Although we spend about one-third of our lives asleep, most people still don’t know how to get a good night’s rest and how important it is. Sleep is a good indicator of someone’s overall health says Susan B. Lord, MD, an integrative family physician who teaches the Healthy Living program Transforming Stress at Kripalu. “If […]
Many of us have experienced the immediate results of practicing yoga: less stress and a sense of calm. But what you might not know is that regular practice could yield long-term heath benefits. Research from the National Institute of Health (NIH) suggests that practicing yoga, along with regular exercise, can help relieve back pain, high […]
by Kristen Rae Stevens Let’s face it—regardless of where you live, stress will be a part of your life. But city dwellers often experience a particular brand of stress that emerges from sensory overload, a sense of compressed time, and the pressure to go, go, go! As a longtime yoga practitioner and teacher, I arrived […]
Stress has been called “the silent killer,” because it’s linked to chest pain and heart disease, but its other symptoms are unfortunately all too visible—weight gain, depression, and exhaustion, to name a few. The feeling of being overwhelmed is common to many of us, according to Susan B. Lord, MD, an integrative family physician who […]
Change is profoundly challenging. How many times in your life have you seen change rolling toward you, and deemed it unacceptable, not your plan? Found yourself working wildly to prevent or ignore it? Of course, it happened anyway. And how many times have you felt the urge, the deep internal pull, to change some lifestyle […]
We’re a nation fixated on youth—perhaps because our country isn’t even a quarter of a century old yet. Our anti-aging obsession has morphed into a multibillion dollar industry replete with cosmetics, creams, pills, work-out regimens, injections, and surgical procedures aimed at helping us look as youthful as possible. I’m not immune to the pressure. I […]
Over the last four and a half years, my life has literally turned upside down. After 18 years together, my husband and I sadly parted ways. While I’d lived on the East Coast my entire adult life, it no longer felt right to be there after our split. And so, a few years after the […]
Amy Weintraub, MFA, E-RYT 500, is the author of the books Yoga for Depression and Yoga Skills for Therapists, and creator of the award-winning DVD series LifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues. Founder of the LifeForce Yoga® Healing Institute, she offers professional trainings in LifeForce Yoga for Mood Management, and speaks at medical and psychological conferences internationally. www.yogafordepression.com
Q Describe what you do in 15 words or less.
A I inspire others to use yoga practices to remove whatever blocks them from knowing their true nature.
Q Tell us about a turning point in your life.
A I came to my first yoga teacher training at Kripalu in 1992 to deepen my own sadhana. I left with a passion to share with others the practice that had literally saved my life and had slowly helped me live a life free of medication for depression.
Q What do you love about teaching?
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.
“Can you create the life of your dreams?” asks Susan B. Lord, MD, in her R&R retreat lecture Mindful Living. More often than not, however, creating such a life can be challenging. As Susan points out, our culture can be quite isolating, demanding, and overstimulating. We live in a society that promotes linear thinking; meanwhile, our intuition, what Susan refers to as “the gut brain,” tends to be set aside. Because of this emphasis on a linear, head-centered existence, many of us are divorced from our bodies, and thus removed from the intuitive wisdom that resides within. We neglect our bodies—and our intrinsic physical needs—by sitting, often slumped, in front of a computer for eight (or more) hours a day; by not drinking enough water; or by over- or undereating. Because of this, Susan notes, many of us deny what we truly need through temporary measures, such as seeking out comfort foods or other unhealthy distractions, whenever we feel stressed, agitated, or lonely.
By cultivating a sense of mindfulness in our actions and experiences, however, we can create more space in our lives and encourage our intuition to flourish.
One of the keys to tapping into our intuition and creating a more mindful life is to step back and dis-identify from your stressors. You can do this, Susan says, simply by observing your stressors without judgment whenever they arise, and perhaps writing them down. For example, are you so harried that you often skip breakfast and end up feeling cranky and depleted before you even get to the office? By noticing this habit, you could make a plan to set aside time each morning to nourish yourself with a healthful breakfast before jumping into the day’s demands. “Pay attention to your body and give it what it needs in the moment,” Susan says. When you listen to what your body is telling you, you bring more awareness into your life.