May, 2012
Posted on May 25th, 2012 by in Kripalu Kitchen

Foodie Friday: Ahimsa in Action

This past weekend, on a visit to my soon-to-be mother-in-law’s house, I was remembering my first few years as a newly converted natural foodie. I was about 19 and heavily into macrobiotics. In those days (the mid-1980s), macrobiotics focused on a very simple diet primarily of brown rice, cooked vegetables, beans, and seaweed. Dairy in all its forms was completely out, as was any sugar–except that we were still using brown rice syrup and barley malt as our “binge foods.” Meat was off the menu too, except for the very rare occasion of having some fish.

Imagine my poor mother that first year I came home for Thanksgiving after leaving the nest now in what I lovingly remember as my “macro-neurotic” state.

There I was: refusing the turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy while asking to have the stuffing made with whole-grain bread and saying things like, “Mom, don’t kill me by putting butter or turkey stock in the stuffing! I won’t eat it!”

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Posted on May 23rd, 2012 by in Yoga

A Religious Experience

In yoga, one writer reconnects with the notion of faith.

Like most kids in my middle-class New England town, I was raised Catholic, though in my case it was something of a default option. My parents had both been brought up in religious households but, by the time I came along, they were largely non-practicing. My mother’s strict Irish-Catholic family—so devout (or stubborn) that they refused to acknowledge her secular college education—turned her away from the church, and my father, a journalist, had been trained to follow facts, not faith. While they wanted the decision of religion to be mine, they also sought to provide me with a base from which to explore, a base that would include Baptism, Confirmation, and 10 years of weekly after-school Catholic-education classes.

But while I made all the milestones, I neither connected with nor opposed their meanings. My given religion was never something to think about; it just was. Later, as a teenager, church on Sunday remained important to me mainly because to my parents it was not. (What a rebel, right?) But it wasn’t as if my friends were so pious: The annual Christmas-eve midnight mass was as much about socializing as it was about celebrating the birth of Jesus.

Throughout, no one I knew questioned what we’d been taught. We took the word of our teachers, and our priests, on “faith.” In those early years, “faith” meant believing that if you were a good person, good would surround you; that if you treated others well, you would be treated well in return; that if you followed the Catholic doctrine, you would be rewarded with peace while you lived and after you died. Faith, for the most part, did not include questioning authority. And, for a long time, I didn’t.

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Posted on May 22nd, 2012 by in Ask the Expert, Ayurveda

Ask the Expert: Ayurvedic Answers

Ayurvedic Answers: Ancient approaches to health and wellness

In this edition of Ask the Expert, Larissa Hall Carlson, Ayurvedic Yoga Specialist for Kripalu’s Institute for Extraordinary Living and School of Ayurveda, answers your questions on Ayurveda for better health.

What would an Ayurvedic approach for treating insomnia look like?

One of the most essential things is to create a routine around bedtime. Try to get to bed between 9:30 and 11:00 pm, before the second wind hits, and ideally wake up with the sunrise, between 5:30 and 7:00 am. This gets the body, the nervous system, and the mind in harmony with the rhythm of nature, which is key for deep and satisfying sleep.

It’s also really important to create space between dinnertime and bedtime—give about two hours to digest dinner or that final snack before bed. The same goes for drinks—don’t drink too much water, tea, or alcohol close to bedtime. Generally, avoid drinking anything caffeinated after about 3:00 pm. If you’re feeling depleted, you might try making your last drink of the day be a cup of warm organic milk with a pinch of ginger, a pinch of cardamom, and a pinch of nutmeg—maybe drop in a few soaked, peeled almonds or dates. It’s extremely soothing, grounding, and yummy!

Decompressing properly before bed can really help as well= try staying off the computer, the TV, and the phone for at least an hour before bed to reduce sensory stimulation. One of my favorite bedtime rituals is to massage the feet, lower back, and ears for a few minutes, using warm sesame oil in the cold weather and coconut oil in the warm weather. Another really helpful technique is journaling before bed—or in the middle of the night if you wake up and can’t get back to sleep—to clear out the chatter in your mind and get your to-do list down on paper. I love to write down a gratitude list, too, so my mind is clear and my heart is open.

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Posted on May 21st, 2012 by in Words from the Wise, Yoga

Turning Point: Vandita Kate Marchesiello

Vandita Kate Marchesiello, E-RYT 500, is a senior teacher and faculty member at Kripalu Center and the recording artist on two CDs, Transform, Relax, and Rejuvenate and Yoga with Vandita. Director of Kripalu Professional Associations and Kripalu’s Teaching for Diversity program, Vandita has balanced family, self-care, and a career in yoga and health for more than 30 years.

Q Describe what you do in 15 words or less.

A Practice love, patience, and kindness toward myself and others, at home, work, and play.

Q Tell us about a turning point in your life.

A When I was in my early twenties, I was headed down a path that could have been destructive to my health and happiness. A friend turned me on to yoga, and I fell in love with the physical, mental, and spiritual practices. Now, nearly 40 years later, I am still practicing and teaching, from my own experience, the depth and breath of yoga that can lead to a whole and healthy life.
Q What do you love about teaching?

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Posted on May 20th, 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.

Enjoy sunrise in the Berkshires.

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