<i>Mussar</i> Yoga: Blending an Ancient Jewish Spiritual Practice with Yoga to Transform Body and Soul

A book from Jewish Lights, SkyLight Paths’ sister imprint

A clear and easy-to-use introduction to Mussar Yoga—a blending of Jewish and Eastern spiritual practices. Intended for the novice as well as the yoga expert and for people of all faiths, each exercise is accompanied by step-by-step instructions, helpful photographs, mantras and journaling exercises.

Edith R. Brotman, PhD, RYT-500
Foreword by Alan Morinis, founder and director, The Mussar Institute

7 x 9, 224 pp, w/ over 40 b/w photo illus. | 978-1-58023-784-0

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An accessible introduction to an embodied spiritual practice for anyone seeking profound and lasting self-transformation.

Mussar practice aims to help us become more whole in our lives. It is focused on helping us move from partialness or even brokenness toward wholeness. Yoga embodies a similar concept.... By marrying Mussar practice and yoga practice, this book opens a new pathway to developing greater wholeness.... The wholeness that comes of our efforts in turn affects both body and soul, and we experience the fruit of our efforts in the form of inner peace.”

—from the Foreword

In this clear and easy-to-use introduction to Mussar Yoga—a blending of Jewish and Eastern spiritual practices—you will learn how to explore the physical dimension of ethical behaviors and attitudes such as humility, generosity, enthusiasm and gratitude through yoga poses and the yogic practice of breath work. Intended for the novice as well as the yoga expert, and for people of all faiths, each exercise is accompanied by step-by-step instructions, helpful photographs, mantras and journaling exercises.

With practice, Mussar Yoga can help free you from bad habits and self-destructive behavior, increase your capacity for compassion and acts of goodness, and help you develop a more fulfilling, meaningful life.

“Wow, wow, wow! I love this book! I will repeatedly turn to it for personal inspiration and to share with our yoga communities, including our teachers and teacher training programs. [A] book for people of all faiths and yoga practitioners everywhere.”

Tami Schneider, owner, Cleveland Yoga

“Brings together two remarkable spiritual traditions. Reminds us that we are ‘meant to shine with the radiant light’ of our pure souls and gives us an excellent and beautifully written guide to get us there physically, spiritually and intellectually.”

Erica Brown, scholar-in-residence, Jewish Federation of Greater Washington; author, Inspired Jewish Leadership: Practical Approaches to Building Strong Communities

“Practical instruction through spiritual writings, real-world deeds and yoga movements lay out a spiritual path to self-realization that anyone can follow.”

Steven A. Rapp, author, Aleph-Bet Yoga: Embodying the Hebrew Letters for Physical and Spiritual Well-Being

“Takes the traits of Mussar to the mat of yoga.... Helps us embody truth in a way that transforms body, heart, mind and soul.”

Rabbi Rami Shapiro, author, Perennial Wisdom for the Spiritually Independent: Sacred Teachings—Annotated and Explained

“A carefully considered work that opens windows on two meaningful practices.... Edith Brotman’s commitment to the integration of the two in her own life compels the reader to do the same.”

Rabbi B. Elka Abrahamson, president, The Wexner Foundation

Foreword ix
Acknowledgments xi
A Note to the Reader xiii

Introduction Mussar and Yoga: A Brief History ¥ Why Combine Mussar and Yoga?
¥ Is the Mussar Yoga Path for You?

How to Practice Mussar Yoga 9
Awareness: How Do You Measure Up? ¥ Accountability: From
Awareness to Action ¥ Getting Started ¥ The Fundamentals of Yoga
Poses: Easy Pose ¥ Mountain Pose ¥ Forward Fold ¥ Downward
Facing Dog ¥ Warrior II

1 Truth 25
Why We Lie ¥ To Thy Own Self Be True
¥ Be True to Others: Six Guidelines
Poses: Mountain ¥ Camel
Meditation: Ten-Minute Mindfulness Meditation

2 Courage 37
Play Your Edge ¥ The Contagion of Courage
¥ Courage versus Recklessness
Poses: Triangle ¥ Handstand ¥ Crow
Breathwork: Lion's Breath

3 Humility 49
The Challenge of Ego ¥ Balancing Ego ¥ Managing Ego
Poses: Warrior I ¥ Humble Warrior ¥ Half Moon ¥ Headstand

4 Order 63
Creating Order Is Spiritual Work ¥ The Beauty of Chaos
Poses: Side Plank ¥ Flipped Dog
Breathwork: Alternate Nostril Breathing

5 Nonjudgment 73
Honoring Others, Honoring Ourself ¥ Finding Balance
Poses: Eagle ¥ Warrior III ¥ Seated Forward Bend

6 Zeal 85
Your Patterns of Energy ¥ Obstacles to Living with Zeal
¥ Staying Inspired
Poses: High Push-up (Plank)/Low Push-up ¥ Warrior II
Breathwork: Breath of Joy

7 Simplicity 95
Six Ways to Simplify Your Life ¥ Finding Balance with Simplicity
Poses: Revolved Lunge ¥ Half (King) Pigeon ¥ Corpse Pose
Breathwork: Skull Brightening Breath

8 Equanimity 109
Put Yourself in a Storm ¥ Be the Inner Witness ¥ Stay with
Equanimity ¥ Equanimity for Ourself and Others ¥ Ups and Downs
Poses: Chair ¥ Bound Extended Side Angle ¥ Reverse Warrior
Breathwork: Victorious Breath

9 Generosity 123
More Than Money ¥ The Abundance Cycle
¥ Widening the Circle of Giving ¥ Letting Others Give
Poses: Boat ¥ Partner Backbends
Breathwork: Breath Retention

10 Silence 133
Silence Is Golden ¥ Silence and Conflict
Poses: Upward Facing Dog ¥ Tree ¥ Supine Twist

11 Gratitude 143
Gratitude as Perspective ¥ Gratitude and Impermanence
¥ Gratitude for Life's Challenges ¥ Gratitude and Memory
¥ Gratitude as Domestic Currency ¥ Environmentalism as
Gratitude ¥ Blessings Practice
Poses: Downward Facing Dog ¥ Childճ ¥ Bridge

12 Loving-Kindness and Compassion 155
Finding Oneness in the Midst of Differences
¥ Loving-Kindness: A Two-Step Approach
¥ Compassion: Responding with Understanding and Action
Poses: Pyramid ¥ Locust
Meditation: Loving-Kindness (Metta)

13 Trust 167
Limits on Human Control ¥ How to Surrender
¥ The Lightness of Letting Go
Poses: Forward Fold ¥ Seated Twist ¥ Frog

Conclusion 179
Begin Again ¥ Creating a Mussar Yoga Practice Group

Notes 184
Glossary 188
Resources 190