Posted on December 5th, 2012 by in Yoga

40 Years of Kripalu in the West: Coming Home

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.

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Posted on December 4th, 2012 by in Healthy Living, Nutrition

Happiness and Fruit

Seems obvious: Who doesn’t get at least a little bit excited by a heaping bowl of fresh-cut fruit (especially if someone else has done the cutting for us)? But now science confirms that happiness and mental health rise with the number of servings of fruits and vegetables we eat each day.

Researchers at the University of Warwick and Dartmouth College studied 80,000 people living in the United Kingdom, and compared their fruit and veggie intake with their life satisfaction, mental well-being, presence of mental disorders, self-reported health, happiness, nervousness, and how often they “feel low,” factoring in such variables as the rest of their diets, alcohol, and many demographic, social, and economic factors. In an overwhelming number of cases, people who ate the World Health Organization-recommended five servings per day were happier than those who didn’t, and those who ate seven per day were happiest.

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Posted on December 3rd, 2012 by in Meditation

Joyful Meditation for the Holidays

The following heart-based meditation comes from the Institute of HeartMath, in Boulder Creek, California, and is a wonderful technique to redirect the mind and replace negative emotions with positive ones.

First, get your body in a comfortable, relaxed position and focus on breathing slowly and rhythmically, so that the length of your inhalations and exhalations are about the same. Find a breath rate that feels sustainable for you. Next, bring your awareness to the center of your chest and imagine your breath flowing in and out of your heart center. As you continue to breathe in and out of your heart, remember a time when you felt a positive emotion such as gratitude, joy, or love.

Think about being with loved ones, a beloved pet, appreciation for the good things in your life. This associative memory generates a positive emotion. If you can’t recall such a memory, then simply imagine a positive feeling moving in and out of your heart as you breathe. If your mind wanders, gently return to the positive feeling, allowing the sensations of gratitude, love, or joy to flow with your breath. Continue to circulate this heartfelt feeling for a few breaths, or even for a few minutes. Then pause to notice the effects of the practice.

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Posted on December 2nd, 2012 by in Moment of Quiet

Take a Moment

“By making others happy, you make yourself happy.”
—Swami Kripalu

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Posted on December 1st, 2012 by in Yoga

Mudra Yoga

The practice of Mudra Yoga opens your highest potential to feel and heal, inviting your deepest self to surface. An empowering and meditative practice, it is a doorway to exploring the potential of posture and meditation in a whole new light. You will come into a state of clarity as you experience your innate wholeness, while gaining tools to transform and deepen both your own and your students’ yoga practice.

History of Mudras

Mudras are gestures or postures for the hands, face, or other key areas of the body. In Sanskrit, mudra means gesture or seal, referring to locking or sealing in a specific feeling, state, or energy for a particular effect. For example, Anjali Mudra, commonly known as “prayer pose,” awakens and locks in feelings of reverence, peace, and connection to our own and all others’ hearts.

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Posted on November 30th, 2012 by in Kripalu Kitchen

Food and Mood

Did you know that your brain is a reflection of the nutrients it receives from
 the biochemical information (food) you feed it? Your brain needs nourishment and whether you are upbeat or feeling blue is strongly influenced by how your “second brain” (your digestive tract) digests and absorbs the “information” you are eating. Thus, your mood is a mirror not only of what you eat but also how you digest!

Here are five quick nutrition tips to boost your mood and lift your spirit:

1. Nourish your “mood-cell membranes” with healthy fats such as avocado, wild fatty fish (sardines, wild salmon, or black cod), nuts, seeds, olives, coconut, and smart oils like extra-virgin olive oil.

2. “B-happy” by including whole foods such as beans, dark, leafy green vegetables, and whole grains rich in B-vitamins in your diet.

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Posted on November 29th, 2012 by in Meditation, Yoga

Yoga Time-Out [VIDEO]

Larissa Hall Carlson, Kripalu Yoga and Ayurveda specialist, shares a breathing practice to bring you to a calm, centered state.

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Posted on November 28th, 2012 by in Healthy Living

Turning Point: Barbara Biziou

Barbara Biziou, author of The Joy of Ritual and The Joys of Family Rituals, integrates her extensive knowledge of global spiritual practices, rituals, psychology, and business into her coaching and speaking practice. She is a Huffington Post blogger and has been featured in the New York Times, Oprah.com, PsychologyToday.com, Harper’s Bazaar, and more. www.joyofritual.com

Q Describe what you do in 15 words or less.

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Posted on November 27th, 2012 by in Life Lessons

The Politics of Emotion

In the days after the election, millions of people around the world watched as President Obama delivered a heartfelt—and teary—speech to his campaign staff. “What you guys have done,” he said to them, wiping away tears with his finger, “means that the work that I’m doing is important.” It was both surprising and moving to see a man in a position traditionally known for coolness—under pressure always—overcome with such visible emotion.

In fact, emotions came up a lot throughout the election. Some of the most prominent issues were ones that spoke to us, our lives and our beliefs, very personally: our right to control our bodies, our right to marry whomever we want. We saw many tender moments between the candidates—though some more tender than most. Both during and after the election, the emotional vulnerability we saw from Obama far surpassed that of his opponent, making us wonder: Could emptions have contributed to Obama’s win?

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Posted on November 26th, 2012 by in Words from the Wise

Stumbling Blocks, Stepping Stones

J. L. Johnson, guest blogger

When Edmund Hillary set foot on the summit of Mount Everest in 1953, it was his greatest feat: a first ascent that would forever link his name, along with that of his Sherpa guide, Tenzing Norgay, to the world’s highest peak. But it wasn’t his greatest challenge. That would come in 1975, when Hillary’s wife and 16-year-old daughter were killed in a plane crash. “It changed everything,” he told Time magazine. “My life disappeared.”

Hillary did eventually remarry, and carried on with vital environmental and humanitarian work in his beloved Nepal. When he died in 2008, it was as a climbing legend who had conquered the unconquerable—but also as a husband and father who’d spent years tackling a much more personal obstacle.

Whether it’s loss of a job or loss of a loved one, accident or illness, sooner or later we all find something daunting that is standing in our life’s path: An obstacle. A roadblock. Or, as suggested by Kripalu Healthy Living faculty member Maria Sirois, PsyD, a mountain: something that can seem insurmountable but can help us learn to value the climbing process itself and give us greater perspective as we rise.

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