Every Sunday, you’ll find a space to enjoy guided meditation, a piece of music, an enticing image, or video that inspires calm.
Many of us have watershed moments in our lives, when everything changes. For holistic health coach and natural-foods chef Andrea Beaman, that moment came when she witnessed her mother undergoing treatment for breast cancer.
Q Describe what you do in 15 words or less.
A I teach people how to achieve vibrant health through diet and lifestyle choices.
Q Tell us about a turning point in your life.
A Witnessing the devastating effects of chemotherapy and radiation on my mother’s breast cancer. The destruction of her body planted the idea in me that there was something terribly amiss with our modern treatments of disease. Five years after my mother’s death, I was diagnosed with incurable thyroid disease. I refused the treatment recommended and instead improved my diet, lifestyle, and consciousness. It took time and patience, but my condition healed. Since that time, I’ve been teaching others how to naturally heal their physical, emotional, and spiritual conditions.
Q What do you love about teaching?
Kripalu Nutritionist Kathie Madonna Swift, MS, RD, LDN shares her wisdom on all things food-related in this series focusing on nutrition and healthy digestion. FODMAPs sounds like it might be the latest automobile GPS navigation system or weather radar detection unit. Instead, FODMAPS is a therapeutic eating plan that has been gaining ground as an effective protocol to help people who are suffering with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
I’m beside myself with worry.
I can see my mother standing at the kitchen sink in our childhood house, her hands immersed in soapsuds, proclaiming this. It was a phrase she used a lot when I was young. How confusing to my childhood brain! There she was, standing in front of me, clearly only one mother, not two. How could she be—beside herself?
I’ve been thinking about this phrase a lot these days, which, according to the Dictionary of Word Origins by Jordan Almond, was used “because the ancients believed that soul and body could part and that under great emotional stress the soul would actually leave the body. When this happened a person was ‘beside himself”.”
Living yoga off the mat seems to be the ultimate coming together of self—the unity, the yoking of body, mind, and spirit—the antithesis of being “beside one’s self.” My mother was speaking her 1950s understanding of how to cope with stress and with feelings. Hers is the model that I learned, the model that today brings me suffering. As 2012 unfolds, I am committed to practicing the ancient and ultimately relevant model of unity consciousness, a powerful and effective way to cope with life. As I come into awareness of what is, as I relax around it, transformation occurs.
When I started practicing Kripalu Yoga around 19 years ago, the main lessons I got were: “Accept yourself, exactly as you are today,” “Don’t compare,” and “Don’t judge—yourself or others.” Those were all messages I desperately needed to hear that deeply planted seeds of healing in me.
The growing movement to make yoga an Olympic sport pretty much blows every one of those sacred tenets to the moon. I don’t mean to jump on the whole yoga-competitions-are-evil caravan—it’s crowded enough—but after witnessing my first live yoga competition the other night I am all a-shudder and need to process.
Just walking in the door to “see” yoga at a theater in midtown Manhattan for the 2012 United States Yoga Asana Championship New York Regional edition last Friday night was odd enough. As a yoga junkie, though, I was curious—what exactly happens at a yoga competition? Who’s got the loudest ujayyi? Who can fidget least in Savasana? Who can keep their bottom ribs arced in Triangle? Those are things I’d want to strive for, at least, since I’ve been told so many times, in so many styles of classes: “Yoga is not about how close you can get your foot to your head” and “Yoga is about moving with the breath” and “Yoga is about dipping deep inside to the place beyond places, where everything,” as my Kripalu Yoga Teacher Trainer Devarshi says, is “eternal, infinite, and whole.”
For practitioners in Japan, Kripalu Yoga offers a fresh viewpoint on both yoga and life.
“There’s an emphasis on individuality—what you think and feel are very important,” says Toshiro Miura, owner of the sole Kripalu Yoga studio in Japan. “The mind is not something to change or to deny, but to be aware of and be friends with. That’s a very different way of looking at yoga for Japanese people.”
While living in the United States for four years, Toshiro was introduced to Kripalu Yoga and met Swami Kripalu during Kripalu’s ashram period in Pennsylvania. He returned to Japan in 1981 with his ex-wife, an American Kripalu Yoga teacher, and settled in the small town of Odawara, where they were unable to find a single yoga class.
