Posted on July 26th, 2012 by in Healthy Living, Studies, News, and Trends

Turning Point: Q & A with Mark Pettus, MD

Mark Pettus, MD, is a board-certified internist and nephrologist who has been practicing for more than 25 years. He currently serves as Chief of Medicine at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany, New York, and is the author of The Savvy Patient: The Ultimate Advocate For Quality Health Care. Mark has been featured on numerous television and radio programs nationally.

Q Describe what you do in 15 words or less.
A I serve as Chief of Medicine at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany, New York, overseeing all aspects of patient care, quality, safety, and performance improvement.

Q Tell us about a turning point in your life.
A Ten years ago, when I was in my early forties, my blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, and quality of life were beginning to take a turn for the worst. This was an epiphany for me, as I became awakened to the power of self-care and self-regulation. As we are clearly not prisoners of our DNA, I started on a mission to transform the health trajectory that had consumed both of my parents at young ages. I eat whole, nutritious foods, move a lot, and meditate often. My life will never be the same-or, as another famous Yogi (the baseball player) once said, “The future ain’t what it used to be.”

Q What do you love about teaching?

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Posted on July 24th, 2012 by in Studies, News, and Trends, Yoga

Hot Yoga: How Hot is Too Hot?

It’s been a record-breaking summer so far, with early-season heat waves pushing temperatures along the typically seasonable Northeast into the upper 90s and past 100. Those of us who are fans of hot yoga— whether we’re talking about mildly heated vinyasa or Bikram, where the room is set to a sweaty 105 degrees F—know that the practice can be a welcome relief in the cold winter months. But what about when temperatures outside the studio are hotter than temperatures in?

Whether induced by vigorous exercise, high heat, or both, sweating is the body’s way of cooling us down, by absorbing heat and releasing it into the atmosphere. The process of evaporation is key to this function; that’s why doctors say to avoid wiping sweat if you can, letting it dissipate on its own instead. (If you’re dripping, however, you might as well wipe; anything that hits the floor won’t get a chance to cool you down.) But when we’re so used to “sweating it out,” how do we know when hot may be getting a little over the top?

It’s a simple matter of self-awareness, says Devarshi Steven Hartman, Dean of the Kripalu School of Yoga and a fan of hot yoga. “Sweating is detoxifying, while the heat itself can make our bodies more amenable to certain postures,” he says, noting that people with high blood pressure or heart conditions should use extra caution—or, even better, get the okay from a doctor first—when doing yoga in high heat. The downsides, of course, include the risk of dehydration and becoming overly exhausted. “Levels of tolerance are very individual, and can vary day by day,” he says.

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Posted on July 23rd, 2012 by in Nutrition

Integrative Nutrition Tips with Kathie Madonna Swift, MS, RD, LDN

Is there anything more satisfying than sitting down to a yummy, home-cooked meal prepared with fresh ingredients and with love? I’m embarrassed to admit that there are weeks when I don’t get that satisfaction for several days in a row, and I know I’m not alone.

“Many of us are strangers to our kitchens,” says Kathie Madonna Swift, MS, RD, LDN, a nutritionist and dietician whose passion for the power of food has spanned more than 30 years. A Senior Nutritionist in Kripalu’s Healthy Living programs, Kathy knows that packaged foods can’t offer the nutritional punch that fresh, whole foods can. “If you’re really interested in eating well,” she says, “you need to make cooking a priority.”

I get it, but I don’t always do it. Like everyone else, I live in fast-paced life in which work, long commutes, and the call of technology consume more and more of my time. Preparing meals can feel like just one more task on a never-ending to-do list. But Kathy says that we overestimate the amount of time cooking requires and underestimate the benefits we’ll receive if we can begin trading some time spent online for time spent in our kitchens.

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Posted on July 22nd, 2012 by in Moment of Quiet

Moment of Quiet: In the Orchard

“Accepting the truth proclaimed by the scriptures does not produce knowledge. Real knowledge is only obtained through personal experience. For experience, practice is indispensable.” —Swami Kripalu    

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Posted on July 21st, 2012 by in Creative Corner

Creativity Corner: The Long Walk

Artist, Loren Talbot, shares her experience in creating this collage: The Long Walk.

