federicavalabrega

A mat with a passport

In Uncategorized on October 8, 2012 at 7:45 pm


I walked through the door of this 1960’s building in the residential neighborhood of Rahavya and I found myself in a kindergarten while looking for a yoga studio. Yet, the facebook tread was clear: “Come join our Power Flow yoga classes in Jerusalem!”
I had almost turned around on my feet, when I spotted a woman holding a yoga mat. I smiled. She smiled back. Finally I knew I was in the right place. The class was challenging, the teacher full of energy and at least eight months pregnant, but still holding handstand and demoing anything we needed to see.
I was impressed especially when, by the end of class, I introduced myself and Chaya Bracha said to me she was indeed over nine months pregnant and ready “to pop” any moment.
Little did I know, she delivered her first baby girl in her home two days after I met her. It was 10pm after the end of Shabbat *(in Israel most people are religious and do not use cell phone or any form of technology during the holy day of Shabbat) when I got a call from her asking me if I could take over all of her classed for at least a couple of months. She said “she trusted me since I was also a Core Power Yoga trainee from Boulder.”
I was ecstatic she asked me since we had only met once before. But, of course, I said yes even though my plan to be in Israel was a bit different. Aside from being a 500-hours-certified Yoga teacher, I am in fact a freelance photojournalist and I had gone to Jerusalem for a photography book project I had been working on since 2010 back in Brooklyn.
But, in the end teaching yoga has always been a way to balance my personal and professional life and the challenge of having to do this in a foreign country, especially with religious women, was an experience I was not going to pass on.
Within three months, I had a nice following of young to middle age ladies, mostly religious Jews who were either students or freelancers themselves. I was teaching a mix of Power Vinyasa and Dharma Mittra Yoga with some one-pointed meditation and pranayama
Yet, the biggest challenge for me having been a strong follower of Sri Dharma Mittra and his more meditative yoga style, was trying to share my experience with my students. Although our religious views were the same, since I am Jewish myself these more religious women were not open to OM-ing or concentrating to the “inner self,“ because they felt they were committing idolatry this way.
Anyhow, it had been the best teaching experience of my career yet. Not only did I witness a strong growth in the demand of my students, but I also saw them getting better and more motivated that ever to work on their body and mind in a city that is nothing, but spiritual and where the availability of such classes has always been scarce, despite the request.
I liked teaching Israeli women so much that, by the last three week of my stay, I ended up having to host private yoga classes in my rental apartment, where my 10 by 12 bedroom did the trick.
If you would have told me when I was planning my trip to the Holy Land six months before that I was going to receive emails and facebook messages from religious Jewish women I had never met, but heard of me in Jerusalem because they wanted to take private yoga classes with me, the Italian photojournalist touring the country, I would have laughed. But yet again, now, I can’t wait to go back!~

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: