No Yoga Mat Required

Vinahapoch-hu. For kids and even teenagers, the whole concept of being able to dress up on Purim is arguably the most exciting aspect of their whole year. They get to finally be the firefighter that they dream of being when they grow up, the biblical character that they’d been eyeing throughout Tanach, or even the most original costume yet: a princess. When wearing the firefighter/biblical character/princess costume, children take this facade extremely seriously and insist on being called by that name and mimicking the way their alter ego would talk. They embody their new persona and truly embrace the meaning of Vinahapoch-hu.  

Fast forward a couple of years and now you’re an adult and dressing up just got a lot less fun. If you do indeed dress up, it becomes more of a statement of showing that you can still be fun in your old age rather than a sign of some religious tradition. How then can you attempt to maintain the Purim motif of Vinahapoch-hu if costumes have become passé?  

Yoga is often practiced to center the mind, body and soul. You perfect your breathing and stretch your body while your yoga instructor (or the YouTube video tutorial you’re watching) guides you through the poses and promises that at the end of the routine you’ll feel more in control of your life. Ironically, to do this, you twist your limbs into uncomfortable positions and into yoga poses that are named after animals or objects: cobra, pigeon, tree and warrior to name a few. And in the midst of this practice, guess what? Metaphorically, you have just embraced the essence of Vinahapoch-hu by becoming, if only for a second, some aspect of that animal or object. On a literal level as well, the poses that require you to balance on your head or bend upside down represent an actual manifestation of Vinahapoch-hu : you have physically turned matters (in this case, your body) upside down. With both of these arenas working together, the result is a complete centering. In other words, by embodying the opposite of what we normally are we reach utter clarity.

This month of Adar, this Purim, try a mental yoga pose. For those of you who just can’t break away from your high intensity spinning class, this is the perfect chance to sample the lifestyle. Try out a new outlook on life without the obvious shove from contorting your body into an extended-side-angle-with-bind pose. Altering your usual perspective (i.e. putting on that princess costume) allows you to step away from your narrow-mindedness and achieve an inner calm.

When your friend says the one thing you didn’t want to hear, remind yourself that it isn’t all about you. When your brother doesn’t invite you for a Yom Tov meal, don’t jump to conclusions and work yourself into a frenzy by remembering all of the other times that you weren’t invited over. Instead, practice your new routine.

Sun Salutation. Maybe that friend forgot your sensitivities for a second, not out of neglect but out of a need to vent to you about her own pressing matters.

 Downward Dog. Maybe your brother committed to hosting his in-law family and didn’t invite your from fear of making you feel out of place at the meal.

 Crescent Pose.  Vinahapoch-hu. Find your center this Purim.