Reading with Be’chol Lashon: I Am the Tree of Life: My Jewish Yoga Book

Be’chol Lashon Review

The Torah is called the Tree of Life. Just as a tree is always growing and changing, the Torah’s ideas can help us grow and change, too. Yoda can do the same. Both can help us strengthen ourselves, calm our minds, and learn to appreciate the world around us. Written by rabbi and certified yoga instructor Mychal Copeland, I Am the Tree of Life encourages us to explore both the world of yoga and the stories of the Bible and find meaning in both.

If children had to list their favorite Biblical characters, they might not mention “the snake that slithered in front of Pharaoh” or “the giant fish that swallowed Jonah” or “a thirsty camel that drank from Rebekah’s water pitcher,” but all of those animals are featured in this picture book and match up perfectly with yoga positions. 

“Take a deep breath in . . . I am the giant fish that swallowed Jonah . . . and exhale slowly.”

Each page of the book showcases multiracial characters and Torah, along with an illustrated lesson in yoga. “Feel the stories of the Torah come to life within you. I am the Tree of Life.”

Discussion Questions

For Kids

  1. The Torah teaches us that the human body is like a tree in a field? How are you similar to a tree? How are you different?
  2. In our Jewish story of the creation of the world, the moon is created on the fourth day. What would it feel like to be the moon reflecting the sun’s light? Try to picture what the earth would look like from up above.
  3. Noah built a gigantic boat for his family and all the animals before the great flood. Can you imagine yourself as the ark, keeping everyone safe even though the waters are rough?
  4. When you are worried, what can you do to calm yourself? When do you feel peaceful?
  5. Do you know other Torah stories that you could imagine forming with your body?

For Parents

  1. What would it look like to celebrate our own and others’ bodies as divinely created vessels? How can we teach our kids to see the Divine in themselves, and in every other person? How might seeing ourselves and others in this way affect the way we interact with people in our daily lives on the street or on video?
  2. Can you think of a time when your emotional state affected how you felt in your body? And when a physical ailment affected your emotions more than you expected it would? When you are tense, do you know where in your body you hold that stress?
  3. Have you inherited trauma from your family or from your people? Likewise, have you inherited techniques for healing and resilience?
  4. Have you seen family or community using soothing techniques like rocking, humming, chanting, swaying or tapping? What did you think when you witnessed it? 
  5. Did you see yourself represented in children’s books when you were young?
  6. If you have kids, have they been worried about the world this year? Could you imagine an embodied practice like meditation, humming or yoga helping them (or you) during this time?

Yoga with Rabbi Mychal

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