Yoga

Here, find insights, teachings, and explorations into all things yoga.

Posted on August 23rd, 2012 by in Outside Our Walls, Yoga

Making an Impact: From Africa to Kripalu, and Back

Tresca Weinstein, guest blogger

A new series focusing on ways in which Kripalu is making an impact in the world through our multiple outreach programs, including our scholarship program, Teaching for Diversity fund, and Institute for Extraordinary Living research projects. Today we focus on Paige Elenson, who recently came to Kripalu, with the help of a scholarship, to learn skills to bring back with her to Kenya, where she founded the Africa Yoga Project in 2009.

In 2006, while on safari with her parents in Kenya, yoga teacher Paige Elenson was driving through the bush when she spotted a group of young men doing handstands by the side of the road.

“I jumped out of the car and stared doing handstands with them,” she says. “Yoga gave me the opportunity to connect with people from a totally different culture, without words. Those few moments of play were the best time of my trip.”

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Posted on August 21st, 2012 by in Yoga

Nourishing the Teacher

The other weekend in a yoga teacher training, we had a lovely woman guide our group in the basics of restorative yoga. At the end of the night, seeing my students in the sweet, post-practice daze, I tried to recall the last time I put my legs up the wall and covered my eyes with my lavender eye pillow. It had been a while.

Life as a yoga teacher can get busy. E-mails, cooking, writing, leading classes, planning, marketing, meeting with students, Facebook updates, and studying are only the beginning. Throw in social engagements, kids, community work, an additional job, and phone calls to loved ones, and there are simply not enough hours in the day.

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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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Posted on August 18th, 2012 by in Healthy Living, Yoga

On Being Flexible

The practice of yoga can help bring balance to our lives. We all have particular tendencies and patterns and, without awareness, these patterns can create imbalance. By becoming aware of our habitual tendencies—and consciously applying their opposites—we can release stuck patterns and bring body, mind, and spirit back into union. Here are some polarities you [...]

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Posted on August 15th, 2012 by in Yoga

Kripalu Yoga Posture Clinic: Savasana

Welcome to the Kripalu Yoga Posture Clinic, week twelve! Here, Devarshi Steven Hartman, Dean of the Kripalu School of Yoga, and Jovinna Chan, Assistant Dean, share sound tips to help your savasana soar and soothe. These clips can be enjoyed independently or as a series for a complete practice, once they’re all published. Thanks for coming back every Wednesday for this 12-week series. Enjoy!

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Posted on August 14th, 2012 by in Yoga

Ancient Wisdom on a New Path

Where Yoga and Shamanism Meet, Bold Directions Unfold

In 2006, Kripalu faculty member Ray Crist was recovering from a debilitating illness. A yoga teacher, martial artist, and Reiki practitioner, Ray had spent four years traveling the world seeking those who could heal him. His quest took him from the Buddhist monasteries on the borders of Cambodia to the clinics of the National Institutes of Health in Maryland. But when he ventured into the jungles of Peru to study with Incan shamans, the experience opened new doors of perception—and healing—within himself.

Guided by Don Manuel Portugal, a shaman in Cuzco, Peru, Ray discovered the culture, mythology, and practices of Incan shamanism. “Shamans are the medicine people of their tribe,” Ray says. “Their methods of healing center on the ‘energy body’ and plant medicine.” The deeper he delved into Incan shamanism, the more he began to notice profound similarities with yoga. “Yogis and shamans view the world as a physical world,” he explains. “Traumatic experiences are embedded in the body—near a joint, muscle, meridian, internal organ, or chakra. Yoga and shamanism help us delve into the root of our traumas to find healing on physical and emotional levels.” Ray began incorporating shamanistic principles into his yoga practice, imbuing it with a new richness. “Shamanism brought to my practice a direct awareness of energy moving through my body, a visceral understanding of what each asana offers,” he says.

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Posted on August 13th, 2012 by in Ask the Expert, Yoga

Ask the Expert: Movement and Meditation

In this edition of Ask the Expert, Cristie Newhart, yoga advisor for Kripalu’s Healthy Living programs, deconstructs two foundational postures—Triangle and Standing Forward Fold—and explains why meditation doesn’t just have to happen on the cushion.

When I practice Standing Forward Fold, I tend to hyperextend my legs. Any recommendations for practicing this pose safely?

There are many reasons why people hyperextend the knees, and most of the reasons are due to the relationship of hamstrings to the quads. It’s important to practice in such a way that the muscles around the knee protect and stabilize the knee. In most cases, it’s helpful to lift the quadriceps muscles in the front of the leg. Also, remember to lengthen the front of the body as you fold. The top of the pelvis tilts forward as you bend at the hip crease—think of the way an old-fashioned Rolodex flips forward. Don’t be overly concerned with your torso coming to your thighs—instead think in terms of spinal length. Be aware of the support of abdominal muscles below the navel. This support allows for greater flexibility in the lumbar spine. If your arms don’t reach the floor, try resting them on blocks rather than letting them dangle. Pressing the hands into a stable surface can help you find more length in the spine. Please do not be afraid to practice this posture with bent knees until you have strengthened your hamstrings.

I don’t have time to meditate for more than 5 or 10 minutes early in the morning. Is that enough?

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Posted on August 8th, 2012 by in Yoga

Kripalu Yoga Posture Clinic: Bound Angle

Welcome to the Kripalu Yoga Posture Clinic, week eleven! Here, Devarshi Steven Hartman, Dean of the Kripalu School of Yoga, and Jovinna Chan, Assistant Dean, share sound tips to help your bound angle soar. These clips can be enjoyed independently or as a series for a complete practice, once they’re all published. Come back every [...]

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Posted on August 1st, 2012 by in Yoga

Kripalu Yoga Posture Clinic: Supine Twist

Welcome to the Kripalu Yoga Posture Clinic, week ten! Here, Devarshi Steven Hartman, Dean of the Kripalu School of Yoga, and Jovinna Chan, Assistant Dean, share sound tips to help ground your Supine Twist. These clips can be enjoyed independently or as a series for a complete practice, once they’re all published. Come back every Wednesday for this 12-week series. Enjoy!

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Posted on July 25th, 2012 by in Yoga

Kripalu Yoga Posture Clinic: Bridge Pose

Welcome to the Kripalu Yoga Posture Clinic, week nine! Here, Devarshi Steven Hartman, Dean of the Kripalu School of Yoga, and Jovinna Chan, Assistant Dean, share sound tips to help your Bridge pose soar. These clips can be enjoyed independently or as a series for a complete practice, once they’re all published. Come back every Wednesday for this 12-week series! Enjoy!

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