2012
Posted on April 23rd, 2012 by in Yoga

Yoga Nidra: Power Yoga of the Mind

Susan Abbattista, Guest Blogger

One of my favorite vinyasa yoga teachers once said, “If dropping into stillness is the hardest thing for you to do, then that is what you need the most.” And so, sometime around the first frost, I came to Kripalu to try a meditative practice called yoga nidra. Translated as “yogic sleep” or “divine sleep,” this type of yoga focuses on systematic relaxation of the body while the mind enters a state of deep, meditative awareness—like dreaming while fully awake. The technique was developed by Swami Satyananda in the 1960s to make advanced, centuries-old practices of tantric meditation more accessible to everyone.

I’d never done this type of yoga before and didn’t quite know what to expect. One thing I did know: Underneath my blanket, I was an exhausted mess. Summer had passed in a hazy blur of work and play—and, admittedly, too many margaritas. Now here it was, the onset of fall, the hardest seasonal transition for me. I felt myself floating and drifting, a balloon accidentally released from the fist of a child. I needed to reel myself back in.

Over the course of five days, some unspoken guidelines (or pointers) emerged from the darkness:

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Posted on April 22nd, 2012 by in Moment of Quiet

Happy Earth Day

This week, our Moment of Quiet is dedicated to Earth Day.

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Posted on April 21st, 2012 by in Yoga

Get Grounded with Mountain Pose

How we stand, literally—with our feet on the ground—can have a huge impact on how we feel. When we align ourselves and ground in Mountain pose, we access the qualities of stability, balance, and strength. Reconnecting to these qualities can help us as we move through our day, meeting challenges and entering new situations. Try Mountain pose any time you need to ground yourself to find inner strength and peace.

To explore this foundational pose, stand with your feet parallel and three to five inches apart, weight evenly balanced, arms at your sides. Spread out the toes and press evenly down through the four corners of each foot. As the feet firm into the floor, the kneecaps will lift and the thighs will gently engage. Lengthen the tailbone toward the heels and lift the pubic bone toward the navel. Firm the shoulder blades onto the back and slide them down toward the waist. Gently lift the sternum and reach the fingertips toward the floor. Keeping the chin parallel to the floor, lengthen up through the crown of the head, while softening the tongue and the throat. Develop steady, smooth breaths.

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Posted on April 20th, 2012 by in Nutrition

Plants Help Create a Healthy Internal Environment

Meals like the ones found in the Kripalu Dining Hall (and hopefully in your own kitchen)—filled with a variety of plants prepared simply—are strong medicine for the prevention or recurrence of cancer and other chronic diseases. These diets provide rich antioxidant support, cool inflammation, aid blood sugar regulation, and support the body’s natural detoxification processes. All these actions add up to an environment within our bodies that is less conducive to the initiation and development of cancers. This is particularly true for cancers such as breast and prostate, where a dietary link has been clearly established.

Phytonutrient (plant) antioxidants—the carotenoids, volatile oils, and alliums that often give plants their bright colors and bold flavors—reduce the damaging effects of highly reactive compounds aptly called free radicals. Following an active, healthy lifestyle can keep free radicals and antioxidants in balance.

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Posted on April 17th, 2012 by in Healthy Living

What is Qigong?

Qigong instructors Deborah Davis—an acupuncturist and medical intuitive—and Ken Nelson—a leader in mind-body practices who also teaches yoga, meditation, and bodywork—share their personal connections to qigong and discuss its benefits.

What exactly is qigong?

Deborah Davis Qigong is an ancient system of self-healing that’s been around for 2,000 years. It’s a practice that’s meant to help your body heal itself naturally.

Ken Nelson “Qi” means energy and “gong” means to cultivate. It’s an umbrella term for any energy/movement work, such as martial arts and tai chi. Qigong is one of the four pillars of Chinese medicine.

Do yoga and qigong complement each other?

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Posted on April 16th, 2012 by in Outside Our Walls

Bringing the Gifts of Yoga to Inner-City Kids

Ashley Winseck, Guest Blogger

Kripalu Yoga teacher Debbie Cohen has two passions: yoga and teaching children. So when a Boston public school came to her wanting a yoga program for its inner-city students, Debbie was crushed to have to tell them she couldn’t do it.

“I couldn’t afford to go out there and teach yoga, and I felt so bummed about that,” she recalls.

Because she wasn’t in a position at that point in her career to volunteer her time, the idea of a yoga program in the inner-city schools went onto Debbie’s back burner, for another time.

Debbie has been teaching yoga for 15 years, but it was just three years ago that she was able to combine her passion for yoga and her passion for teaching children when she joined forces with Kripalu’s Institute for Extraordinary Living (IEL). Working closely with IEL faculty, she helped develop and implement their Yoga in the Schools (YIS) curriculum, testing it at Waltham High School. But she still felt something lacking.

“I always wanted to be in the inner-city schools,” Debbie says, particularly in the Boston public school system, which so desperately wanted—and needed—a yoga program. To make this dream a reality, Debbie created the Susan E. Tift Yoga in Schools Program Fund in honor of the passing of one of her longtime yoga students.

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Posted on April 15th, 2012 by in Moment of Quiet

Moment of Quiet

Our Moment of Quiet this week is brought to us by Colors In Motion

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Posted on April 14th, 2012 by in On and Off the Mat

It Only Takes a Moment

Micah Mortali, Kripalu Yoga Teacher and Guest Blogger

We all go through phases in our lives and in our yoga practice. People come to yoga for different reasons: to get fit, to de-stress, to quiet their mind, or to experience the sacred and feel closer to what they consider Divine. In most cases, there is a motivation to improve one’s self, to change habits, or to shift the current trend in one’s life toward something more authentic or positive. You may recall what it was that first drew you to yoga and how that has shifted during the span of your relationship to the practice. You see, as we change and grow our relationship to yoga does as well.

These days I have a full time job running the volunteer program at Kripalu, I am newly married with an eight-year-old stepdaughter and a 15-month-old baby boy. My practice is not the same as it was when I was a single yogi living in a house share and teaching yoga as a sub-contractor. I look back at those days sometimes and remember what my practice was like then: Waking up at 5:00 am, sitting on my meditation cushion with a single candle burning in the pre-dawn quiet, diving deep into my breathing practices and going on rich inward journeys that left me feeling light, inspired, and oh-so-very alive! I idealize those times now in my mind and sometimes I fail to remember the other side of the story, the moments of loneliness and longing that I felt to be a father and have a family.

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