May, 2012
Posted on May 11th, 2012 by in Kripalu Kitchen

Foodie Friday: When Smiling Panda Bears Lie

Lately, I’ve been playing around with a gluten-free diet. I often find that wheat feels heavy in my body, so a gluten fast this time of year often helps me lighten up. Because I don’t have a severe reaction to eating gluten, when I go gluten-free I don’t feel overly concerned about consuming any “incidental” amounts of gluten—mainly I just stop eating bread, pastries, and pasta for a few weeks. That said, during my gluten-free windows, I become more aware of how pervasive gluten is in the American diet and I’m always happy when I see companies making an effort to identify it or make versions of their products sans gluten.

Unfortunately, I also become aware of how the marketing potential of what has become, to some, a fad diet can turn this dietary choice into a sneaky way to pawn off cheap food to the unsuspecting!

Case in point: I bought some pre-made maki rolls from a local all natural grocer. In the Berkshires, we’re lucky to have several great locally owned stores that sell whole foods and organic produce. I went to Guidos, which is a wonderful combination of a main store (with all the basics) accompanied by several privately owned sub markets, much like the old indoor year round farmers markets I remember from my childhood in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

So back to my purchase, and, more specifically, the little packets of soy sauce that came with it. As I often take my makis home, I rarely use the soy sauce provided. If they’re all-natural I might save them for a picnic or travel. If they aren‘t, I simply discard them and wish the store would commit to using the all-natural kind.

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Posted on May 10th, 2012 by in Relationships

Bonding Over Backbends

The self-reflective environment at Kripalu is conducive to teaching you valuable lessons about yourself. But it’s also an amazing experience to share with someone else. The first time I came to Kripalu, I brought my boyfriend, Mike. He’d only done yoga once, but he had gotten a glimpse of its potential to improve his well-being and was eager to learn more. He embraced learning more about his body and his breath as we spent a rejuvenating weekend together eating well, practicing yoga, and enjoying the peace. We were happy to find that Kripalu emphasizes a balanced approach to wellness, not just yoga. I remember the two of us being out on the lake, kayaking, and participating in what we called a floating meditation. It was just beautiful, with the quiet mental space that we cultivated together out on the water.

That weekend inspired us to begin a regular yoga practice together. We found a studio near our house in Boston and made an effort to take weekly classes, making room in our lives for a healthful and rewarding routine. Going to yoga as a couple gave us the extra motivation we needed to keep up a regular practice. We also decided we would like to continue going to Kripalu for R&R retreats when we could fit it into our schedules.

A few days into our 2009 stay, we were relaxed and centered, and decided to hike a nearby mountain. Once we got to the peak, Mike dropped down on one knee and proposed. Even though I secretly suspected that he might pop the question—he kept patting his pants pocket as we climbed—it was still overwhelming and so emotional to hear him ask me.

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Posted on May 9th, 2012 by in Healthy Living, Nutrition

Eating Local Benefits Mind, Body, Spirit, and Earth

Photo Courtesy of Angela Cardinali of Berkshire Farm and Table

The concept of eating local is as old as humankind itself, when hunters and gatherers would naturally eat plants and animals that grew or lived nearby. But with industrialism and the advent of the big box supermarket, where absolutely no food is out of season, we’ve grown accustomed to having whatever we want, whenever we want it: Macintosh apples in humid Miami, coconuts in snowy New England. Now, a growing number of people—dubbed “locavores”—are going “back to the earth,” eating locally-grown or -made food as much as possible.

Eating local doesn’t mean having to get your hands dirty. (Though perhaps the biggest coup for the “eat local” movement came when Michelle Obama announced the groundbreaking of the White House vegetable plot, the property’s first since Eleanor Roosevelt’s WW II-era Victory Garden.) There are urban farmers’ markets and farm-to-table-obsessed neighborhood chefs to help out those of us without gardens of our own. Here at Kripalu, up to 75 percent of the produce we serve comes from local farms, depending on the time of year. So why should you consider joining the local food movement?

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Posted on May 8th, 2012 by in Healthy Living

Prevent Heart Disease with a Healthy Lifestyle

It’s the organ we associate with love. It’s the organ whose beats keep us alive. Let’s face it: the heart is pretty important. And yet more people die from heart disease in the United States than from anything else.

Proper nutrition and exercise are widely known to prevent and reverse the ubiquitous national disease, but social connectivity might play more of a role in protecting that mega-important organ than you think. “A connected life with supportive individuals can literally save your life,” says Lisa Nelson, MD, Healthy Living Director of Medical Education at Kripalu.

Whether you draw comfort from a loving family, a caring circle of friends, a religious group, or a supportive therapist, social connections reduce stress, which contributes to cardiovascular disease. In fact, studies have shown that people who participate in community or religious groups fare better after a heart attack than those who don’t. “It’s not just about taking your medication,” says Lisa. “When you spend time with someone you care about, you relax. Blood pressure, respiratory rate, and heart rate all go down.”

