Facing the Blank Page, Facing the Yoga Mat: The Yoga of Writing

This is a healing workshop where we explore the interplay of body, mind, movement, breath and story.


  • SWEAT — Move through writer’s block to writing, with yoga exercises designed to free up mental and physical space.
  • WRITE — Tell necessary stories from the heart and mind, and work with these spontaneous writings in class.
  • READ — Become familiar with classical writings in poetry, memoir and spirituality.
  • LEARN — Discover how yoga principles of breath and synchronized movement can liberate the writer’s blockages.

To reserve your spot, please contact Lisa Grunberger at [email protected] or at (646) 369-2350. Space is limited so please reserve early!

About the Instructor
Lisa Grunberger was first exposed to yoga as a child by her babysitter, an accomplished yogini and professional flutist. Lisa went on to earn her doctorate in religious studies at the University of Chicago Divinity School. She deepened her yoga practice through Sivananda training in the Bahamas. She is prenatal certified and has taught yoga for children as well.

Lisa teaches a vigorous, but gentle Vinyasa (flowing) yoga class, which challenges students to be fully mindful in each pose. She views yoga as a dance between body, mind and breath that can return us to ourselves each time we come to the mat with an open heart and good intention.

In addition to teaching yoga in Philadelphia, Lisa teaches creative writing and literature at Temple University. She is the author of two books: “Yiddish Yoga: Ruthie’s Adventures in Love, Loss and the Lotus Position” and a poetry collection, “Born Knowing.” Her play, “Almost Pregnant,” about motherhood and infertility premiered in Philadelphia.

A Tale of Two Readings: Lisa Grunberger to Read From Her Work

Philadelphia’s arts and culture life is, to use Ernest Hemingway’s felicitous phrase, “a moveable feast.” Writer and award-winning poet Lisa Grunberger has contributed to this life of art and culture since she moved to Philadelphia nine years ago.

Lisa Grunberger

Lisa Grunberger

Grunberger, the Arts & Culture editor of The Philadelphia Jewish Voice, is an assistant professor of English at Temple University. She has published two books: the poetry collection Born Knowing, and the modern Jewish folktale Yiddish Yoga: Ruthie’s Adventures in Love, Loss and the Lotus Position. Grunberger will be presenting her works in Philadelphia at both a poetry reading (October 8) and a book reading (October 15). [Read more…]

Saying “YES” When You Really Mean “YES”, and Saying “NO” When You Really Mean “NO”

We are combining yoga and psychology to determine your true boundaries. Yoga invites us to quiet our minds so that we can listen.  It allows us to connect deeply with what we truly want.  Psychology incorporates various strategies to create and ultimately maintain appropriate boundaries. We will use both modalities to discover how to have more effective limits in your life, in order to feel authentic and powerful in each and every interaction. There is something in this workshop for everyone who ever struggles with setting and maintaining appropriate boundaries in their personal and professional lives.

Here are the details: May 2nd, from 1-4 p.m., at The New Leaf Club, 1225 Montrose Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010. The cost for the workshop is $50. Please RSVP to me at [email protected] if you can come so we know how many chairs to set out there to welcome you! No mats or previous yoga experience necessary. Feel free to wear comfortable clothing–we can’t wait to see you.

Dr. Amy Alfred is a licensed psychologist in Narberth with 25 years of experience.  She sees individuals, couples, and groups who come in with a variety of concerns, including self-esteem, relationship issues, anxiety, depression, conflict resolution, grief and loss, abuse, and chronic illness.  Amy finds that a common thread underlying many of these issues is the need to create and maintain appropriate boundaries for optimal functioning.

Julie Pogachefsky has been teaching yoga since 2001.  She received her 200 hour teaching certification at Wake Up Yoga and her 500 hour Pranakriyateaching certification from Yoganand/Michael Carroll.  Julie is also certified to teach Yin Yoga and is in the process of finishing her PranakriyaYoga Therapy Teaching Certification. Julie challenges your mind to expand beyond its current ideals and perceptions in order for you to find more space and freedom in all aspects of your life.    

Win Up To $9,000 in Prizes from the Philadelphia Jewish Voice

The Philadelphia Jewish Voice will be giving away a fabulous commitment ceremony/wedding package and other prizes this month! For a chance to win, simply join our free mailing list or update your registration. You can register online at http://www.pjvoice.com/subscribe.htm or sign up in person at the Philadelphia Jewish Voice’s table at the Philadelphia Pride Parade this Sunday, June 12 from noon to 6pm on Penn’s Landing.

The grand prize is transferable, so even if you are not personally planning on tying the knot, this prize is a terrific present to celebrate the union of your friends.


