April, 2012
Posted on April 12th, 2012 by in Healthy Living

The Big Sneeze

Early spring may sound lovely—early shedding of thick winter layers, early walks on the beach. However, early spring can also mean a sudden surge of allergies, both for longtime sufferers and those who’d previously been allergy-free. According to Ayurveda, that’s because just as water returns to nature—evidenced by all those new leaves and blooming flowers—so, too, does water return to our bodies. And too much water too quickly can show up in the form of runny noses, watery eyes, and congestion, making those long walks on the beach a little less fun.

“When we shift from one season to the next—which in Ayurveda we refer to as ritusandhi—our immunity is especially low for two to four weeks,” says Ayurvedic specialist Rosy Mann, a senior faculty member of the Kripalu School of Ayurveda. Typically, the transition from winter to spring is slow, with gradual changes in temperatures that allow our bodies time to adjust. “When warm weather comes on very suddenly, though, it overtaxes the system,” clogging our digestive and respiratory tracts and inflaming tissue, says Mann. Our bodies then produce even more fluid—in the form of mucous, usually—to flush out toxins.

There’s good news:

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Posted on April 10th, 2012 by in Outside Our Walls

Outside Our Walls – Paying it Forward, in Two Languages

Jordan Grinstein, Guest Blogger

During my first visit to Kripalu in the summer of 2010, Kripalu Yoga teacher Coby Kozlowski hit me over the head with what she calls “the cosmic 2-by-4.” “Wake up and get on the boat,” she told me. Her program, Quarter-Life Calling: Living an Extraordinary Life in Your 20s, combined with my Kripalu Yoga Teacher Training, which I completed in November 2010, inspired me to live to my full potential. The Kripalu campus quickly became a sacred space of transformation, and applying for the volunteer program was the next logical step.

Early on in my volunteer semester, a fellow volunteer asked me if I wanted to teach a yoga class in Spanish to Kripalu staff members for whom English is a second language. I responded with an enthusiastic yes. The first Spanish word that came to my mind was estirar, to stretch. My classes for staff, supported by a Teaching for Diversity grant from Kripalu, gave me the opportunity to practice and study so I could comfortably teach an entire yoga class in Spanish.

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Posted on April 9th, 2012 by in Yoga

The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards, By William J. Broad

An excerpt from The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards

Drawing from both scientific research and esoteric wisdom, William J. Broad’s The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards explores yoga’s capacity to lift moods, inspire creativity, and otherwise induce “uncommon states.” An excerpt published in the New York Times Magazine in January examining yoga’s potential for catalyzing injury ignited lively discussions online and in yoga studios around the country. This excerpt focuses on Sat Bir Khalsa, PhD, a Harvard scientist who has worked with Kripalu’s Institute for Extraordinary Living on research projects tracking the effects of yoga on performers, high school students, and war veterans.

In 2005, Sat Bir Khalsa and Stephen Cope from Kripalu recruited 10 volunteers from Tanglewood’s prestigious Fellows program. The five men and five women were aged 21 to 30, the average just over 25. They included singers, as well as those who played the violin and viola, horn and cello. For two months, the 10 volunteers underwent Kripalu training. The options included morning and afternoon sessions seven days a week, a weekly evening session and early-morning meditation session, and vegetarian meals at Kripalu. The investigation also included 10 fellows recruited as controls who had no yoga training.

The results, though not earthshaking, were encouraging, as Khalsa and Cope reported in their 2006 paper.

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Posted on April 8th, 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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Posted on April 7th, 2012 by in Nutrition

Turning Point: Q&A with Mark Hyman, MD

Doctor, heal thyself. That was what Mark Hyman set out to do when he was flattened by chronic fatigue syndrome. What he discovered what that information isn’t the solution—connection is.

Q Describe what you do in 15 words or less.

A Empower self-healing by addressing the root causes of illness using food as medicine.

Q Tell us about a turning point in your life.

A After working hard as a family doctor in a small town in Idaho, and then as an emergency physician in the inner city, I was hit with chronic fatigue syndrome. It made me stop, look at everything I had learned, and rethink disease, medicine, and health. That started me on my journey of self-healing and discovery of functional medicine, a powerful roadmap for solving the puzzle of chronic disease.

Q What do you love about teaching?

A I deeply believe that we can each be empowered to take back our health, to learn how our bodies function, the miraculous ways in which they were created, and how to work with them to optimize and enhance their natural functioning.

Q What are you passionate about right now?

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Posted on April 6th, 2012 by in Nutrition

Cilantro: 10 Ways to Use the Superfood

Adored by many, loathed by some, cilantro can be used in countless ways to enhance chilly winter days with a tasty, healthful dose of nutrition. Often used in Mexican, Asian, and Caibbean cooking, and rich in minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants, cilantro can provide a healthful boost to many a meal. It’s even considered to be therapeutic. John Bagnulo, PhD, nutritionist at Kripalu notes:

Cilantro is a wonderful herb that has remarkable attributes for treating heavy-metal toxicity. Animal research has shown that cilantro contains molecules that prevent the deposition of lead and mercury in tissues. I recommend eating cilantro for people that have been exposed to toxic levels of heavy metal.

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Posted on April 5th, 2012 by in Healthy Living

Smile-asana: The Posture of Happiness

Ever hear a yoga teacher instruct you to “gently turn up the corners of your mouth”? A smile not only affects your mood and the moods of those around you, but it can actually forecast your future. Humans begin to practice this universal expression of joy and satisfaction even before birth: 3-D ultrasound technology shows that babies smile in the womb. Children smile as much as 400 times per day, which is why they’re believed to be the most carefree among us. As for adults, only one-third of us smile more than 20 times a day. We hope the fun facts below will increase your smile stats!

-In a study at the University of California, Berkeley, researchers examined photos in old yearbooks and were able to predict with some accuracy how well students would score on standardized tests, how long and fulfilling their marriages would be, and even how much they would inspire others.

-A 2010 Wayne State University research project looking at smiles on pre-1950s major-league baseball players’ cards found that the span of a player’s smile could actually predict the span of his life. The players who didn’t smile lived 72.9 years, while those who grinned in their photos lived an average of almost 80 years.

-In a Swedish study, researchers found that it’s very difficult to frown when you’re looking at someone who’s smiling. (But we knew this already.)

-Smiling can help lower blood pressure and reduce stress hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline, and dopamine, while increasing the level of mood-enhancing chemicals such as endorphins.

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Posted on April 4th, 2012 by in Yoga

The Yoga of Burlesque

Image courtesy of Kate Drew Miller.

When I moved to the Berkshires from Brooklyn, I knew that a number of things were in store for me: my new job; plenty of opportunities for yoga; friendships honed from previous visits to Kripalu; and learning to drive. What I did not anticipate was becoming a performer in a burlesque troupe.

Actually, I take that back. People love to manifest things around the halls of Kripalu. They hope for relationships, emotional breakthroughs, job growth. The idea is that if you yearn for something in your life, set an intention to make it happen, and verbalize it, then the universe will provide. Me? I found myself telling folks left and right that one of the things I wanted to create was a co-ed burlesque troupe called Big-Girl Panties.

According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, burlesque is “a theatrical entertainment of a broadly humorous, often earthy character consisting of short turns, comic skits, and sometimes striptease acts”—and it usually does not involve dudes. That’s why the idea of a co-ed troupe was so innovative! I’ve always been theatrically inclined, but this would’ve been something on a whole new level, especially considering that I was starting a whole new life, and ready to explore new ventures. Sure, all my talk of Big-Girl Panties was a good-natured joke, but one that, deep in my heart, I thought might actually happen.

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