March, 2012
Posted on March 20th, 2012 by in Yoga

Reigniting the Spark: A Hip-Hop Group Comes to Kripalu to Refuel and Reboot

I came to Kripalu for the Kundalini Yoga and Expressive Arts weekend with my New York City–based hip-hop and spoken-word group, ReadNex Poetry Squad. We were all in serious need of a rest. In 2010, our group did more than 200 shows, performances, and workshops, spending nine months of the year on the road. To put it bluntly, we were beat.

Much of our work is done with at-risk urban youth: We travel to schools and teach kids about youth empowerment. We introduce them to the concept of using performance art as a form of personal expression. But as rewarding as community work is, it can also become physically and emotionally exhausting if you don’t give yourself a chance to rest.

I got the idea to bring the ReadNex Poetry Squad to Kripalu after my fiancée visited a few times for spiritual retreats. After each visit, she came home regenerated and rejuvenated. That’s what we needed, I thought. For us to be able to continue giving back to the community, we had to take time to focus on our own spiritual development.

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Posted on March 19th, 2012 by in Words from the Wise, Yoga

Words from the Wise: Falling into Place

Jay Karlinski, Kripalu Yoga Teacher and Guest Blogger

It’s a universal truth: We will all fall in life—all of us. Yes, you too. If you can accept this, you are on the right track. When I’m teaching asana classes, I encourage my students to play with their balance until they fall because that’s when the real teaching happens.

I believe asana holds countless lessons for how we live life. We are all going to fall in life, but it’s what happens next that matters most. If we can fall with grace and a lightness of heart, we’re serving ourselves. In class, when you fall out of a pose, notice what the first thought is that crosses your mind. If you find that you’re judging yourself or telling yourself, “I’m not strong enough” or “I can’t believe I fell, I am no good.” take a pause and recognize that you’re reinforcing limiting beliefs.

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Posted on March 18th, 2012 by in Moment of Quiet

Moment of Quiet

Spring arrives in the Berkshires.

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Posted on March 17th, 2012 by in Life Lessons

I Could be More Creative, If Only…

Lori Shridhare, Guest Blogger

If this sentiment sounds familiar, you’re not alone. With dozens of books on the market that help nurture one’s creativity, this movement (as it might be called) is gaining in popularity. Of course, this is not surprising. Who doesn’t want to be more creative in life? Whether you aspire to enjoy more creativity as an artist-in-training or as CEO of a corporation, enhancing your know-how in this area can bring more success—and, most importantly—fulfillment.

As a writer, nothing thrills me more than to experience the fullness and abundance that envelop me when ideas are flowing. Conversely, nothing frightens me more than when I experience what I can only describe as a loss of grounding—when I’m faced with a vacuum. I wish I could provide the magic solution to overcoming the trepidation that strikes when I feel uncreative and out of touch. What I’ve learned is to cultivate patience in recapturing this part of my self. As you search for peace, stillness, and tranquility in life, so too will creativity come. Over the years, I’ve watched my own cycles of ups and downs and have learned to accept them rather than react to them. Just as, while meditating, I attempt to simply observe my mind while it continues to have thoughts, in the midst of daily activities, I’m learning to embrace the universal challenges that come with maintaining creativity.

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Posted on March 15th, 2012 by in Yoga

Reinvigorating a Pranayama Home Practice

Need a refresher course in establishing, or reestablishing, a pranayama routine at home? Here are some practical approaches for planning a regular routine and taking this self-nurturing, transformative practice into you daily life.

Begin by creating safe and sacred space for your pranayama practice. Choose a private place free from interruption and distraction, with good air circulation. If possible, find a spot void of electronics. In good weather, consider an outdoor location (this is my favorite and most frequent choice for my personal pranayama practice). Make it welcoming. Beautify your space with bits of inspiration (fresh flowers, mala beads, statues, photos of loved ones or teachers, sentimental objects, favorite quotes). Have fresh water, tissues, and a journal handy.

Choose a time to practice daily. Pranayama is best done in the early morning and on an empty stomach, but gentle techniques-like dirgha, ujjayi, and nadi shodhana-can be practiced just about any time of day. Consistency is more important than duration, so choose the most viable time to delve into the enlivening rhythm of your home practice.

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Posted on March 14th, 2012 by in Meditation, Yoga

Everyday Yogi: Subway Meditation

A visiting friend riding with me on a New York City subway said, “Wow, I didn’t realize so many people here had a meditation practice.” I looked around and laughed, hard. Indeed, we could have been surrounded by meditating monks using a variety of techniques. Some stared into the middle distance, others had an eyes-shut, chin-down approach, and some riders were fixed on a small gadget, jaws dangling.

Alright, so maybe they were doing the opposite of meditation–checking out so they could be anywhere other than crowded public transportation. Been there. A lot. Eco-friendly as they may be, trains, planes, and buses are simply not where most of us choose to be. Pretty much everyone in transit has a psychic bumper sticker that reads: I’d Rather Be… Absolutely Anywhere Else. This, of course, is what makes these interim spots, these transitional moments, perfect places to practice being present. (Say that six times fast!)

I’ve heard some yoga teachers talk about the importance of these over-looked transitional moments on the mat. Our minds are so focused on lining up the pose just right, breathing with movement, holding, watching our minds, etc. but when it’s time to switch postures we often drop it all—our gaze, our breath, our attuned awareness. That’s why, anecdotally, most yoga injuries happen while we’re shifting from one asana to the next.

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Posted on March 12th, 2012 by in Outside Our Walls

Yoga Goes to High School

I’m waiting in the yoga classroom of a western Massachusetts high school—the site of one of the Yoga in the Schools projects being developed and scientifically evaluated by Kripalu’s Institute for Extraordinary Living. The room is decorated in vibrant student-painted murals and yoga posters, transforming the windowless space, which was once the detention room, into a bright area for mindful movement and self-inquiry. The bell rings and instead of desks and chairs, students filter into a circular arrangement of yoga mats. With upbeat melodies humming in the background, bags and shoes are left at the door. One student, who three weeks earlier came to class with snacks and a cell phone in hand, greets me today with a smile and goes sit on his mat, looking receptive. I assist the instructor by inviting the rest of the group to find a comfortable seat. We’re ready to begin.

It’s no revelation that adolescents today are stressed. Naturally, in a time of physical and psychosocial transformation, teens face the tasks of identity development and belonging—while managing a cascade of hormonal changes. For many, the teenage years can feel like a minefield, finding the precarious balance between standing out and fitting in, trying on values and dealing with the accompanying emotions. The demands of academic and extracurricular achievement, along with decisions about whether and how to get to college, weigh as well. It’s a heavy toll! And that’s assuming there’s stability at home. Knowing that lifelong patterns take root in adolescence, yogic wisdom offers support. Tools to manage life’s challenges and practice self-compassion are at the heart of what’s available.

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Posted on March 11th, 2012 by in Moment of Quiet

Moment of Quiet

Every Sunday, you’ll find a space to enjoy guided meditation, a piece of music, an enticing image, or video that inspires calm.

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