Thursday, December 29, 2011

Festival of Lights

Happy Hanukkah (Chanukah) to those that celebrate. Although I do not practice the Jewish faith, I honor the lineage through my blood bonds and the DNA strands that reach back to the infinite and connect me to my ancestors, some of whom were Jewish. 

I think it is important to be aware and respectful of any religious or faithful tradition that is different from the one you call your own. I find the HOLY-days to be an especially good time to honor the differences within the similarities that make us all human beings.

Thus, on this, the first day of Hanukkah, I honor the Festival of Lights. As yogis, are we not always on the quest for the light of truth, for the light within, the bright soul yearning to know the Divine? That is the connection that makes us the same while the traditions and the literature make us different, yet still beautiful.

How can we, as yogis, internalize the lessons and meaning of Hanukkah and connect them to our own practice? I think the symbol of the Menorah is a great place to begin. This ancient and sacred piece represents the light of G-d, a beacon to all nations (Isaiah 42:6) and ancient sages are known to have thought that it represented non-violence as the path to promise, never force. That sounds a lot like something we yogis believe.

What I find interesting in yoga philosophy is the symbol of the chakras, the centers of light and energy in our own bodies. This corresponds nicely to the traditional 7 branch Menorah and may make an interesting meditation as you explore the meaning of Jewish tradition and the relevancy to your own belief systems.
For your own knowledge, the Menorah for Hanukkah is special, it has 9 branches; the center candle is the light for the 8 candles of celebration. I encourage you to find stories of Hanukkah and learn more about these traditions on your own.

And please, instead of wishing your Jewish friends “Happy Holidays,” take the extra step and wish them well in their own tradition. Try to wish a Happy Hanukkah instead and know that you are also celebrating your own inner light, which is also a miracle.

Maybe you can gift someone you know with 8 days of new music. Type light into our search bar and see what comes up – maybe you can make your own special Yoga music Hanukkah playlist and share it with us!

This post is dedicated to my dear friend Nichole. She took a look at the love of her life and made a leap of faith – literally, this is her first Hanukkah as a Jewish woman and I am so proud of the hard work and love that went into this conversion.

-Written by Kirsten Hedden, who teaches at Namaste Wellness Studio in Peoria, IL

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