In February I was fortunate to find myself in the USA. I fulfilled a yearning to go back to the Kripalu Center which 11 years before changed the path of my life.
Kripalu is well established in the USA as a center for Yoga, Personal and Spiritual Development. The guardians of the tradition have worked diligently to maintain the original teachings of Swami Kripalu. Whilst establishing it as a shining example of a non-profit institute visited by 40,000 guests a year.
As I heard the familiar language of the Kripalu teachers, the inner and outer smile just wouldn't go away. For me it is this guidance that sets Kripalu yoga apart. Invited to be in your body, to explore sensations without judgment, to show compassion and acceptance for anything that reveals itself. Nothing fancy, simply awareness and compassion. The message was consistent in the classes or drum circle, from kirtan to the dining hall
I was hungry to follow as many Kripalu Yoga classes as possible. Classes run throughout the day from 06:30 as well as Yoga Dance, sound workshops and more. Throughout the year there are hundreds of Personal Development Programmes scheduled, facilitated by highly skilled and learned teachers. A popular option is an R&R rest and relaxation programme.
One of the highlights of being in the Kripalu cocoon is the mouth watering dining hall. Some days I managed 3 yoga classes a day alongside my programme. Fortunately this honed my appetite to try out such delicacies as baked oatmeal for breakfast, tempeh and potato patties and delicious Indian spiced dishes influenced by their world renowned School of Ayurveda.
If you are searching for a well grounded and rounded yoga teacher training my advice would be to definitely explore the options at Kripalu. Likewise check out the curriculum of the School of Ayurveda and the many programmes for Personal Growth and Transformation
Yoga and the quest for the True Self, Cope,Stephen (2000)
Just spent a week at Puyssentut in the company of 5 very inspiring ladies in various stages of treatment for cancer.
Our hosts DK & Angela provided a really beautiful warm, safe and loving environment in the renovated chateau. Melanie cooked fabulous macrobiotic food, the health benefits were palpable as everyone grew stronger and glowed. Sangeeta led the daily yoga classes from which the ladies emerged energized and positive.
Els and I provided the therapy in the wonderful natural stone, really cozy therapy rooms and we all saw the ladies tackling their process head on and emerging the other side with hope, determination and trust after a week of the best care. Not forgetting the the long walks and adventures in the glorious French countryside, we only got lost a few
Many people come to me for an appointment with neck, shoulder, and back stiffness which causes them discomfort and sometimes headache. Pain is the bodies’ cry for attention indicating that something is out of balance.
As I work on bodies of all shapes and sizes, I notice that there is often very little and sometimes no movement in the torso. If you watch someone sleeping you can observe the natural state as the whole upper body fills and sinks with the breath. If we imagine inhaling into the lungs like an expanding balloon, the torso would expand to the front into the ribs, into the back. around the spine, upwards under the collar bones and the upper back, and if deep enough, to the belly and lumbar spine. This is a natural mechanism and it keeps us alive. The air inhaled, fuels the metabolic process which provides energy and renewal of cells, and allows the heart to pump. In Traditional Chinese Medicine the air that we breath; Kong qi (chi) combines with the food and water that we eat; Gu qi. This combination is vital to our well being.
The expiration releases waste products from the body. This movement also maintains some pliability in the layers of tissue.
A healthy body has tone and is pliable when pressed; imagine a ripe mango. Whereas a body holding tension where the layers of tissue are not moved by the breath, feels hard and resistant to the touch. Look at the wizened citrus fruit. Although the inside may still be soft, the outer casing is brittle, like a shell (fig1.) A fresh lemon is succulent and yields to finger pressure (fig2.)
So the natural reflex when feeling the sensation of hand pressure would be to exhale and subsequently to inhale, but when there is resistance, like the brittle shell, the feeling sensation is less. Often I encourage the person underneath my hands to inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth, even to make a sound. In my tradition of Kripalu Yoga, we explore how reflex sighs, sounds and spontaneous stretches allow tension to be released from the body, which in turn calms the mind.
I often ask myself whether it is considered impolite in our society to utter a sigh, or a sound.
If I ask a client “Do you notice yourself holding your breath” many of my clients say “Yes”. I suggest that an exhale will be a step to developing a healthier and habitual response to the breath holding. Although I did have one client who replied “ I don’t have time to do that”!
Breathing into the belly takes us to our feeling centre. There are millions of nerve endings in the gut see: “our second brain’ http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=gut-second-brain
It can be that we unconsciously don’t go to that place with the deep breath in order to avoid feeling. Anyway, that’s an interesting subject for another blog. Take the time to practice a couple of extra deep breaths a day. Out for a walk, in the bathroom, at the office or watching the TV. Breathe in, hunch the shoulders up to the ears, squeeze the face and fists, and then exhale with a sigh. Let me know how it feels