Thrive

Posted on April 14th, 2012 by in On and Off the Mat

Falling off the Mat: It Only Takes a Moment

Micah Mortali, Kripalu Yoga Teacher and Guest Blogger

We all go through phases in our lives and in our yoga practice. People come to yoga for different reasons: to get fit, to de-stress, to quiet their mind, or to experience the sacred and feel closer to what they consider Divine. In most cases, there is a motivation to improve one’s self, to change habits, or to shift the current trend in one’s life toward something more authentic or positive. You may recall what it was that first drew you to yoga and how that has shifted during the span of your relationship to the practice. You see, as we change and grow our relationship to yoga does as well.

These days I have a full time job running the volunteer program at Kripalu, I am newly married with an eight-year-old stepdaughter and a 15-month-old baby boy. My practice is not the same as it was when I was a single yogi living in a house share and teaching yoga as a sub-contractor. I look back at those days sometimes and remember what my practice was like then: Waking up at 5:00 am, sitting on my meditation cushion with a single candle burning in the pre-dawn quiet, diving deep into my breathing practices and going on rich inward journeys that left me feeling light, inspired, and oh-so-very alive! I idealize those times now in my mind and sometimes I fail to remember the other side of the story, the moments of loneliness and longing that I felt to be a father and have a family.

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Posted on April 10th, 2012 by in Outside Our Walls

Outside Our Walls – Paying it Forward, in Two Languages

Jordan Grinstein, Guest Blogger

During my first visit to Kripalu in the summer of 2010, Kripalu Yoga teacher Coby Kozlowski hit me over the head with what she calls “the cosmic 2-by-4.” “Wake up and get on the boat,” she told me. Her program, Quarter-Life Calling: Living an Extraordinary Life in Your 20s, combined with my Kripalu Yoga Teacher Training, which I completed in November 2010, inspired me to live to my full potential. The Kripalu campus quickly became a sacred space of transformation, and applying for the volunteer program was the next logical step.

Early on in my volunteer semester, a fellow volunteer asked me if I wanted to teach a yoga class in Spanish to Kripalu staff members for whom English is a second language. I responded with an enthusiastic yes. The first Spanish word that came to my mind was estirar, to stretch. My classes for staff, supported by a Teaching for Diversity grant from Kripalu, gave me the opportunity to practice and study so I could comfortably teach an entire yoga class in Spanish.

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Posted on April 9th, 2012 by in Yoga

The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards, By William J. Broad

An excerpt from The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards

Drawing from both scientific research and esoteric wisdom, William J. Broad’s The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards explores yoga’s capacity to lift moods, inspire creativity, and otherwise induce “uncommon states.” An excerpt published in the New York Times Magazine in January examining yoga’s potential for catalyzing injury ignited lively discussions online and in yoga studios around the country. This excerpt focuses on Sat Bir Khalsa, PhD, a Harvard scientist who has worked with Kripalu’s Institute for Extraordinary Living on research projects tracking the effects of yoga on performers, high school students, and war veterans.

In 2005, Sat Bir Khalsa and Stephen Cope from Kripalu recruited 10 volunteers from Tanglewood’s prestigious Fellows program. The five men and five women were aged 21 to 30, the average just over 25. They included singers, as well as those who played the violin and viola, horn and cello. For two months, the 10 volunteers underwent Kripalu training. The options included morning and afternoon sessions seven days a week, a weekly evening session and early-morning meditation session, and vegetarian meals at Kripalu. The investigation also included 10 fellows recruited as controls who had no yoga training.

The results, though not earthshaking, were encouraging, as Khalsa and Cope reported in their 2006 paper.

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Posted on April 8th, 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.

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Posted on April 7th, 2012 by in Nutrition

Turning Point: Q&A with Mark Hyman, MD

Doctor, heal thyself. That was what Mark Hyman set out to do when he was flattened by chronic fatigue syndrome. What he discovered what that information isn’t the solution—connection is.

Q Describe what you do in 15 words or less.

A Empower self-healing by addressing the root causes of illness using food as medicine.

Q Tell us about a turning point in your life.

A After working hard as a family doctor in a small town in Idaho, and then as an emergency physician in the inner city, I was hit with chronic fatigue syndrome. It made me stop, look at everything I had learned, and rethink disease, medicine, and health. That started me on my journey of self-healing and discovery of functional medicine, a powerful roadmap for solving the puzzle of chronic disease.

Q What do you love about teaching?

A I deeply believe that we can each be empowered to take back our health, to learn how our bodies function, the miraculous ways in which they were created, and how to work with them to optimize and enhance their natural functioning.

Q What are you passionate about right now?

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Posted on April 5th, 2012 by in Healthy Living

Smile-asana: The Posture of Happiness

Ever hear a yoga teacher instruct you to “gently turn up the corners of your mouth”? A smile not only affects your mood and the moods of those around you, but it can actually forecast your future. Humans begin to practice this universal expression of joy and satisfaction even before birth: 3-D ultrasound technology shows that babies smile in the womb. Children smile as much as 400 times per day, which is why they’re believed to be the most carefree among us. As for adults, only one-third of us smile more than 20 times a day. We hope the fun facts below will increase your smile stats!

-In a study at the University of California, Berkeley, researchers examined photos in old yearbooks and were able to predict with some accuracy how well students would score on standardized tests, how long and fulfilling their marriages would be, and even how much they would inspire others.

-A 2010 Wayne State University research project looking at smiles on pre-1950s major-league baseball players’ cards found that the span of a player’s smile could actually predict the span of his life. The players who didn’t smile lived 72.9 years, while those who grinned in their photos lived an average of almost 80 years.

-In a Swedish study, researchers found that it’s very difficult to frown when you’re looking at someone who’s smiling. (But we knew this already.)

-Smiling can help lower blood pressure and reduce stress hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline, and dopamine, while increasing the level of mood-enhancing chemicals such as endorphins.

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Posted on April 1st, 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.

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Posted on March 27th, 2012 by in Ask the Expert

Ask the Expert: It’s Elementary: Connecting with Nature Year-Round

In this edition of Ask the Expert, senior Kripalu faculty member and yoga philosophy professor Randal Williams answers your questions about bringing awareness to your outdoor activities.

I like to hike and cross-country ski—what are some ways I can incorporate yoga and meditation practices into my outdoor activities?

When you’re physically active outdoors, it naturally enlivens your focus. When you’re climbing over rocks or roots, walking on slippery or rough terrain, you have to pay attention. This is good for sharpening your mind just like meditation does, along with the added benefit of being physically active.

In my own practice, I like to start out slow and take cues from the environment. If I hear a brook rushing or wind blowing, I’ll stop and listen. I approach the experience with a receptive frame of mind. You never know what you’re going to find, and that reinforces the feeling of being part of something bigger. This mindfulness approach is very much an intervention for calming busyness and stress.

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