7, 2011 at 12:59 am #

    of course you made it happen, didn’t expect anything less xoxox

    • Jennifer Lang November 7, 2011 at 1:19 pm #

      I totally appreciate the love and support and confidence you have in me. Thank you, friend!

  10. auntie mona November 7, 2011 at 1:36 am #

    Wonderful experience to read about!!!

    • Jennifer Lang November 7, 2011 at 1:18 pm #

      Thanks, Auntie M! Great to have too.

  11. Cathleen B November 7, 2011 at 6:17 pm #

    An inspirational story. I’m eagerly awaiting Part II!

    • Jennifer Lang November 7, 2011 at 6:26 pm #

      It’s coming, it’s coming, I promise! xo


  1. Summarizing summer | Open To Israel - September 1, 2013

    […] yoga lives on: the day after my birthday I drove to Techelet Yoga, where I had subbed a few times upon arrival two years earlier, to attend a three-hour yoga […]

Leave a Reply