June, 2012
Posted on June 18th, 2012 by in Life Lessons, Yoga

The Yoga of Living: Leadership, Love, and Freedom

Yoga, ultimately, is so much more than Downward-Facing Dog. Rather, it’s a process, the way in which we engage with life, with our experiences, both on and off the mat. Yoga teaches us to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, and with the mystery of life. It offers us a map to help us get on the path of living our lives to the fullest, and finding the leader within—the inner voice that guides us into discovering who we really are.

The yoga of living asks fundamental questions such as:

What kind of world do I want to live in?

How can I create my own existence?

How do I say yes to my life?

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Posted on June 17th, 2012 by in Moment of Quiet

Moment of Quiet

“The highest spiritual practice is self-observation without judgment.” -Swami Kripalu

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Posted on June 16th, 2012 by in Life Lessons

Riding the Waves

How can we suffer less when faced with tough situations? Think about those times when things don’t go as planned or hoped for—at work, for example, or in a relationship. In these moments, we often wish that things were different: “If only _________.”

Sound familiar?

But, as Kripalu Senior Life Coach Aruni Nan Futuronsky states in her R&R retreat workshop Riding the Waves, yoga teaches us that we can’t control reality. But, when we allow ourselves to simply be in the present moment, softening our grip and letting go of expectations, we can begin to open our perspectives.

As Aruni says, allowing ourselves to feel whatever it is we’re feeling with any given experience can help us find equanimity with whatever life gives us. From that foundation, we can shift our awareness from struggling to acceptance.

One powerful way to ride the waves of life’s challenges is one of the benchmarks of the Kripalu tradition. It’s a practice called BRFWA, which stands for Breathe, Relax, Feel, Watch, Allow. Next time you feel anxious or uncertain about a situation you’re facing, try the following techniques and see what happens.

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Posted on June 15th, 2012 by in Nutrition

Nutrition Notes: Eating Locally

“In matters of taste, consider nutrition. In matters of nutrition, consider taste.” Julia Child surely must have been referring to “eating locally grown” when she coined this famous phrase. More recently, Michel Nischan, chef and author of Sustainably Delicious, considers eating locally grown a healthy act of heroism. Not only is eating local good for our planet because it reduces our carbon footprint and supports a sustainable food system, but, undeniably, eating what’s close at hand simply tastes luscious!

Summer is the ideal time to discover the many available edible delights bursting with nutritional goodness. To help you in your quest for local fare, there are a number of resources available on Local Harvest and Farm Fresh that can lead you in the right direction.

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Posted on June 14th, 2012 by in Yoga

Shop Like a Yogi—in Four Questions or Less

I’m allergic to spiritual texts; one sutra and I’m prone to wild swelling of the nap gland. But as someone who’s practiced yoga for 20 years and is a certified Kripalu Yoga instructor, I’ve managed to cram the 10 yamas and niyamas (yogic do’s and don’ts) into my head. I aim, loosely, to practice them. Mostly, this is not a hardship. For example, ahimsa, or non-violence, means taking a breath when I want to say something cutting and offering compassion instead. Bramacharya, moderation, means eating three, and not 20, double-chocolate organic Newman O’s. Satya, truthfulness, translates as being upfront in my relationships. One that kicks my yogic booty, though, is aparigraha, non-possessiveness. Or as I like to call it: non-shopping.

I’m not sure if this is because I grew up in New York City as a double-Aries only child who wants what she wants NOW, or what, but I do like to shop. I’m not proud of it—you’ll never see me with a “Born to Shop” bumper sticker—but I like pretty stuff. I like looking for it, buying it, and wearing it. Usually, it’s clothing that brings me those temporary bursts of shopper’s delight, but I get a similar rush from buying a notebook, hair tie, or a mug with a spiritual message like, “Trust the Process.” Judging by the compliments I get from my fellow yogis on my sparkly TOMS, Lulu hoodies, and Sayta lotus earrings, I’m not alone in the paradox of wanting stuff that reminds me to give back and let go.

