“Everything—yourself, your community, your environment—is in a constant state of give and take,” says Steven Leonard in his R&R retreat workshop In Through the Outdoors. What better way to bring home that sense of interconnectedness than a mindful walk in nature? That’s the simple, powerful experience that Steven offers in this workshop—one that’s easy to [...]
He looks and talks like the quintessential California surfer dude, but world-class kayaker Johnny Snyder actually grew up a stone’s throw from Kripalu and did his first paddling in the Berkshires, on the Stockbridge Bowl and the Housatonic River. Since then, he’s ridden rivers through at least five continents, paddled competitively in international races, and [...]
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.
Rubin Naiman, PhD, is the sleep and dream specialist and clinical assistant professor of medicine at the University of Arizona’s Center for Integrative Medicine, directed by Dr. Andrew Weil. He maintains a private practice and provides consultation and training internationally. He is author of Healing Night and, with Dr. Andrew Weil, Healthy Sleep, and creator of The Sleep Advisor, a software program addressing sleep disorders. www.drnaiman.com
Q Describe what you do in 15 words or less.
A I teach about the tree of daily life being rooted in the ground of nightly sleep.
Where Yoga and Nature Meet
Tresca Weinstein, guest blogger
Each time they co-teach the Kripalu program Yoga and Kayaking, Greg DiLisio and Johnny Snyder lead what they call a “floating meditation.” As the sun begins to rise over the Berkshires, the group rows together toward the center of Lake Mahkeenac, its surface shrouded in early-morning mist. Then they pull in their paddles, close their eyes, and let themselves float wherever the current and breeze carry them.
“There’s a universal feeling that water can provide—a sense of being in the flow, and of being connected to the source,” says Greg, a quigong, tai chi, and yoga teacher as well as avid outdoor sportsman. “We encourage people to touch the water, to sense it around and within them, to appreciate it as a life force.”
Just as our yoga practice on the mat can serve as a microcosm for our day-to-day experience, nature can be a powerful metaphor for life. Confronting and moving through discomfort in the context of nature opens the door to overcoming fear in other areas of life. The offshore meditation in Greg’s kayaking program brings people face-to-face with their fears of being unmoored—literally and figuratively—and alone in the unknown.
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.
In this edition of Ask the Expert, senior Kripalu faculty member and yoga philosophy professor Randal Williams answers your questions about bringing awareness to your outdoor activities.
I like to hike and cross-country ski—what are some ways I can incorporate yoga and meditation practices into my outdoor activities?
When you’re physically active outdoors, it naturally enlivens your focus. When you’re climbing over rocks or roots, walking on slippery or rough terrain, you have to pay attention. This is good for sharpening your mind just like meditation does, along with the added benefit of being physically active.
In my own practice, I like to start out slow and take cues from the environment. If I hear a brook rushing or wind blowing, I’ll stop and listen. I approach the experience with a receptive frame of mind. You never know what you’re going to find, and that reinforces the feeling of being part of something bigger. This mindfulness approach is very much an intervention for calming busyness and stress.
Every Sunday, you’ll find a space to enjoy guided meditation, a piece of music, an enticing image, or video that inspires calm. Since this is our first post in this category, we are sharing an image from our photo library of a snowy day at Kripalu.