With the current buzz around yoga injuries, it’s a good time to revisit the concept of the edge, a core component of Kripalu Yoga. The edge is that precise place in a posture where the body finds its optimal stretch and the mind is fully present. Pushing too far brings strain to the body and [...]
On Monday, December 16, 2012—exactly two days after the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary—I stood outside the doors of Pittsfield High School (PHS) in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. As I waited for the receptionist to buzz me in, I wondered what to expect in my high school yoga class that morning. I was still reeling. My niece [...]
According to the ancient Vedic texts of India, the heart is the source of real feeling and knowing—the very seat of consciousness. Yet we can sometimes keep our hearts so well guarded that true feeling and knowing become inaccessible. The Pali word metta is most often translated as loving-kindness, and the practice of metta meditation helps [...]
As the winter sky becomes darker, we can always illuminate ourselves from within with simple sun breaths. To try: From Mountain pose, relax your belly, then take 5–10 complete breaths using your full lung capacity. Try to let each inhale and each exhale last around six counts. Inhale and slowly raise your arms out to [...]
The following heart-based meditation comes from the Institute of HeartMath, in Boulder Creek, California, and is a wonderful technique to redirect the mind and replace negative emotions with positive ones.
First, get your body in a comfortable, relaxed position and focus on breathing slowly and rhythmically, so that the length of your inhalations and exhalations are about the same. Find a breath rate that feels sustainable for you. Next, bring your awareness to the center of your chest and imagine your breath flowing in and out of your heart center. As you continue to breathe in and out of your heart, remember a time when you felt a positive emotion such as gratitude, joy, or love.
Think about being with loved ones, a beloved pet, appreciation for the good things in your life. This associative memory generates a positive emotion. If you can’t recall such a memory, then simply imagine a positive feeling moving in and out of your heart as you breathe. If your mind wanders, gently return to the positive feeling, allowing the sensations of gratitude, love, or joy to flow with your breath. Continue to circulate this heartfelt feeling for a few breaths, or even for a few minutes. Then pause to notice the effects of the practice.
Goddess Pose, or Deviasana, represents the feminine force that created the universe. Hara is a Japanese martial arts term meaning “center of being,” and it refers to the stomach, or solar plexus, where the body’s vital healing energy is generated. Goddess Pose, in combination with breathing from the hara, is a powerful way to revitalize and renew the body, mind, and spirit. When the body’s hara is clear and open, vital energy can freely move down through the pelvis and legs and into the earth for grounding. However, fear, pain, and anxiety can cause this energy to become blocked. Goddess pose with hara breathing opens up the hips and chest so that power, strength, and energy can circulate freely.
Ready to try it out? Here’s how:
The heart beats in a faithful and constant rhythm throughout a lifetime. To keep the heart nourished and happy, heart-opening backbends can work wonders. Backbends create space for energy to move more freely to and from the heart, connecting one to the qualities of love, security, and compassion. Backbends also enhance circulation, nourish the spine, increase lung capacity, and regulate the endocrine system.
Try a simple, seated backbend to help you open your heart this winter. Sit on the edge of a chair with your feet flat on the floor and your spine tall.
Balance is an important component of being physically fit. Unfortunately, this complex skill deteriorates as we age, leading to falls and fractures. The good news is that balance can be maintained—and even improved—through training and practice. Here are some suggestions:
• Try functional exercises such as walking, climbing stairs, or sitting down and standing up without using your hands.
• Practice yoga, Pilates, and tai chi to strengthen your core muscle groups.
• Include stretching and resistance training in your workouts.
Imagine waking up with the rising sun and experiencing the essence of this most auspicious time of day. The Sun Salutation, traditionally done in the morning, raises one’s consciousness by awakening the mind, body, and senses. The 12 postures in the series effectively stretch, strengthen, and massage all of the joints, muscles, and internal organs [...]
In this edition of Ask the Expert, Kripalu Yoga teacher, Ayurvedic Yoga Specialist, and senior faculty member Janna Delgado answers your questions about the practice of yoga, exercises for the feet, and yoga-class etiquette.
When coming into Upward Facing Dog, how should I be utilizing my leg and abdominal muscles? Also, can you describe where my shoulders and arms should be in reference to my neck and head?
The leg muscles provide the power for the pose, so they should be engaged and active. The strength of the legs also supports the spine and protects the lower back. The knees are lifted and the toes are pointed, with the tops of the feet pressing firmly down into the floor. Maintain an internal rotation of the upper legs—the outer thighs should roll toward the floor in order to broaden the sacrum and prevent compression of the low back.
Core engagement is the other safeguard for the low back. You want to lift the perineum up, and draw the solar plexus in and up. The sacrum and tailbone lengthen down toward the heels, and the buttocks are soft, not clenched. This helps distribute the arc of the back bend evenly throughout the upper, middle, and lower back.