  • Grand Prize: Commitment Ceremony Package ($9,000+ value) including:
    • Commitment Ritual conducted by Philadelphia Jewish Voice Living Judaism editor Rabbi Goldie Milgram.
    • Preparation Sessions Six free hour-long planning sessions with Rabbi Milgram for the couple (and wedding planners, musicians, garment, food and invitation designers, etc. if desired), in person or phone/Skype/webcam depending on availability. Rabbi Milgram will facilitate creation of custom-designed ritual, vows and contract of spiritual commitment to complement your legal documents. These sessions will include spiritual support for your relationship which can be an open non-religion-specific spirituality or Jewish.
    • Wedding Cake designed and donated by Ciao Bella Cakes.
    • $1,000 in Flowers provided by Vandergrift Floral.
    • Dress or Accessories. $150 gift certificate to Paris Chic Bridal Boutique.
    • Honeymoon. One night stay at The Lippincott House Bed & Breakfast.
    • Cocktails for rehearsal party (up to 10 people) by Foodwerx.
    • Hair, Make-up and/or Hot Lather Shave (on-site) courtesy of Jacen Bowman.
    • Pillows engineered for your body weight and size by Pittman Pillows.
    • Photography with images on DVD by Kim Volcy Photography.
    • Five Hours of Party Service to staff your party courtesy of Beth’s Party Service.
    • Entertainment Services for your wedding with DJ and Karoke for five hours from Two Sisters Entertainment.
    • And More…. Additional details will be announced on the Philadelphia Jewish Voice as they become available.
  • Second Prize: Free Yoga lesson from Philadelphia Jewish Voice Art & Culture editor Lisa Grunberger.
  • Third Prize: Two free tickets to Theatre Ariel’s performance of ten 10-minute never-before-produced plays, 7pm this Sunday evening, June 12 at the Bristol Riverside Theatre. This prize will be awarded at the Pride Parade. Please indicate your cell phone number so we can notify you if you win.
  • Consolation Prizes: All subscribers who enter their complete address will be mailing an I read the Philadelphia Jewish Voice” bumper sticker, so that you can show your support of the Philadelphia Jewish Voice.

Details follow the jump.


  • Deadline: June 30, 2011
  • Eligibility: Limit one entry per person. Multiple entries will disqualify you. No purchase required. Staff and board members of the Philadelphia Jewish Voice and the Deal Monitor and their immediate families are not eligible.
  • Commitment Ceremony:
    • The couple must obtain their own attorney and execute any relevant legal documents to secure the flow of your estate and health-care rights under the jurisdiction where they reside. If their marriage is legal where this ritual will take place, then they will need to register accordingly prior to this ritual.
    • If the couple is Jewish, then Rabbi Goldie Milgram must approve or provide the Hebrew language that will appear in your ketubah (marriage contract). The couple must pay and secure their own artist to illustrate their ketubah.
    • The couple is responsible for the cost of Rabbi Milgram’s lodging, meals and transport for the weekend of your ritual from wherever she happens to be in the world at that time to wherever her next assignment happens to be.
    • Rabbi Milgram does not co-officiate with other clergy.

Rabbi Goldie Milgram

Creating beautiful, meaningful, spiritually authentic rites of passage, including Commitment Ceremonies has long been an important part of Rabbi Goldie Milgram’s life as a clergy person and we are fortunate to be able to share her experience with you.
Secularly, Dr. Goldie Milgram has long been a gender-rights activist. She also travels internationally as a teacher of spiritual health and non-profit leadership. She received the American Cancer Society Most Distinguished Couple Award for her work in publication education during a previous marriage where she anchored and invented the first public health talk television for NBC TV 40. She has offered programs under the auspices of the United Nations, Esalen, Rancho La Puerta, the New York Open Center, 92Y, universities and communities world-wide.  Wearing her Jewish hat, “Reb Goldie” as her students affectionately call her, holds a doctorate from New York Theological Seminary and is a twice ordained rabbi – a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and she also holds the private smichah (ordination) of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, founder of Jewish Renewal. Dr. Milgram directs, ReclaimingJudaism.org and is author of numerous works including the first fully gender-inclusive work on Jewish ritual: Living Jewish Life Cycle: How to Create Meaningful Jewish Rites of Passage at Every Stage of Life (Jewish Lights Publishing).
Rabbi Goldie Milgram can be contacted at [email protected]

Good luck.

Yoga and Writing: The Play’s the Thing

— Dr. Lisa Grunberger

What does yoga mean? It comes from the Sanskrit root yuj (pronounce it backwards!) which means to unite or yolk. “But when you crack an egg you break the yoke so it’s really the opposite,” said a little girl at the Children’s Yoga class I was teaching at Limmud Philly 2011 held at the Gershman Y. This might be a tough crowd I thought, when a little boy chimed in: “Or maybe there’s more than one meaning.”

I’ve been teaching yoga for ten years, and “playing” yoga with children always returns me to the uninhibited imaginative world that unites the world of children and yoga.

Sunday was a rainy day in Philadelphia. All my classes begin with sun salutations so we turned to the window that faces Broad Street and we greeted the sun: “Good afternoon sun!” I explained how yoga teaches us to connect with the natural world. “Maybe if we really focus the sun will come out!” “That would be cool,” one boy said.

