Even when you feel ready to go deeper in your yoga practice, classes that are labeled “advanced,” “Level 3,” or “vigorous” can feel intimidating. So how can you play your edge and also stay safe in your body when you find yourself in a more challenging practice? Here are six ways to stay centered when […]
by Sarajean Rudman Does this sound familiar? The alarm clock rings, and you hit the ground running. You speed through a frenetic morning routine, and on to your rushed commute. At work, you just make it to your first meeting, and then you skip lunch to meet a deadline. Finally, at the end of your work […]
by Reyna Eisenstark I started taking yoga classes in New York City in the mid-1990s. Gyms had begun to offer yoga, and the classes were fast and athletic—like nothing I had associated with yoga before. Yoga had become a workout. I happened to be at the exact right place and time to witness the birth […]
I’ve been freelancing for more than 15 years now. As often as possible, I’ve focused my work in the natural-health field—as a host, producer, writer, voice-over talent, even as an actor on occasion. Sometimes, I’m very busy, juggling a number of projects; sometimes, everything wraps up at once and I’m not sure what’s next. It […]
There are times when a radical change of course is necessary in life. The old way just isn’t working anymore; a new approach is required. We don’t know where we’re headed, but we know it’s time to forge a new path. Transformation is imminent.
I was at such a juncture a couple of years ago. Newly divorced and living 10 minutes from my ex-husband, I felt stuck in my past. Surrounded by reminder after reminder of my former life, I felt the need to alter my geography to jumpstart a transformation. With a hearty dose of trepidation and anticipation, I left Boston and moved to Los Angeles.
The other day at the end of a vinyasa yoga class I did my usual thing of plopping down and gearing up for Savasana with no blanket or sweater to get warm and cozy. Being in a large, chilly room, I sensed that I might need extra warmth but paid no mind. The teacher, Andrew, prompted us to “Take this time to allow the hard work to land, and nurture your self in resting pose.” Upon hitting the deck and doing my utmost to actually get comfortable—doing a brief body scan to relax myself—I lay there wondering why my need to be self-sufficient had, yet again, left me bare-skinned and frigid, trying to relax my shivering bones into Corpse pose.
Being somewhat small in stature, and a good-natured vata/pitta, my tendency is to be high energy and cold most of the time. Andrew started to walk around the room, his soothing voice gently guiding the group into a restful state, and asked anyone who might want a blanket to raise their hand. I pondered his offer and observed myself as I refused to raise my hand, even though I was chilly and unable to settle comfortably into Savasana.
Where Yoga and Shamanism Meet, Bold Directions Unfold
In 2006, Kripalu faculty member Ray Crist was recovering from a debilitating illness. A yoga teacher, martial artist, and Reiki practitioner, Ray had spent four years traveling the world seeking those who could heal him. His quest took him from the Buddhist monasteries on the borders of Cambodia to the clinics of the National Institutes of Health in Maryland. But when he ventured into the jungles of Peru to study with Incan shamans, the experience opened new doors of perception—and healing—within himself.
Guided by Don Manuel Portugal, a shaman in Cuzco, Peru, Ray discovered the culture, mythology, and practices of Incan shamanism. “Shamans are the medicine people of their tribe,” Ray says. “Their methods of healing center on the ‘energy body’ and plant medicine.” The deeper he delved into Incan shamanism, the more he began to notice profound similarities with yoga. “Yogis and shamans view the world as a physical world,” he explains. “Traumatic experiences are embedded in the body—near a joint, muscle, meridian, internal organ, or chakra. Yoga and shamanism help us delve into the root of our traumas to find healing on physical and emotional levels.” Ray began incorporating shamanistic principles into his yoga practice, imbuing it with a new richness. “Shamanism brought to my practice a direct awareness of energy moving through my body, a visceral understanding of what each asana offers,” he says.