Kabbalah Yoga: Ambitious Beginners and Attainable Advanced, DVDs released in 2005 by veteran fitness video producer Kevin Weaver, present themselves as novel spiritual mergers, joining the titular traditions “for the first-time ever.” But given that this conjunction was espoused by Aleister Crowley in 1938, what of the combination is new? Again, with solid precedent, each of the terms “kabbalah” and “yoga” are comprised of further, obscured, conjunctions. “Yoga” here, as on most widely marketed Yoga DVD cases, books, and studios, refers to “Modern Postural Yoga,” a blend of uncited but often historically discrete hatha yoga postures, peppered with “very basic and polyvalent suggestions concerning the religio-philosophical underpinnings of their practices” (de Michelis, 187). So "yoga" is multiple in a way that will surprise noone with a gym membership. But the “kabbalah” visible in the final postures, the instructors' red strings, the chanting of shal-om, and the disks' two textual introductions, not only blends divergent strains of contemporary kabbalah, but shines a clear light on the religious creativity empowered by the combination of DVD technology and contemporary branding practices.
If the inquisitive student clicks on the "What is Kabbalah?" lectures, she encounters something peculiar. Though they are presented as “English” and “Spanish versions” of a single lecture, their contents resist combination. In the English introduction, Rabbi Max Weiman (of www.kabbalahmadeeasy.com) roots kabbalah in what he calls “traditional Judaism.” As to "Who is Kabbalah for,” Weiman is fairly unequivocal: “Anyone who sincerely wants to join Israel by converting may do so.” This is not only different from, but in explicit contradiction with the answer to “What is Kabbalah?” in the Spanish texts licensed from the Kabbalah Centre, two clicks away on the disc. In Spanish, kabbalah is for all people, irrespective of religion. In fact, Jews only appear among the nebulous religious authorities from whom the Centre is liberating kabbalah, “your rabbi, priest, shaman, lama, guru, shrink & aerobics instructor [who] never told you” about kabbalah, and the “most rabbis” who were terrified of, and thus suppressed, kabbalah in the Centre's patent historical narrative.
So, when you “Feel the Kabbalah Yoga energy,” what are you feeling? This kabbalah is paradoxical, being simultaneously specifically Jewish and explicitly universal. Perhaps, despite crossed licenses, you can feel the Kabbalah Centre's 2001 trademark on "Kabbalah."