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Posted on May 7th, 2012 by in Healthy Living

Embracing the Unknown: Staying Grounded in Uncertain Times

Renée Peterson Trudeau, Guest Blogger

Are you between jobs, homes, relationships? It helps to learn strategies for sitting peacefully in limbo.

These days, we’re facing unprecedented levels of change, uncertainty, and chaos. In this post-September 11 era, in which economic volatility has become a mainstay, we’re juggling parenting our parents, managing dual-income households, navigating globalization and living farther away from our families, fighting off digital overwhelm, and, in many cases, dealing with fallout from natural disasters.

In addition to all these outward changes, we’re also being called on to transform internally. We are undergoing huge consciousness shifts, and many of us are feeling the call to evolve, and to embrace a new way of being. The majority of my friends, colleagues, clients—and even my own family—are all navigating uncertainty and experiencing some type of transition right now:

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Posted on May 6th, 2012 by in Moment of Quiet

Moment of Quiet: Colors in Motion

This week’s Moment Of Quiet is brought to us by Colors in Motion.

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Posted on May 5th, 2012 by in Healthy Living

What does it mean to be resilient?

In this video series, Kripalu Healthy Living faculty member Maria Sirois, PsyD, shares her wisdom on the topic of resiliency and suggests ways to cultivate it in your daily life. Are you resilient? What does it mean to you to be flexible?      

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Posted on May 4th, 2012 by in Nutrition

Coconut Water: Worth the Hype?

The coconut water hype. Yogi essential or overblown fad?

The country is experiencing a specialty beverage bonanza, with customers snapping up “functional” drinks and enhanced waters that promise to deliver better health and well-being. Coconut water has been touted as the “natural” alternative to such drinks, which are often filled with sugar or artificial sweeteners. As more and more yoga teachers are heard ending class with directives to “go home and drink your coconut water,” legions of devotees are happily shelling out up to $3 for an 11 ounce serving of the water, which is available everywhere from corner bodegas to mainstream supermarkets, yoga studios to gyms. Hollywood’s in on it, too: Spokespeople for and investors in the most popular brands—Vita Coco, O.N.E., and Zico—include Demi Moore, Matthew McConaughey, and pop singer Rhianna, as well as professional athletes like baseball player Alex Rodriguez and Celtics player Kevin Garnett. But is coconut water really better for you than regular water?

An 11-ounce container of coconut water (approximately the amount of water contained in the center of a single coconut, and not to be confused with coconut milk, which is derived from the meat of the fruit) is said to have 15 times more electrolytes—namely, sodium, potassium, and magnesium—than the average sports drink, with only about 60 calories per serving and no added sugar or fat. Electrolytes, which are lost through excessive sweating, allow cells to generate energy and move fluids throughout the body and are thus essential to muscle and nerve function. That’s why electrolytes are supplemented to sports drinks like Gatorade.

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Posted on May 3rd, 2012 by in Healthy Living

Turning Point: Q & A with Chris Martenson, PhD, MBA

Turning Point: Chris Martenson

Chris Martenson, PhD, MBA, is an economic researcher and futurist specializing in energy and resource depletion. He was one of the early econobloggers who forecasted the housing market collapse and stock market correction. Chris and his wife, Becca, are at Kripalu June 29–July 1 to teach Peak Prosperity, based on Chris’ seminal video seminar, The Crash Course.

Q Describe what you do in 15 words or less.

A I am creating a world worth inheriting, which begins by helping individuals build physical, financial, and emotional resilience in their lives.

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Posted on May 2nd, 2012 by in Words from the Wise

Beginner’s Mind

“The beginner’s mind is the mind that faces life like a small child, full of curiosity, wonder, and amazement.”

–Anonymous

At age 16, when I learned how to drive, my dad insisted that I start with a standard/stick shift. Although I had resistance at first, I warmed up to the idea and have been driving a standard ever since. I’ve owned my current car, a Honda Civic Hybrid, since 2004 and love its zippy yet eco-friendly nature. The other day, while backing out of a parking spot, I encountered a familiar problem: trying to put the stick shift into reverse was literally sticky. I usually take the gear to first then back toward reverse a few times and the problem clears up. I always assumed it was simply due to my car getting old but, as it tends to happen, a new lesson just was around the corner.

My friend Katie was in the car with me and advised that I let go of the clutch and then draw the stick shift back into reverse. It worked like a charm and I thought to myself, ‘Are you kidding me? I’ve been battling this #@** gear for years, and all I had to do was reset the clutch!?’ I was also thankful for the tip and thought about what a beautiful example it was of the benefits of employing a beginner’s open mindset.

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