Take a moment to pause, to breathe, and to exhale into the day. As we let go and head into a new week, set your intention for self-care, connection, and inquiry.
As the winter sky becomes darker, we can always illuminate ourselves from within with simple sun breaths. To try: From Mountain pose, relax your belly, then take 5–10 complete breaths using your full lung capacity. Try to let each inhale and each exhale last around six counts. Inhale and slowly raise your arms out to [...]
by Carly Sachs, guest blogger
I remember shyly asking my classmates to take off their shoes, the school linoleum cold on our feet as we teetered and crashed into our desks and each other. The assignment for Ms. Rotar’s seventh-grade English class was to give a how-to speech. I had decided I wanted to teach my class to do yoga, despite the fact that I had never actually done yoga. So armed with my books from the public library, I taught my fellow students how to do Tree pose, Vrksasana.
Why I was so determined to do yoga still confounds me. I’d heard about yoga for the first time in the course catalog of my local Jewish Community Center under the classes for seniors, and soon after my seventh-grade speech, I asked my mom to sign me up.
How can we, as mindful people, make our way through this time of senseless and unimaginable loss? Here, Aruni Nan Futuronsky, Kripalu Senior Life Coach, shares some ways we can all seek solace and cultivate connection in the wake of the recent tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.
Renew your gratitude for what is. Take a few minutes today to appreciate what you have in your life: Speak your gratitude to others. Savor the love that is present. Enjoy and appreciate your children. We live in the illusion of permanence. Life, by definition, is impermanent. By becoming more aware of what is, by savoring it more, perhaps some meaning might emerge from this tragedy.
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.”
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.
What You Believe and How You Digest May Go Hand in Hand
In this excerpt from their book, The Inside Tract: Your Good Gut Guide to Great Digestive Health, Kripalu Nutritionist Kathie Madonna Swift, MS, RD, LDN, and coauthor Gerard E. Mullin share insights on how cultivating a spiritual practice can help you reduce stress, recover from illness, and lead a life of wellness.
Many studies have demonstrated a connection between spirituality and lower rates of stress and even depression. Maintaining a spiritual practice can help people cope better with stressful situations, thus reducing their anxiety levels and lessening the impact of chronic stress. Numerous researchers have documented a link between spirituality and depression: Spiritually healthy practices like finding meaning and purpose in life, having an intrinsic value system, and belonging to a supportive community with shared values may reduce depressive symptoms. Since stress and mood disorders such as anxiety and depression have such a profound impact on gut health, it stands to reason that engaging in a spiritual practice could have a positive impact on stress-related digestive disorders, too.
Harvard cardiologist Dr. Herbert Benson was one of the first to study the relationship between spirituality and health. He revolutionized the field by showing that meditating in a trancelike state reduces stress and improves health while simultaneously raising consciousness and spiritual awareness. Though his finding is still considered groundbreaking by many in the West, ancient cultures have integrated spirituality into healing for millennia. Shamanic priests were regarded as “healers” long before the development of pharmaceuticals, and meditation and prayer have been at the very center of healing practices since the dawn of time.
“The best way to remove a fault is to practice its opposite virtue. Practicing virtue decreases mental restlessness and increases happiness. Eradicate your bad character traits by strengthening good character traits.” —Swami Kripalu