More after the jump.
What holiday do we dress up and play different roles? “Purim,” they all shouted. What’s the connection between yoga and Purim? We celebrate how Persian Jews were saved from extermination through Queen Esther and her uncle Mordechai’s sechel. What better captures the yogic state of mind then dressing up in costumes to change your habitual appearance? In yoga, we wear the locust mask, the lion mask, the frog mask, as we move in and out of poses.

One of my favorite poses is vrksasana or tree pose. After I taught the kids the basic alignment and reminded them to use their “bunny breathing” (rapid inhalations and exhalations through their nose) I asked: what kind of tree are you? We went around in a circle that transformed into a magical forest of trees: “I’m an apple tree! I’m a family tree!” A shy girl said, “I’m a Japanese Maple, like the one in my backyard.” I’m a “love my
Mommy and Bubby and Zayde tree!”

“You are all amazing. When I ask grown-up yoga students what kind of tree they are, they aren’t as creative as you all.”

“Why, what happens to grown-ups. Ms. Lisa? Are you a grown-up?”

“She’s a yoga-grown-up.”

After cow pose, cat stretch, lion roar, and downward dog pose, we needed a rest, so we sat in a circle in seated cross-legged pose holding hands. Everyone closed their eyes. “Listen to the music of your breath. This is called pranayama in Sanskrit. Can everyone say Sanskrit? Breathe in and out through your nose so it tickles a little.”

The room was strangely quiet and parents who sat at the periphery of the circle seemed stunned in wonder at this silence with sixteen kids in the room.

I often wonder what happens when creativity becomes “grown-up” after a certain age. Teaching yoga and poetry writing to children, I have found that until the age of about 12 or 13, they are spontaneous, gifted and natural yoginis and poets. I have never encountered ‘yoga block’ in a yoga-kids class. Maybe I could unite how to “play” yoga with kids with a course on how to “play” writing with adults?

This is precisely the approach to a class I taught later that afternoon called “Facing the Blank Page, Facing the Yoga Mat.” When we move our bodies on the yoga mat we are taking risks and leaps of rejuvenation. When we are writing, our minds make leaps of imagination. I explained that the Jewish tradition sees the breath and speech as a privileged vehicle for creative expression.

When I wrote my humor book, Yiddish Yoga: Ruthie’s Adventures in Love, Loss and the Lotus Position, I was practicing a lot of yoga. My mother, a feisty Israeli who had passed away years ago, came to me one day while I was in headstand pose: “For this you got a Ph.D. — to stand on your head?” And so my character Ruthie was born! It was through practicing yoga that this voice came to me. I am suggesting an intimate connection between yoga and writing that is well worth exploring.

At Limmud, one woman shared that she had suffered from writer’s block her entire life. “I recently took a long train trip. I just know I have stories to tell inside me, but I’m blocked; they just won’t come out.” I felt her frustration in my own body. It was time to shut the lights and begin the meditation exercises.

After 15 minutes I invited students to open their eyes, take pen in hand and begin to move their hands across the page. “Write about a body part. Give it a voice. If you’re writing about your liver, name it. Is it kvetching? What about it’s neighbor? The only rule here is to keep your pen moving. Even if you’re stuck writing ‘I’m stuck and I hate this class I should have gone to the challah-making workshop or the Dead Sea Scrolls one. Oy. I wish she would stop talking. I wish it wasn’t raining.'”

I’m moved by how brave students are in yoga and writing workshops, pushing themselves to take risks, and get out of their comfort zone. I turned on the lights and invited students to share some of their work. The woman who had expressed such frustration with writer’s block volunteered to go first. Her face was a relaxed glow. She shared a beautiful story describing a train station in clear, vivid language. I could feel her joy, as could others. She had used her writer’s block as a yoga block and found the support to tell her story.

It returned me to my yoga kids, who are gifted with this spontaneous, inhibited joy of discovery. It made me want to rename tree pose, Hillel’s Pose. It seems as if Rabbi Hillel was a great yogi himself. He stood on one foot while explaining the whole of Judaism to a skeptic: “that which you don’t want done to yourself, don’t do to others. This is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary. Go study it.” Hillel was being spontaneous and playful in the face of life’s greatest questions. The Torah is called a “Tree of Life”. “Nu,” maybe the Torah is asking, “What kind of tree are you?” I’m a flexible Jewish bamboo!

Author of the illustrated humor book, Yiddish Yoga: Ruthie’s Adventures in Love, Loss and the Lotus Position (Newmarket Press, 2009), Dr. Lisa Grunberger is an Assistant Professor in English at Temple University. If you are interested in her Yoga of Writing Workshop, Facing the Blank Page, Facing the Yoga Mat, you can contact her at [email protected] She is available for Yoga Kids Birthday Parties, & adult yoga classes in Philadelphia. She is also available to speak at JCCs, Hadassahs and synagogues about life as a Jewish writer, scholar of religion and literature, and her interesting background as the only daughter of an Israeli mother and a Viennese Father to whom she dedicates Yiddish Yoga. You can call: (646) 369-2350.