The Heart of a Revolution A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to study with Noah Levine, the original maverick Dharma Punk, founder of the Buddhist community Against the Stream, and iconoclastic promoter of compassion, authenticity, and joy. Noah began the daylong intensive at Kripalu by discussing his background and practice. As I listened, [...]
Holidays are about friends and family, eating copious amounts of comfort food, and enjoying our downtime. This year, in particular, we are faced with challenges that can weaken our immune system, and generally leave us feeling run-down, or drained. In the midst of holiday preparations we can lose sight of our exercise routines, our healthy eating habits, and our beneficial day-to-day patterns. On top of this, entertaining, late-night parties, and generally getting off our usual schedule can wear us down. Here are some tips for getting back into the groove during holiday time.
Relax! You have time off from work, so make good use of it and enjoy quiet time by the fire, reading books you’ve been yearning to pick up, getting back onto your cushion, and luxuriating in a hot bath. Since we don’t often make the time for self-care, take advantage of this opportunity for relaxation and rejuventation.
The other day at the end of a vinyasa yoga class I did my usual thing of plopping down and gearing up for Savasana with no blanket or sweater to get warm and cozy. Being in a large, chilly room, I sensed that I might need extra warmth but paid no mind. The teacher, Andrew, prompted us to “Take this time to allow the hard work to land, and nurture your self in resting pose.” Upon hitting the deck and doing my utmost to actually get comfortable—doing a brief body scan to relax myself—I lay there wondering why my need to be self-sufficient had, yet again, left me bare-skinned and frigid, trying to relax my shivering bones into Corpse pose.
Being somewhat small in stature, and a good-natured vata/pitta, my tendency is to be high energy and cold most of the time. Andrew started to walk around the room, his soothing voice gently guiding the group into a restful state, and asked anyone who might want a blanket to raise their hand. I pondered his offer and observed myself as I refused to raise my hand, even though I was chilly and unable to settle comfortably into Savasana.
“We don’t see the world as it is, we see it as we are.”—Henry David Thoreau
Do you feel stuck? Do you find that you’re always preparing for the worst? Where are you putting your attention? When we step back and examine our worldview it can lead us to question our belief systems and our perspective. Yoga often initiates this exploration: As we experience being in our body, being in the moment, and fully feeling our experiences, we open to the possibility of being comfortable in the uncomfortable. How do we integrate this practice into our daily lives?
In her R&R retreat workshop Life Is Perspective, Kripalu Yoga teacher and life coach Coby Kozlowski, explores the gift of perspective and how yoga can impact our experiences. Discussing tenets from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, specifically, yoga as “the cessation of the modifications of the mind,” Coby notes that we can approach our experiences as “the observer, the witness, and open to seeing the way we frame our own experience in the belief systems that we’ve codified in our perspective.”
I grew up with TV. I don’t know how old I was when I started watching, but I remember spending a lot of time with Kermit and Fonzie and Jack, Chrissy, and Janet. I remember being ushered to bed after Walter Cronkite shared his mantra, “That’s the way it is.” I didn’t know it as I was growing up, but this ubiquitous watching was embedding a sedentary pattern into my body, mind, and spirit. My parents would always encourage me to “get out” and get away from the screen, and I did this during the day, but I still probably ended up being exposed to two to three hours of TV daily from the ages of 1 to 12. I estimate that I ingested about 5,000 hours of television before hitting puberty.
When I was in high school, I was friends with people who were outdoorsy. Some talked about taking a bike trip in Maine, others of an adventure at sea, and others still of a NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) trip to learn how to rock climb. As I saw photos of their epic adventures, which included cute boys; sun-kissed, wind-blown faces; and bright eyes on a monumental journey, my call to the wild began to take hold. At age 16, I applied to attend a mountaineering course in Montana with Outward Bound. I trained for a couple of months before the trip. I’d been smoking cigarettes so I figured swimming would be a good training sport (yeah, real smart). I swam like nobody’s business, but it in no way prepared me for 14 days of hiking that entailed traversing 110 miles of rocky, barren terrain. When I spent the first day trudging up a slope of the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness with tears streaming down my face and a 60-pound pack on my back, huffing and puffing the whole way, I knew I was in for a rough ride.
Adored by many, loathed by some, cilantro can be used in countless ways to enhance chilly winter days with a tasty, healthful dose of nutrition. Often used in Mexican, Asian, and Caibbean cooking, and rich in minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants, cilantro can provide a healthful boost to many a meal. It’s even considered to be therapeutic. John Bagnulo, PhD, nutritionist at Kripalu notes:
Cilantro is a wonderful herb that has remarkable attributes for treating heavy-metal toxicity. Animal research has shown that cilantro contains molecules that prevent the deposition of lead and mercury in tissues. I recommend eating cilantro for people that have been exposed to toxic levels of heavy metal.