Staff pho tos by Alex Lumelsky
Teacher blends ancient traditions
of Judaism and yoga
into a healing mixture.
Special to the Jewish News
ressed in drawstring pants and a tank top revealing
Native American and Hebrew tattoos, Eric Paskel
steps barefoot between dozens of mats rolled out on
the floor, guiding students through the ancient prac-
tice of yoga.
Between instructions about postures and deep breathing,
Paskel offers encouragement and faith. He urges his students to
confront addictions in their lives; to meditate on freeing them-
selves from unhealthy attachments to people, things or ideas; to
live in the present moment.
It's a scene that repeats itself in classes at Center for Yoga in
several suburbs, where Paskel is co-owner and teaches several
times a week. But this Friday night is different:
Paskel's students are arranged in the social hall at Temple Shir
Shalom, and are using yoga to get in touch with the Sabbath.
Rabbi Mike Moskowitz, who practices yoga at the center,
invited Paskel to bring yoga to Shabbat at the West Bloomfield
temple. For Rabbi Moskowitz, yoga and Judaism are an obvious
"Blending these traditions together for me is very natural,"
Rabbi Moskowitz said. "If Shabbat is supposed to be refreshing
our soul, isn't yoga and meditation a wonderful way to spend
some time and give value to Shabbat?"
For the debut service in March, Rabbi Moskowitz opened
with niggunim (religious melodies), and Paskel's wife, Lisa, led a
guided meditation. "We curtained off half the social hall," said
Rabbi Moskowitz, "to give it an intimate feel." He brought in
cushions and yoga mats, and older congregants "who had never
done yoga before" really enjoyed the service.
The first Shabbat Yoga was such a success, Moskowitz sched-
uled it again April 11 and has plans to do them again. Paskel, a
longtime member of the synagogue, is just the person to lead it.
A certified child and family therapist, Paskel, 35, of West
Bloomfield is known for blending spirituality and affirmations
into his unique yoga teaching style. But few know the seeds of
Paskel's spirituality were sown as he recovered from a drug addic-
tion that plagued the early part of his life.
Eric Paskel of the Center
for Yoga confers with
Rabbi Michael Moskowitz
before a Shabbat yoga
service at Temple Shir
Now 35, Paskel will never forget the day he was robbed at gun-
point and bound in duct tape from head to toe, with only his
nostrils exposed. In high school at the time, Paskel was selling
drugs out of a beautiful Bloomfield Hills home while his friends'
parents were out of town.
A gang came to the door armed with guns, knives, baseball
bats and rope. One by one, they beat, robbed and bound Paskel
and his six friends, piling them in the bathroom to suffocate.
Blinded, gagged and immobilized, Paskel struggled for enough
air to survive. At that moment, he could no longer deny that his
drug problem threatened his life.
"I prayed for God to please save us, to give us a chance," he
Still, it would be a long road before Paskel quit "using." As
soon as he and his friends were rescued by classmates, the first
thing they did was drugs.
GURU OF HEALING on page 50