So they began conducting classes together—she taught, and he translated. “We didn’t call it Kripalu Yoga, but it was the first Kripalu Yoga in Japan,” Toshiro says. Soon he took over the teaching, and taught for 12 years while also practicing acupuncture. Encouraged by Amrit Desai’s visit to Japan in 1991, Toshiro completed Kripalu Yoga Teacher Training in 1994.
Reflecting back on the last 10 years of my life, I smile in sweet remembrance on one particular incident that nudged me on a path I never imagined. In 2000, lost and confused, I went back to school to get my master’s degree. In one class, an off-the-wall yet brilliant professor pointed me in the direction of a mindfulness retreat, where I was introduced to seated-, walking-, eating-, and nature-based meditation techniques.
I wasn’t sure what awakened in me after the retreat, but I knew something had shifted. I was no longer satisfied by the surface-level elements that held value in my life. Worthiness from a car, self-love related to money, and constant thoughts of superiority were no longer feeding me in a sustainable way. I recognized what Rabbi Hillel encapsulates so beautifully in his quote, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am for myself only, what am I? And if not now, when?”
It is the practice of meditation, hatha yoga, and other contemplative methods that empowers me to step back, observe, and make more conscious, empowered, and nourishing decisions around what I think, feel, say and do in my life. In this process of stepping back and seeing more, I awakened to my interconnected nature with others as well as the natural world. Today, I find myself infatuated with our blue planet as I recognize that its health is the prerequisite that allows me to live the life I love.
Every Sunday, you’ll find a space to enjoy guided meditation, a piece of music, an enticing image, or video that inspires calm. Since this is our first post in this category, we are sharing an image from our photo library of a snowy day at Kripalu.
In this excerpt from her book The Prosperity Plan: Ten Steps to Beating the Odds and Creating Extraordinary Wealth (and Happiness), life coach and sought-after speaker Laura Berman Fortgang offers her interpretation of right livelihood, along with suggestions for discovering what it is you’re meant to do.
I don’t believe there is only one form that your right livelihood, passion, or purpose must take. There are many ways that it can be expressed. What has become clear to me after years of working with people so that they may recognize their purpose and right work is that it is not a matter of one project, passion, or job; rather, it is a way of being, a talent, a unique attribute you have that cannot be repeated by anyone, because no one else can be you. And that quality or strength expressed through you can fit into a myriad of job descriptions.
Ultimately, it is not what you do that will make you happy but how you feel when you are doing it. Who it allows you to be is the secret to the joy.
Chances are, there is a theme that has followed you throughout your life and through different jobs. Until it is discovered, named, and brought into your awareness, it will never register with you as being important. When you identify it, name it, and see how it has always been a part of you, you will have confirmation that you are supposed to amplify that part of yourself and allow it to be the criterion for your choice of work.
From Italy with Love…
TGIFF! Thank God, it’s Foodie Friday! What better way to gear up for the weekend then to talk about food? OK, so I’ll admit it: As a chef and certified foodie, I consider any day a good day to talk food. That said, we decided to give it a special focus every Friday, so hopefully you’ll join me and my fellow Kripalu foodies as we share our love of all things edible.
For me, the wonder of food really blossoms through the individual people who enter into relationships with it, from farmers to cooks to the diners whose senses are filled with foods’ amazing smells, sights, and tastes. Through these relationships, we can reap the benefits of not only physical health, but also of deep joy and connectedness.
I was reminded of this last weekend during a visit with my oldest daughter, Rhea, who is a sophomore at Union College. Rhea is lucky to be living in a big house on campus with a wonderfully large kitchen. Since I only had a few hours to be with her, I wanted to make the most of it. What better way to connect and say I love you than by cooking together? We would be doing something we love to do, plus making enough for her boyfriend, Charlie, and her best friend, Ilyena, to enjoy. (I was also heading off to a potluck that evening so I decided to do a bit of double duty and prep for that as well.) Hmmm… what to make that was healthful, comfort food? My choice was obvious, one of Rhea’s favorites: Butternut Squash Lasagna!