Healthy Living

Get inspired by stories on ways to maximize your health, have more energy, and live more fully.

Posted on May 8th, 2012 by in Healthy Living

Prevent Heart Disease with a Healthy Lifestyle

It’s the organ we associate with love. It’s the organ whose beats keep us alive. Let’s face it: the heart is pretty important. And yet more people die from heart disease in the United States than from anything else.

Proper nutrition and exercise are widely known to prevent and reverse the ubiquitous national disease, but social connectivity might play more of a role in protecting that mega-important organ than you think. “A connected life with supportive individuals can literally save your life,” says Lisa Nelson, MD, Healthy Living Director of Medical Education at Kripalu.

Whether you draw comfort from a loving family, a caring circle of friends, a religious group, or a supportive therapist, social connections reduce stress, which contributes to cardiovascular disease. In fact, studies have shown that people who participate in community or religious groups fare better after a heart attack than those who don’t. “It’s not just about taking your medication,” says Lisa. “When you spend time with someone you care about, you relax. Blood pressure, respiratory rate, and heart rate all go down.”

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Posted on May 7th, 2012 by in Healthy Living

Embracing the Unknown: Staying Grounded in Uncertain Times

Renée Peterson Trudeau, Guest Blogger

Are you between jobs, homes, relationships? It helps to learn strategies for sitting peacefully in limbo.

These days, we’re facing unprecedented levels of change, uncertainty, and chaos. In this post-September 11 era, in which economic volatility has become a mainstay, we’re juggling parenting our parents, managing dual-income households, navigating globalization and living farther away from our families, fighting off digital overwhelm, and, in many cases, dealing with fallout from natural disasters.

In addition to all these outward changes, we’re also being called on to transform internally. We are undergoing huge consciousness shifts, and many of us are feeling the call to evolve, and to embrace a new way of being. The majority of my friends, colleagues, clients—and even my own family—are all navigating uncertainty and experiencing some type of transition right now:

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Posted on May 5th, 2012 by in Healthy Living

What does it mean to be resilient?

In this video series, Kripalu Healthy Living faculty member Maria Sirois, PsyD, shares her wisdom on the topic of resiliency and suggests ways to cultivate it in your daily life. Are you resilient? What does it mean to you to be flexible?      

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Posted on May 3rd, 2012 by in Healthy Living

Turning Point: Q & A with Chris Martenson, PhD, MBA

Turning Point: Chris Martenson

Chris Martenson, PhD, MBA, is an economic researcher and futurist specializing in energy and resource depletion. He was one of the early econobloggers who forecasted the housing market collapse and stock market correction. Chris and his wife, Becca, are at Kripalu June 29–July 1 to teach Peak Prosperity, based on Chris’ seminal video seminar, The Crash Course.

Q Describe what you do in 15 words or less.

A I am creating a world worth inheriting, which begins by helping individuals build physical, financial, and emotional resilience in their lives.

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Sitting Pretty: Not So Much

Forget baseball. Researchers say America has a new favorite pastime: sitting.

Various studies show that Americans spend, on average, eight hours a day on our rear ends, and the effects aren’t good: A study published last month in the Archives of Internal Medicine—and corroborated recently by a similar study out of Finland—reported that the longer men and women sat every day, the greater their chance of dying prematurely, even if they spent at least part of that day working out. It’s one reason Dr. David Agus argues in The End of Illness that a sitting habit may be worse than a smoking habit.

“The body is a mechanism of movement, so prolonged sitting without breaks is very hard to sustain without consequence,” says Cristie Newhart, a Senior Faculty member at Kripalu and a Kripalu yoga teacher. Still, says Newhart, it’s not necessarily that we sit, but how we sit. “Most of us slump in our chairs and sit forward of—rather than on top of—the sitting bones,” she says. “That rounds and compresses the spine and brings stress to the low back. Such slumping can also invite shallow breathing, which can create a sort of permanent state of ‘fight or flight’ within the nervous system.”

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Posted on April 17th, 2012 by in Healthy Living

What is Qigong?

Qigong instructors Deborah Davis—an acupuncturist and medical intuitive—and Ken Nelson—a leader in mind-body practices who also teaches yoga, meditation, and bodywork—share their personal connections to qigong and discuss its benefits.

What exactly is qigong?

Deborah Davis Qigong is an ancient system of self-healing that’s been around for 2,000 years. It’s a practice that’s meant to help your body heal itself naturally.

Ken Nelson “Qi” means energy and “gong” means to cultivate. It’s an umbrella term for any energy/movement work, such as martial arts and tai chi. Qigong is one of the four pillars of Chinese medicine.

Do yoga and qigong complement each other?

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Posted on April 12th, 2012 by in Healthy Living

The Big Sneeze

Early spring may sound lovely—early shedding of thick winter layers, early walks on the beach. However, early spring can also mean a sudden surge of allergies, both for longtime sufferers and those who’d previously been allergy-free. According to Ayurveda, that’s because just as water returns to nature—evidenced by all those new leaves and blooming flowers—so, too, does water return to our bodies. And too much water too quickly can show up in the form of runny noses, watery eyes, and congestion, making those long walks on the beach a little less fun.

“When we shift from one season to the next—which in Ayurveda we refer to as ritusandhi—our immunity is especially low for two to four weeks,” says Ayurvedic specialist Rosy Mann, a senior faculty member of the Kripalu School of Ayurveda. Typically, the transition from winter to spring is slow, with gradual changes in temperatures that allow our bodies time to adjust. “When warm weather comes on very suddenly, though, it overtaxes the system,” clogging our digestive and respiratory tracts and inflaming tissue, says Mann. Our bodies then produce even more fluid—in the form of mucous, usually—to flush out toxins.

There’s good news:

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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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