This piece entitled The Long Walk was inspired by a book with the same name. It was written by the author, Slavomir Rawicz who was a Polish prisoner locked in a Siberian camp. He and six other’s escaped from the camp and crossed after six months through the Himalayas’ into freedom.

While there has been much discussion in recent years if the acts in the book actually took place or were imagined; the story is one of triumph from imprisonment, physical and mental survival and free will. I made this collage after reading the book. The Himalayas are collaged gears representing the miles the group had traveled and the sun setting symbolized the end of the journey. I added Chinese characters in the piece to acknowledge the ongoing occupation of Tibet as it is hard to think of these mountains without their many layers of history.

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Posted on July 20th, 2012 by in Kripalu Kitchen

Foodie Friday: Pushing the Right Buttons

Ah, travel… I truly love every aspect of it —even waiting in airports has its moments. Of course, as you may suspect, one of my favorite travel activities is discovering wonderful new foodie experiences.

This past week I went to Washington State for a training with Dr. Joe Dispenza (if you haven’t checked him out, I highly recommend it). After the training, I decided to give myself a day to explore Seattle before hopping a red-eye home.

For those of you who’ve been to Seattle, you can probably guess where I ended up… Pike Place Market! Now, Pike Place is not your typical farmer’s market: exploring it is a full-out adventure, filled with food, music, arts, crafts, and great people-watching. This is how food is meant to be displayed, bought, and enjoyed!

There were abundant arrays of fruits and vegetables, lively pasta vendors, succulent meats, fish like you’ve never seen before (I’ll get back to this one),and scrumptious pastries—including warm, freshly made donuts.

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Posted on July 19th, 2012 by in Healthy Living, Life Lessons, Studies, News, and Trends

What, us worry? Better than anyone.

In his new memoir,Monkey Mind, Daniel Smith describes a life spent in near- constant panic. He’d have recurring nightmares about premature death. He’d wrestle over the decision between ketchup and barbecue sauce. He’d sweat, a lot. In Monkey Mind—the title comes from the Buddhist term meaning “unsettled, restless”—Smith, now mostly recovered though still no stranger to the panic attack, uses humor and blunt-force honesty to describe what is an ever-present, and very American, condition: worry.

These days, everyone’s a worrier. Nearly one in five Americans suffer from an anxiety disorder. If there were an international war of worriers, we’d be winning: According to a recent World Health Organization study, 31 percent of Americans are likely to suffer from an anxiety issue at some point in their lives. Compare that to second-place Colombia, where the anxious top out at 25.3 percent. Even those in developing countries are less likely to fret: According to the 2002 World Mental Health Survey, people in developing-world countries are up to five times less likely to show clinically significant anxiety levels than Americans. Until, that is, they move here.

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Posted on July 17th, 2012 by in Conscious Living

Conscious Living: Golf’s Yoga of Self Discovery

In the summer, one of the things I do to unwind from work is play golf. Sometimes I have friends who laugh about why I would play a game that involves walking around a big field, chasing a little white ball that seems to go in lots of directions. I love playing for many reasons. The obvious part is a great walk, outside the office, around a beautiful park—that, in and of itself, is a lovely and relaxing experience. But the real reasons I love playing golf are subtler and a bit harder to explain.

Golf is a game in which failure and success seem to come in rapid succession. One great shot can be followed by another shot that is an abject mess. One moment you are feeling the joy and pride that comes with a great swing and the next you are watching your ball arc unceremoniously into the water or the woods. It is a test of one’s ability to be present with what is and to watch how your mind reacts to the pendulum of experience that is the golf game. Golf is more like meditation that any sport I know. It has all the experiences of having and losing control, all the sensations of flow and contraction, and all the elements of forgetting and remembering. No other sport seems to be such a perfect metaphor for the practices I do to explore the nature of my mind.

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