Anyone else feeling stuck? It isn’t quite winter anymore, and it sure isn’t spring yet. I feel caught in this pause between seasons, when the natural world seems to hold its breath before exhaling the buds of spring into life. My instinct is to squirm and to get cranky: I want spring! A wise friend suggested I use this time to make peace with what is, to practice acceptance, while gently holding on to hope. The cranky side of me wanted to roll her eyes, but deep down I knew this was sage advice. What would it feel like to stand in that place? Mountain pose was extremely helpful. So was writing. Try this: Spend 15 minutes writing about what you need to accept in your life, for now. In a strange way, I found that accepting things as they are helped me feel more free and grounded. I’m still looking forward to spring, but I’m noticing more how wonderful life is right here and now.
Enjoy the pause,
Jennifer Young, Director, Kripalu Healthy Living immersion programs
nutrition notes plants help create a healthy internal environment
By Annie B. Kay, Nutritionist
Meals like the ones found in the Kripalu Dining Hall (and hopefully in your own kitchen)—filled with a variety of plants prepared simply—are strong medicine for the prevention or recurrence of cancer and other chronic diseases. These diets provide rich antioxidant support, cool inflammation, aid blood sugar regulation, and support the body’s natural detoxification processes. All these actions add up to an environment within our bodies that is less conducive to the initiation and development of cancers. This is particularly true for cancers such as breast and prostate, where a dietary link has been clearly established.
Phytonutrient (plant) antioxidants—things like carotenoids, volatile oils and alliums that often give plants their bright colors and bold flavors—reduce the damaging effects of highly reactive compounds aptly called free radicals. Following an active, healthy lifestyle can keep free radicals and antioxidants in balance.
Enhance your internal environment by following a plant-based diet that includes 9–13 servings of colorful fruits and vegetables. If nine servings is too daunting, begin where you are and slowly increase your plant-based choices as you clip processed foods and animal proteins and fats out of your daily fare.
For a phyto-rich breakfast, try this smoothie packed with fiber, plant protein, and nutrients:
1 cup berries (fresh or frozen)
1 tablespoon almond butter
1/4 cup water or unsweetened juice
1 tablespoon hempseed powder (available at health-food stores)
Handful of organic baby spinach
Love and good intentions for the day
Blend well and enjoy.
life lessons the power of pause
By Aruni Nan Futuronsky, Senior Life Coach
Yogic philosophy teaches us that there is inherent balance between the body, the mind, and the spirit. This unity is our birthright. Unfortunately, as we “grow up,” our minds gain strength and overwhelm these other aspects of ourselves. The mind thinks it is in charge, and tries to run the show—it overpowers the body. And the connection to the spirit often becomes a mere whisper.
Quieting the mind, becoming present in the moment, experiencing what is rather than trying to create what might be or remaining stuck in what was, are the doorways to freedom from the busy mind. Our minds need to be trained to be an effective ally. It is our responsibility to quiet the mind by entering into the moment—the power of that pause is profound.
Here are some simple yet effective suggested practices to bring the power of pause into your daily life:
- At every red light, take three deep breathes. Relax and notice your moment.
- Set your phone or a timer for a certain time each day. When it rings, breathe, relax. Consider this moment fully yours.
- Practice standing meditation. At some point during the day (at the water cooler, at the printer, after running an errand) feel your feet on the floor. Let your body gently sway from front to back, from side to side. Come back to center. Feel your body on the earth.
Enjoy your practice of pausing into presence. Let this practice be a mindful experiment, without right or wrong, without effort or struggle. Relax and simply watch.
yoga practice get grounded with mountain pose
By Janna Delgado, Yoga Teacher and Personal Trainer
How we stand, literally—with our feet on the ground—can have a huge impact on how we feel. When we align ourselves and ground in Mountain pose, we access the qualities of stability, balance, and strength. Reconnecting to these qualities can help us as we move through our day, meeting challenges and entering new situations. Try Mountain pose any time you need to ground yourself to find inner strength and peace.
To explore this foundational pose, stand with your feet parallel and three to five inches apart, weight evenly balanced, arms at your sides. Spread out the toes and press evenly down through the four corners of each foot. As the feet firm into the floor, the kneecaps will lift and the thighs will gently engage. Lengthen the tailbone toward the heels and lift the pubic bone toward the navel. Firm the shoulder blades onto the back and slide them down toward the waist. Gently lift the sternum and reach the fingertips toward the floor. Keeping the chin parallel to the floor, lengthen up through the crown of the head, while softening the tongue and the throat. Develop steady, smooth breaths.
Hold Mountain pose for one or two minutes as you breathe consciously. Consider how this posture differ from your usual stance. To come out of the pose take a deep breath in and release as you exhale. Notice how you feel as your body returns to its usual alignment.
healthy living immersion program radiance: create an amazing life after cancer
Life after cancer can feel vulnerable and uncertain. It is also a powerful time to explore what you really want your life to be and to start taking action to create that life. That’s what this program is all about. Led by senior Kripalu faculty member Maria Sirois, this program helps you start crafting an amazing life for yourself during a week of deep learning and practicing self-care, sharing and laughing, and strengthening body, mind, and spirit. This transformational retreat is for men and women who are ready to dive in and create an amazing life full of healing and joy.
Find out more about Radiance: Create An Amazing Life After Cancer, and watch a video of Maria discussing the program in detail.
healing arts highlight the healing power of touch: kripalu restorative massage
This soothing, full-body Restorative Massage enhances the integration of body, mind, and spirit. Guided breath awareness and a meditative focus on physical sensation stimulate energy to flow throughout the body and release tension. Using a variety of techniques, including Swedish massage, our therapists will adapt their style to give you the massage you desire.
Here, Ashley Winseck, one of Kripalu’s editors, describes her Restorative Massage:
After a particularly busy, crazy work day, this Restorative Massage was, quite literally, exactly what I needed. The cool room and low lighting was immediately soothing. My therapist guided me into slow, gentle breathing that calmed my wired, tired body, and I relaxed all the way down into the massage table
Find out more about the Restorative Massage and Kripalu’s other bodywork services (and read the rest of Ashley’s experience).