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:
“Who knows what will arise when we watch ourselves?” asks Kripalu Yoga teacher and life coach Michelle Dalbec in her R&R retreat workshop Reflections on Your Inner World. By opening up to the richness of our interior life through meditation and journaling, she elaborates, we can invite deeper self-reflection and self-expression into our daily existence.
Both meditation and journaling create an “open-hearted space of discovery,” Michelle says, by letting things be as they are—not changing, not critiquing, but simply observing and noting our thoughts, feelings, and sensations as they arise. “If we look at a situation long enough through the lens of meditation and journaling, we might be able to shift our perspective on it,” she says.
Do you suffer from anxiety, poor digestion, or lack of focus? When life’s demands overwhelm us, Angela Wilson, Manager of Evidence-Based Yoga Curriculum for Kripalu’s Institute for Extraordinary Living, explains in her R&R retreat lecture Cultivating Inner Strength, our nervous system gets out of balance. Through the practices of yoga meditation, and mindfulness, however, we can build resilience in order to be fully aware of all our experiences.
As Angela explains, there are two main branches of the nervous system. There’s the sympathetic nervous system, which activates the fight-or-flight response in reaction to stressful situations. It’s a hot, reactive state, which increases heart rate and primes the body for action. The other branch is the parasympathetic nervous system, which is activated when the body is relaxed. The parasympathetic supports a cooling, restful and state. It soothes the system, aids in digestion, and can be fostered through yoga practice.