Ommm. It’s often the first and last sound in your ears in a yoga class. But what does it mean? Perhaps you’ve heard it defined as “the sound of the universe”—but what does that really mean? Turns out, a lot—and yet, like many spiritual (and especially yogic) things, it’s not so easy to define. “It’s [...]
By Tara Brach Mohini was a regal white tiger who lived for many years at the Washington DC National Zoo. For most of those years her home was in the old lion house—a typical twelve-by-twelve-foot cage with iron bars and a cement floor. Mohini spent her days pacing restlessly back and forth in her cramped [...]
When I was 19, I enrolled in a theater conservatory in Manhattan. I was hungry for the experience of living in a city and having everything at my fingertips. Unfortunately, I was 19, and full of fear and insecurity. I struggled to enjoy the opportunities that came my way daily. I felt swallowed by a [...]
By Shannon Sexton Across the country and around the world, yoga practitioners are chanting the names of God in foreign tongues including Sanskrit, Hindi, and Gurmukhi. They’re even chanting in English. And they’re taking kirtan out of the temples and the yoga studios, and into dance halls, universities, cathedrals, and other unexpected places. In the [...]
As yoga becomes increasingly popular in the United States, the ancient practice of kirtan (KEER-tahn), or yogic chanting, is gaining interest. The call-and-response format of chanting is a type of yoga in itself and has many of the mind-calming benefits of a yoga class or sitting meditation. For those who find meditation difficult, kirtan, which [...]
We’re a nation obsessed with youth. Even if you’re not actively trying to look like you did 10 years ago (or even one year ago), chances are you want to at least feel, and possibly think, younger. Who doesn’t?
“There seems to be a point where people realize that their previously youthful bodies—and minds—are changing, and they want to get back to where they were,” says Hilary Garivaltis, Dean of the Kripalu School of Ayurveda. That’s normal. What isn’t normal—or needn’t be—is the notion that aging has to be filled with inevitable aches and pains. “We shouldn’t expect that we’ll get old and decrepit and that our bodies should hurt,” says Hilary. “We don’t need to suffer inordinately. That’s not necessarily the reality of aging.” Not according to Ayurveda, anyway.
The truth is that our bodies do break down as we get older—that’s fact. As the synovial fluid in the joints starts to wear thin, our bodies become more brittle, causing friction and pain. Bones, joints, and organs are more delicate. In Ayurveda, this also means an excess of vata, the dosha that governs movement in the body. Too much vata can mean dry
In this edition of Ask the Expert, meditation teacher and senior Kripalu faculty member Bhavani Lorraine Nelson answers questions from readers like you.
My mind races when I sit. Can mantras help?
The reason I cover five or six different techniques in my Introduction to Meditation program is because not every type of meditation is effective for everyone. Some people thrive on simply sitting with the breath; for others, the breath is very ephemeral, so the mind has free rein to wander. Some concentration practices can be more engaging for the mind and help it to quiet down. Mantra is one of those—it can be helpful for people who find it difficult to sit simply with the breath.
Recent scientific research on mantra practice shows that it is very soothing to the nervous system because of the repetition. Setting an intention when repeating a mantra adds to the power of the practice. There are different mantras for different goals; practitioners can create a “family” of mantras to use at specific times and for specific purposes. It’s important, though, to have a primary mantra, just as you have a primary yoga practice. To find one, you might start with Thomas Ashley-Farrand’s book Healing Mantras. Choose a mantra that you’re drawn to and can imagine wanting to repeat often.
Is it “cheating” to visualize pretty patterns and concentrate on those, to stop “thinking”?