We all know that exercise can help keep our bodies strong and healthy, but can it affect brain function as well? A recent story on NPR highlights research that explores the benefits of physical exercise for mental wellness. Among the findings, scientists have discovered that exercise can contribute to everything from relieving depression to alleviating [...]
To read uplifting books or listen to spiritual discourses is good. But to practice even a little is of the utmost importance. The profound meaning of yoga is understood only by those who study it through regular and systematic practice. The day you start to practice, your true progress will begin. —Swami Kripalu Swami Kripalu [...]
The popular belief is that women have more of an advantage than men in yoga because they tend to be more flexible, but could that benefit also be a liability when it comes to potential injuries? According to a recent article in the New York Times, a 2008 study at the University of Berne, in [...]
Kripalu Yoga teacher Katie Hagel recently discovered that her first American ancestor was born on the Mayflower and was named Peregrine, from the Latin for “pilgrim” or “wanderer.” It’s no surprise, then, that travel and adventure are in her blood. While working as a travel guide in China, Katie discovered yoga. She was usually the [...]
Pranayama (breathing) practices are a great way to cultivate inner heat during the winter. Larissa Hall Carlson, a Kripalu Yoga teacher and Ayurvedic Yoga Teacher, shares three of her favorite warming pranayama practices sure to get your inner space heater thrumming. Anuloma viloma is a variation of nadi shodhana (Alternate-Nostril Breathing), with a short breath retention. [...]
The New Year is a time of transition, when we’re teetering on the verge of new opportunities and possibilities. Simultaneously, we’re experiencing the tail end of 365 days filled with defining, transformative moments, and the imprints of these experiences—be they gains, losses, successes, setbacks—can be most palpable when we reflect upon them this time of [...]
Time-honored techniques to thaw winter’s chill Winter brings the festive sparkle of the holidays; fresh, snowy vistas; exhilarating outdoor sports … and, for many people, lethargy, dry skin, and runny noses. How can we keep up our spirits—and our health—when it’s so easy to let Old Man Winter bring us down? Ayurveda, the holistic-health system [...]
So what are you doing this New Year’s Eve? Watching the ball drop over Times Square on television … again? For many of us, the typical New Year’s celebration can feel like old hat after a while. We start looking for more profound ways of honoring the space between letting go of the old and embracing the new. For those seeking a spiritual connection during times of transition, the world’s wisdom traditions—including Peruvian shamanism, Kabbalah, and yoga—offer rituals rich with meaning.
Shamanic philosophy sees the turning of the year as a time to honor and give back to Mother Earth, and a way of tapping into and acknowledging nature’s cycle of transformation. According to Ray Crist, founder of the Jaguar Path, which fuses yoga practice and the philosophy of Peruvian shamanism, the Q’ero of Peru believe that we’re all shamans—each of us possesses an intuitive power and wisdom that connects us to both the world around and the world within. Rituals empower people because, he says, “through ritual, we can be the catalysts that bring forth healing and change into our own lives.” To celebrate the power of change that the new year brings, the Q’ero shamans perform rituals such as the despachio, an offering of gratitude to Mother Earth for all she provides.
There are many benefits to forward bends, both standing and sitting. They create length and space in the spine, counteracting compression, and their inward nature can promote introspection. Yet forward bands can also be a challenge to many people, especially those with tight hamstrings. Common physical patterns, such as overstretched back muscles and rounded shoulders (mostly likely from sitting in front of a computer for hours) are often exacerbated in forward bending poses.
But as senior Kripalu Yoga teacher Cristie Newhart says in her R&R retreat workshop Forward Bends, yoga can help us dissolve patterns so we can uncover fresh ways of looking and experiencing ourselves. This multifaceted awareness about how we move can help us cultivate a deeper, richer yoga practice, allowing us to discover new ease in our forward bends.
In the workshop, Cristie shares these tips for getting the most out of your forward folds: