An excerpt from The Wisdom of Yoga: A Seeker’s Guide to Extraordinary Wisdom (Bantam 2006). In this book, Steven Cope, MSW, investigates the wisdom tradition of yoga from the point of view of six contemporary characters—modern yogis struggling with issues of love, work, addictions, careers, and unfulfilled longings of many varieties. Weaving together narrative story […]
Here, find insights, teachings, and explorations into all things yoga.
You may be well along in your holiday gift shopping. But if you’re like me, buying gifts because the calendar says so feels a bit hollow—and you have therefore been dragging your heels. Here are some ways to make giving more meaningful.
Meaning kicks in when you give in a way that’s aligned with your values like, say: stepping lightly on the planet; supporting local and/or small businesses (a.k.a. people following their passions); helping those in need; giving experiences over stuff; tapping your creative juices instead of Amazon.com’s; and more. But it’s also important to stay mindful of the receiver: Just because you think your mom should do yoga, giving her a mat might read as unwelcome pressure.
That said, here are some conscious ways to give:
When she was growing up, Lauren-Victoria (Tori) Hellrung’s family raised guide dogs in their home, so Tori has always been sensitive to the needs of people with visual impairments. After completing her yoga teacher training at Kripalu in 2009, Tori went home to Montreal and immediately started a class for legally blind adults at the MAB–Mackay Rehabilitation Centre (at the MAB site, formerly known as the Montreal Association for the Blind).
“When I started, I didn’t realize the impact this program would have on their lives,” Tori says. “As I began to learn about the community, it became clear that beyond the gym and aquafitness, my students had no other physical outlets, since most sports are not accessible to blind people. They had no other way of exploring their bodies’ potential, and none as mindful as yoga. I have not heard of a program other than my own in the Montreal area that provides this kind of opportunity for students to be in their bodies in a safe, spiritual, and physical way.”
So what are you doing this New Year’s Eve? Watching the ball drop over Times Square on television … again? For many of us, the typical New Year’s celebration can feel like old hat after a while. We start looking for more profound ways of honoring the space between letting go of the old and embracing the new. For those seeking a spiritual connection during times of transition, the world’s wisdom traditions—including Peruvian shamanism, Kabbalah, and yoga—offer rituals rich with meaning.
Shamanic philosophy sees the turning of the year as a time to honor and give back to Mother Earth, and a way of tapping into and acknowledging nature’s cycle of transformation. According to Ray Crist, founder of the Jaguar Path, which fuses yoga practice and the philosophy of Peruvian shamanism, the Q’ero of Peru believe that we’re all shamans—each of us possesses an intuitive power and wisdom that connects us to both the world around and the world within. Rituals empower people because, he says, “through ritual, we can be the catalysts that bring forth healing and change into our own lives.” To celebrate the power of change that the new year brings, the Q’ero shamans perform rituals such as the despachio, an offering of gratitude to Mother Earth for all she provides.
Janna Delgado, BFA, E-RYT 500, combines her training as a Kripalu Yoga teacher, Ayurvedic Yoga Specialist, and AFAA-certified fitness instructor with her background in acting to create meaningful collective experiences of yoga on the mat and out in the world. Since 2008, Janna has focused on enriching the lives of adolescents through yoga in her role as Program Leader on the Yoga in the Schools project for Kripalu’s Institute for Extraordinary Living.
Q Describe what you do in 15 words or less.
There are many benefits to forward bends, both standing and sitting. They create length and space in the spine, counteracting compression, and their inward nature can promote introspection. Yet forward bands can also be a challenge to many people, especially those with tight hamstrings. Common physical patterns, such as overstretched back muscles and rounded shoulders (mostly likely from sitting in front of a computer for hours) are often exacerbated in forward bending poses.
But as senior Kripalu Yoga teacher Cristie Newhart says in her R&R retreat workshop Forward Bends, yoga can help us dissolve patterns so we can uncover fresh ways of looking and experiencing ourselves. This multifaceted awareness about how we move can help us cultivate a deeper, richer yoga practice, allowing us to discover new ease in our forward bends.
In the workshop, Cristie shares these tips for getting the most out of your forward folds:
In this monthly series running through 2012, community members recall milestone moments to commemorate and reflect on Kripalu Yoga.
In 1972, a small residential yoga retreat called Kripalu Center was founded in Sumneytown, Pennsylvania, by Amrit Desai and several of his students from the Philadelphia area. Desai had emigrated to the United States from India, where he was a close disciple of the yoga master Swami Kripalu. Over the next 40 years, Desai’s students integrated Swami Kripalu’s core teachings with psychology, science, and Western approaches to healing and self-development, creating groundbreaking programs and approaches to well-being. Today, Kripalu’s curriculum, professional training, and yoga research continue to be informed by the lineage of Kripalu Yoga. To commemorate the 40-year milestone, we asked several teachers and community members to reflect on what Kripalu Yoga means to them.