2012
Posted on March 8th, 2012 by in Life Lessons

Occupy Yourself

I’m beside myself with worry.

I can see my mother standing at the kitchen sink in our childhood house, her hands immersed in soapsuds, proclaiming this. It was a phrase she used a lot when I was young. How confusing to my childhood brain! There she was, standing in front of me, clearly only one mother, not two. How could she be—beside herself?

I’ve been thinking about this phrase a lot these days, which, according to the Dictionary of Word Origins by Jordan Almond, was used “because the ancients believed that soul and body could part and that under great emotional stress the soul would actually leave the body. When this happened a person was ‘beside himself”.”

Living yoga off the mat seems to be the ultimate coming together of self—the unity, the yoking of body, mind, and spirit—the antithesis of being “beside one’s self.” My mother was speaking her 1950s understanding of how to cope with stress and with feelings. Hers is the model that I learned, the model that today brings me suffering. As 2012 unfolds, I am committed to practicing the ancient and ultimately relevant model of unity consciousness, a powerful and effective way to cope with life. As I come into awareness of what is, as I relax around it, transformation occurs.

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Posted on March 7th, 2012 by in Yoga

Yoga in the Olympics?

When I started practicing Kripalu Yoga around 19 years ago, the main lessons I got were: “Accept yourself, exactly as you are today,” “Don’t compare,” and “Don’t judge—yourself or others.” Those were all messages I desperately needed to hear that deeply planted seeds of healing in me.

The growing movement to make yoga an Olympic sport pretty much blows every one of those sacred tenets to the moon. I don’t mean to jump on the whole yoga-competitions-are-evil caravan—it’s crowded enough—but after witnessing my first live yoga competition the other night I am all a-shudder and need to process.

Just walking in the door to “see” yoga at a theater in midtown Manhattan for the 2012 United States Yoga Asana Championship New York Regional edition last Friday night was odd enough. As a yoga junkie, though, I was curious—what exactly happens at a yoga competition? Who’s got the loudest ujayyi? Who can fidget least in Savasana? Who can keep their bottom ribs arced in Triangle? Those are things I’d want to strive for, at least, since I’ve been told so many times, in so many styles of classes: “Yoga is not about how close you can get your foot to your head” and “Yoga is about moving with the breath” and “Yoga is about dipping deep inside to the place beyond places, where everything,” as my Kripalu Yoga Teacher Trainer Devarshi says, is “eternal, infinite, and whole.”

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Posted on March 6th, 2012 by in Outside Our Walls, Yoga

Outside Our Walls – Kripalu Yoga in Japan

For practitioners in Japan, Kripalu Yoga offers a fresh viewpoint on both yoga and life.

“There’s an emphasis on individuality—what you think and feel are very important,” says Toshiro Miura, owner of the sole Kripalu Yoga studio in Japan. “The mind is not something to change or to deny, but to be aware of and be friends with. That’s a very different way of looking at yoga for Japanese people.”

While living in the United States for four years, Toshiro was introduced to Kripalu Yoga and met Swami Kripalu during Kripalu’s ashram period in Pennsylvania. He returned to Japan in 1981 with his ex-wife, an American Kripalu Yoga teacher, and settled in the small town of Odawara, where they were unable to find a single yoga class.

So they began conducting classes together—she taught, and he translated. “We didn’t call it Kripalu Yoga, but it was the first Kripalu Yoga in Japan,” Toshiro says. Soon he took over the teaching, and taught for 12 years while also practicing acupuncture. Encouraged by Amrit Desai’s visit to Japan in 1991, Toshiro completed Kripalu Yoga Teacher Training in 1994.

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Posted on March 5th, 2012 by in Eco-Yogi

Eco-Yogi: Choosing Green

Reflecting back on the last 10 years of my life, I smile in sweet remembrance on one particular incident that nudged me on a path I never imagined. In 2000, lost and confused, I went back to school to get my master’s degree. In one class, an off-the-wall yet brilliant professor pointed me in the direction of a mindfulness retreat, where I was introduced to seated-, walking-, eating-, and nature-based meditation techniques.

I wasn’t sure what awakened in me after the retreat, but I knew something had shifted. I was no longer satisfied by the surface-level elements that held value in my life. Worthiness from a car, self-love related to money, and constant thoughts of superiority were no longer feeding me in a sustainable way. I recognized what Rabbi Hillel encapsulates so beautifully in his quote, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am for myself only, what am I? And if not now, when?”

It is the practice of meditation, hatha yoga, and other contemplative methods that empowers me to step back, observe, and make more conscious, empowered, and nourishing decisions around what I think, feel, say and do in my life. In this process of stepping back and seeing more, I awakened to my interconnected nature with others as well as the natural world. Today, I find myself infatuated with our blue planet as I recognize that its health is the prerequisite that allows me to live the life I love.

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Posted on March 4th, 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. Since this is our first post in this category, we are sharing an image from our photo library of a snowy day at Kripalu.

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