March, 2012
Posted on March 23rd, 2012 by in Nutrition

Sweet Comfort: Replacing Refined Sugars with Whole-Food Sweeteners

Through the colder months, warm, sweet foods feed both body and soul. But with the added sweeteners in much of our food supply, sugar can be easy to overdo. Too much sugar has clear health effects: increased risk for disease, mood swings, added calories, and crowding out nutritious foods. Remember, refined sugar only provides empty calories; it doesn’t serve up healing vitamins, minerals, or phytonutrients.

Sweeten your favorite foods—from pancakes to sauces to desserts—more healthfully with the natural sweetness of whole foods such as fruit, spices, and sweet vegetables. Apples, dates, bananas, prunes, or dried fruit are nutrient-packed alternatives to refined sugar and are great to use in oatmeal and other grain-based breakfasts. The naturally sweet moistness of applesauce, mashed bananas, or pureed prunes can replace some of the sugar in baking as well. Try substituting half of the required sugar with mashed apples, prunes, or bananas and cutting out 1/4 cup of the liquid in your favorite recipe. Or, simply skip the sugar in pies and cobblers. You will be surprised to find that you hardly miss it. Cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, turmeric, and other spices can also be used to warm and sweeten breakfasts, stews, and roasted vegetables

read →
Posted on March 21st, 2012 by in Creative Corner

Creativity Corner

Painting by Mike Watson

“I felt compelled to paint this at a very lonely time. I still attribute the energy in this work to the Creator Spirit.”

Looking for inspiration or a way to share something you’ve created? Here, you can share it with others. Send us a jpeg of your creation (minimum size 640x270px), along with what inspired you. You can send anything from a photograph or painting, to a poem or digital art. We’ll feature one piece a month. Email us at socialmedia@kripalu.org

read →
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.

read →
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.

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

Moment of Quiet

Spring arrives in the Berkshires.

read →
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.

read →
Posted on March 16th, 2012 by in Kripalu Kitchen

Foodie Friday: Moroccan Nights

What do you do when you invite 10 people over for dinner and only have eight dining room chairs? Well, when you’re eating Moroccan cuisine, why not do what the Moroccans do: Get cozy on cushions. Granted, most Moroccans use low tables with their cushions, but after 30 seconds of near panic, I decided to throw a blanket and a tablecloth on the floor, along with an abundance of pillows, and call it part of the dinner theme!

Although my daily diet is relatively simple (I’m a rice with dahl fan), I love taking the time to explore the flavors and cooking styles of various cultures. When my daughters surprised me at Christmas with the gift of a beautiful copper couscousiere (a large double boiler–type pot used specifically for steaming couscous) I knew that a Moroccan dinner party was in my future.

I’ve seen pictures of couscousieres before—the copper ones are especially beautiful—but I never really understood the point; I had always just boiled water, let the couscous soak it up, and called it a day. Why use a special pot that requires you to steam the couscous multiple times? All I can tell you is that this couscous is unlike any you’ve ever tasted! I looked up several recipes before I was truly convinced that the way to use one of these things was to mix the couscous with water and a bit of olive oil and steam it for 15 minutes, then remove and fluff it, add more water, and steam again—then repeat the entire process! The difference? Incredibly light and fluffy couscous. The couscous itself actually had a flavor even before I added almonds, cinnamon, and dried fruit. I’m sold—thank you, girls!

read →
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.

read →