December 13, 2013

Shal-Ohmm Yoga is for Prime Ministers too…or Kings. ~ Carla Berkowitz

A connection between the First Prime Minister of India and the First Prime Minister of Israel…who knew!

We all know that Sirsasana or headstand is the “King” of all poses (pun intended). It’s benefits are clearly known and well proven, especially by giving you a sense of tremendous accomplishment. But establishing a country and balancing millions of people’s beliefs is a benefit not many can claim from headstand…except David Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel.

His unlikely friendship with first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, led to a life-long love of yoga and meditation. Ben Gurion was inspired by everything: languages, foreign cultures, physics, art and especially what he read.

He loved to stand on his head. He was an avid Yogi, travelled to India to study meditation, Buddhism, yoga and Zen teachings, and his guru was Moshe Feldenkrais (Feldenkrais Method). It is widely known that he scheduled his cabinet meetings so as not to interfere with his yoga and meditation.

In his world, Jewish principles, Buddhism, Zen thoughts, meditation and yoga helped him turn the Middle East from anarchy to the “organized chaos” that characterizes the region today.

Viewing the world up side down gave him a completely new perspective helping him reconcile the many contradictions, ethnicities, hopes and needs of a country. He was taught and understood deeply that the process, like in yoga, should be approached gently, methodically and intelligently, not by “brute force.” He used his “Ajna Chakra”, finely tuned intuition, to approach the challenges in forming a country in an already highly conflicted area.

I have always told my students to approach headstand as if you were struggling with an off the mat problem, issue, or anything puzzling they cannot figure out no matter how many times they look at it. I tell them to go upside down. Not only will they see their world from a different perspective, but the solution often becomes clear.

Ben Gurion had the hopes, dreams and needs of millions on his shoulders, but rather than let the weight collapse on him, he strengthened them and showed them, as in the yoga world, to support itself.

Take a lesson from our children because they are fearless; they love to be up-side down. As we grow older we lose that fearless quality and begin to measure our steps as adults. This process is natural and necessary if we’re going to function and thrive off the mat, but if we can tap just a bit into our “fearlessness” every day, we can learn to turn our problems upside down, so they look a lot more like solutions.

Maybe we feel like our challenges seem as insurmountable as Ben Gurion’s were and they may just be.

Let’s all try to use his grace, his balance, his perspective, and his fearlessness to achieve things that we didn’t think were possible.

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Assistant Editor: Daniel Garcia/Editor: Bryonie Wise

Image: Clara Berkowitz

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