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Posted on June 12th, 2012 by in Words from the Wise, Yoga

Finding an Inner Home

I was born in Iran. The political landscape there was not something I agreed with or felt I could change. I came to the United States to go to school. I’ve met many nice people here, but after 9/11, for some people, anyone of Middle Eastern origin represented the face of the enemy. I had many unpleasant experiences. Without knowing my beliefs, people would hate me just from looking at my face or seeing my last name.

At Kripalu, I heard comments from the teachers like, “Thank yourself for being here.” There was the utmost care and compassion for yourself. That’s what I needed to heal myself, the utmost compassion. Also, having compassion for the people who hated me for things I had no responsibility for. I learned to take the seat of the observer, instead of taking the seat of the judge and saying this is right or wrong.

Before Kripalu, any kind of yoga I tried had been bittersweet. There were so many things I couldn’t do. I thought, maybe my body is not made for it. When I came to Kripalu I could see that it’s about doing what’s good for your body. I learned there is no perfect Downward Dog. I began seeing yoga as a way to grow, and it’s okay if I never have a perfect pose.

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Posted on June 11th, 2012 by in Ask the Expert, Nutrition

Ask the Expert: Bite by Bite

In this edition of Ask the Expert, Kripalu’s Lead Nutritionist, Annie B. Kay, answers your questions. An integrative dietitian and a Kripalu Yoga teacher, Annie is the author of the book Every Bite is Divine.

What would you recommend as a good diet for someone who is vegan and has IBS?

I invite those with IBS to try the experiment of eating gluten free as a starting point. Nutritional science research suggests that up to 40 percent of people have some level of difficulty digesting gluten, and if you have an IBS diagnosis, that risk skyrockets. Try it for 30 days. And don’t think of it as, I’m never going to be able to eat my favorite foods again. Think of it as collecting data. Even if you do find you’re sensitive to gluten, most people can tolerate a little bit of gluten.

You may not notice the full benefits for as long as six months, but you may notice a significant difference before then. Then you can determine whether eating gluten free is a lifestyle choice for you, or if you want to try reintroducing gluten. About half of those with IBS who go gluten free find it’s a miracle cure.

What kinds of tea have the most beneficial properties?

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Posted on June 10th, 2012 by in Moment of Quiet

Moment of Quiet

Every Sunday we provide a space for quiet, calm, and peaceful introspection. Enjoy the morning light here at Kripalu on Lake Mahkeenac.

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Posted on June 9th, 2012 by in Words from the Wise

Zen and the Art of Writing: Q & A with Natalie Goldberg

An excerpt from Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within

After more than 20 years, Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones remains the definitive guidebook for those who see the writing process as a journey of the soul. Goldberg broke ground with the book, first published in 2005, when she compared writing with Zen meditation. In this Q&A from the 10th-anniversary edition, she explores that connection.

Q What are the “I can’t write because” excuses that you hear the most?

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Posted on June 8th, 2012 by in Kripalu Kitchen

Foodie Friday: Kitchen-Sink Cooking

“That’s it—I’ve had enough! I, of all people, should not be doing it this way!”

Ever have one of those enough-is-enough moments? As I was once again staring at my refrigerator with its combination of very fresh, slightly worn, and “what-are-you-still-doing-in here?” produce, leftovers, and half-eater jars of miscellaneous mayhem, I hit the turning point.

“OK, family,” I announced. “I will not be buying one more ounce of food until we have eaten every single morsel of what we already have.”

My rant was spurred by my newly instituted budget austerities, and the obvious yet uncalculated cost of what I was about to throw in the garbage. I heard a staggering statistic once that something like 15 to 30 percent of our food budget goes in the trash: sporadically used condiments and half-eaten canned goods; good-intentioned yet left-to-rot produce; the two pounds of this or that “wonder food” that were purchased after reading about its healthful properties in O magazine.

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