2012
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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Posted on April 3rd, 2012 by in Nutrition, Studies, News, and Trends

Vitamins and Antioxidants, with a Grain of Salt

Living in the Information Age means that we’re constantly bombarded with data—much of it contradictory—about our health. A recent example: In a University of Paris study conducted among 2,500 men and women, researchers found that taking fish oil supplements was linked to a higher incidence of cancer in women. But wait: Haven’t we been told for years that fish oil supplements were good for us, acting as antioxidants to reduce the risk of breast cancer, as well as cardiovascular disease?

It’s certainly not the first time a new study has challenged our established way of thinking—and that’s not always a bad thing. But it’s important to keep in mind that many new studies that are released—and reported on—are not complete, says Kripalu’s Healthy Living Director of Medical Education Lisa B. Nelson, MD. A recent study that reported calcium supplements increase the risk of heart disease in women older age 50 had many women eliminating their calcium intake entirely, while other reports about the benefits of certain vitamins or antioxidants, like vitamin D and beta-carotene, have led to dangerous overconsumption.

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Posted on April 2nd, 2012 by in Wake-Up Call

Wake Up Call – Find the Joy

I’ve had wake-up moments in my life that would imply that I was in some manner asleep. Sharing these moments with those I love is helpful in conveying an existence beyond the small world of my teenagers, who delight in knowing the imperfections in their mother. As Wavy Gravy said, we are all bozos on the same bus together. Here goes, my top four wake-up calls:

1. Age eight: I was told by the nuns in catechism school that I, as a girl, could never be a priest. This broke my heart. I decided that church was not the place for me. Any place that does not honor you is not the place for you.

2. Age 20-something: the man I loved shoving me on New Year’s Eve after badgering me about the hundred ways in which I was wrong… in his mind. The next day, I woke up, packed my bags, and left that guy. Any partner who doesn’t see you as manna from heaven is wrong. (That’s a mashup of David Whyte. Here’s Whyte’s original: “…you must learn one thing: the world was made to be free in… anything or anyone that does not bring you alive is too small for you.”

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Posted on April 1st, 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 March 31st, 2012 by in Life Lessons

Life Lessons – Open Your Heart

It’s easy to lose connection with our feelings. In this fast-paced world, with all the responsibilities that we carry, we are often exhausted by the day’s end. Self-connection is pushed to the side in the face of our busyness and the time devoted to others. This is the moment to consider getting in touch with your own heart and reconnecting to your essence.

The center of the body is the seat of the heart chakra, the energy center that contains our ability to give and to receive freely. It’s the seat of compassion and holds within it the more positive emotions of joy, love, and tenderness. When we are too busy to tend to ourselves, we literally shut down our hearts, and our channel for connection and love becomes clogged.

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Posted on March 30th, 2012 by in Kripalu Kitchen

Foodie Friday – Ode to the Spring Cleanse

You know how Italian restaurants traditionally have red tablecloths? The theory goes that red stimulates the appetite and thus patrons will order more food if the dining room has a red décor. Well, I can’t say that I have definitively experienced an increase in hunger in a red dining room; however, I will tell you the three magic words that make me ravenous every time I utter them

Here we go (but please don’t say them too loud): “Fast, cleanse, diet.” Just writing them has me thinking of chocolate croissants; now I’m thinking of a nice dark roast coffee to go with them (notice how I said “them,” not “it”). Mmmm….

I first noticed this strange word association phenomenon back in 1988 while living in the Kripalu Yoga Fellowship in Sumneytown, Pennsylvania. There were 60 folks living on the property at the time and we shared a communal kitchen in which a small team of us would prepare all the meals. It had been decided that the entire community was going to do a three-day raw juice spring cleanse/fast. What a great idea, I thought. Having community support would make it easy. We wouldn’t have any other foods around to cheat with, and since our workload would be lessened we would be able to take it easy and allow our bodies to cleanse.

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Posted on March 29th, 2012 by in Life Lessons

The Sound of Silent Breakfast

In the early morning hours, when the sun creeps in and the symphonic sounds of nature begin their song, there is an air of potency. In a culture obsessed with fast pace and endless to-dos, we are gifted a spacious segment of time every 24 hours when we can choose to begin our day in tune with nature’s grace.

Breakfast—the sacred ritual of breaking the fast of the night cycle—is the perfect opportunity to commence the day with mindfulness and an open heart. Instead of the usual frantic rush of a meal eaten on the go, or with news in the background, or in the midst of a stressful conversation, what would shift for you if this meal was taken in quiet sanctuary? To come into the kitchen, feel the ground below, make the connection with food, and prepare the meal with intent? To sit and take a breath, feel the air above, and offer gratitude for seed, farmer, and cook? To chew one bite at a time, notice your internal dialogue, and make the choice to stay present? All of these inquires of awareness are ones I was introduced to at Kripalu back in 2003 when I started volunteering. Each morning meal at Kripalu is taken in silence: It’s a time to start the day in a mindful space of being.

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