Community Blog Breath Lab of Hebrew College

By Wendy Linden
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Hit pause on the day. Unwind, breathe, and recharge—Jewishly. That’s the philosophy behind Breath Lab.

Founded by Hebrew College rabbinical student Yaakov Ginsberg-Schreck and Evelyn Punch, a seasoned yoga teacher with a background in biochemistry and neuroscience, Breath Lab offers anatomy-based movement classes, as well as combined yoga and kavannah/text study sessions, for personal well-being and Divine connection. In the combined sessions, Evelyn draws on her scientific background and practical Talmudic knowledge of the body to teach a one-hour yoga class, followed by Yaakov’s 30-minute text study.

“We have the power to tune out of fight-or-flight and genuinely ground in ourselves,” says Yaakov. “Ranging from Biblical to Rabbinic to Kabbalistic and Chasidic sources, the breath and body are intimately tied to the quality of spiritual well-being. In destabilizing times like these, it’s through tuning into our inner stability and balance that we can reach equilibrium, clarity, and envision a brighter future.”

Breath Lab launched in February at Hebrew College, drawing participants from across the Hebrew College community. Since moving online in March, it has been reaching communities in Greater Boston and across the country. They run weekly sessions for Temple Israel of Boston and, earlier this month, teamed up with IKAR in Los Angeles.

According to Yaakov, there’s an ancient Jewish flag planted in mindfulness practice. “In the Torah, the word for Egypt, Mitzrayim, literally means ‘from the narrow places,’ and our sacred journey is from these places of narrowness to expansive liberation. On the yoga mat, this transformation is literal. We release tension in the body’s narrow places and bring blood flow to the tissues —gaining freedom in the terrain of our own being. This process of unwinding tension and coming into peacefulness is through the body. And while that’s a universal human experience, the journey can be lived and narrated through a uniquely Jewish idiom.”

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