Words from the Wise

Sometimes a seemingly simple gesture, phrase, mantra, or anecdote inspires us to pause and take note. Here, we share such tidbits from the Kripalu community.

Posted on August 20th, 2012 by in Words from the Wise, Yoga

Talking with Seane Corn: Activism Starts from Within

Right away, Seane Corn will have you know: She is not perfect. Although she is one of the yoga community’s best-known teachers—a gifted orator, physically beautiful, and, as the founder of the grassroots outreach effort, Off the Mat, Into the World (OTM), certifiably giving—the Los Angeles–based yoga star can be impatient, controlling, short-tempered, and reactive. She has a mouth like a truck driver. Corn makes it clear, however, that she hasn’t succeeded despite these shortcomings—rather, she has succeeded because of them. Learning to recognize, and claim, those imperfect parts of herself has, she says, made her a better teacher, friend, daughter, and partner, and directly benefited her efforts as an activist.

Corn began her relationship with activism at an early age. As a recent high school graduate living in Manhattan, she participated in emotionally charged rallies concerning women’s and gay rights. Before giant, angry crowds, she’d hop on stage, grab a megaphone, and release her point of view in bouts of rage, thinking that she needed to be loud in order to be heard. Eventually—and largely, she says, through her yoga practice—Corn began to understand that change happened only when both sides were willing to see, and hear, the other’s point of view, which first required her to learn to truly appreciate her own.

“For a long time, I had a need to change or fix certain circumstances but an unwillingness to look at my own issues,” says Corn. “I realized that if I was going to change the world, I needed to start with myself.” She came to understand that being a good activist meant taking responsibility for her feelings and respecting those of others even—especially—those with whom she might not necessarily agree, a philosophy that became a natural extension of her yoga practice.

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Resilience Through Positive Connection

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 June 12th, 2012 by in Words from the Wise, Yoga

Finding an Inner Home

I was born in Iran. The political landscape there was not something I agreed with or felt I could change. I came to the United States to go to school. I’ve met many nice people here, but after 9/11, for some people, anyone of Middle Eastern origin represented the face of the enemy. I had many unpleasant experiences. Without knowing my beliefs, people would hate me just from looking at my face or seeing my last name.

At Kripalu, I heard comments from the teachers like, “Thank yourself for being here.” There was the utmost care and compassion for yourself. That’s what I needed to heal myself, the utmost compassion. Also, having compassion for the people who hated me for things I had no responsibility for. I learned to take the seat of the observer, instead of taking the seat of the judge and saying this is right or wrong.

Before Kripalu, any kind of yoga I tried had been bittersweet. There were so many things I couldn’t do. I thought, maybe my body is not made for it. When I came to Kripalu I could see that it’s about doing what’s good for your body. I learned there is no perfect Downward Dog. I began seeing yoga as a way to grow, and it’s okay if I never have a perfect pose.

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Posted on June 9th, 2012 by in Words from the Wise

Zen and the Art of Writing: Q & A with Natalie Goldberg

An excerpt from Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within

After more than 20 years, Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones remains the definitive guidebook for those who see the writing process as a journey of the soul. Goldberg broke ground with the book, first published in 2005, when she compared writing with Zen meditation. In this Q&A from the 10th-anniversary edition, she explores that connection.

Q What are the “I can’t write because” excuses that you hear the most?

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Posted on May 21st, 2012 by in Words from the Wise, Yoga

Turning Point: Vandita Kate Marchesiello

Vandita Kate Marchesiello, E-RYT 500, is a senior teacher and faculty member at Kripalu Center and the recording artist on two CDs, Transform, Relax, and Rejuvenate and Yoga with Vandita. Director of Kripalu Professional Associations and Kripalu’s Teaching for Diversity program, Vandita has balanced family, self-care, and a career in yoga and health for more than 30 years.

Q Describe what you do in 15 words or less.

A Practice love, patience, and kindness toward myself and others, at home, work, and play.

Q Tell us about a turning point in your life.

A When I was in my early twenties, I was headed down a path that could have been destructive to my health and happiness. A friend turned me on to yoga, and I fell in love with the physical, mental, and spiritual practices. Now, nearly 40 years later, I am still practicing and teaching, from my own experience, the depth and breath of yoga that can lead to a whole and healthy life.
Q What do you love about teaching?

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Posted on May 2nd, 2012 by in Words from the Wise

Beginner’s Mind

“The beginner’s mind is the mind that faces life like a small child, full of curiosity, wonder, and amazement.”

–Anonymous

At age 16, when I learned how to drive, my dad insisted that I start with a standard/stick shift. Although I had resistance at first, I warmed up to the idea and have been driving a standard ever since. I’ve owned my current car, a Honda Civic Hybrid, since 2004 and love its zippy yet eco-friendly nature. The other day, while backing out of a parking spot, I encountered a familiar problem: trying to put the stick shift into reverse was literally sticky. I usually take the gear to first then back toward reverse a few times and the problem clears up. I always assumed it was simply due to my car getting old but, as it tends to happen, a new lesson just was around the corner.

My friend Katie was in the car with me and advised that I let go of the clutch and then draw the stick shift back into reverse. It worked like a charm and I thought to myself, ‘Are you kidding me? I’ve been battling this #@** gear for years, and all I had to do was reset the clutch!?’ I was also thankful for the tip and thought about what a beautiful example it was of the benefits of employing a beginner’s open mindset.

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Posted on April 11th, 2012 by in Words from the Wise, Yoga

BRFWA: Breathe, Relax, Feel, Watch, Allow

Here at Kripalu, we embrace an approach to yoga and healthy living that can permeate every aspect of what we do. This approach is called BRFWA: breathe, relax, feel, watch, allow. In this video, Kripalu faculty member Ken Nelson shares his wisdom on this technology for calm.

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Posted on March 19th, 2012 by in Words from the Wise, Yoga

Words from the Wise: Falling into Place

Jay Karlinski, Kripalu Yoga Teacher and Guest Blogger

It’s a universal truth: We will all fall in life—all of us. Yes, you too. If you can accept this, you are on the right track. When I’m teaching asana classes, I encourage my students to play with their balance until they fall because that’s when the real teaching happens.

I believe asana holds countless lessons for how we live life. We are all going to fall in life, but it’s what happens next that matters most. If we can fall with grace and a lightness of heart, we’re serving ourselves. In class, when you fall out of a pose, notice what the first thought is that crosses your mind. If you find that you’re judging yourself or telling yourself, “I’m not strong enough” or “I can’t believe I fell, I am no good.” take a pause and recognize that you’re reinforcing limiting beliefs.

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