Welcoming the Karuna Community

Posted January 17th, 2012 by Karuna under Chants.

Welcome to Karuna’s blog page! Our intention is that this blog will become
a forum for the larger Karuna community to share their thoughts, inspiration, and
philosophical insights. We are excited to have this new tool to reach beyond the studio
walls!

May the information that shapes our ever evolving practice integrate into every aspect of our waking life. Our hope is that the blog can be an opportunity for everyone to swim in the ocean together towards the light.

The content of this blog includes:

  • Student and teacher writings
  • Yoga Philosophy Discussions
  • Resources for the enrichment of practice
  • Health and wellness tips
  • Events and Class Information
  • Healthy healing vegetarian recipes


Read the rest of this entry »


Plant Medicine

Posted June 9th, 2016 by Erin under Five Element Shiatsu Program, Health & Wellness, plant medicine, Recipes, Recommended Materials, shaitsu.

The following information was submitted by Eileen Daugherty, a student in Karuna’s 500-Hour Five Element Shiatsu Program ,as a part of the Local Herbs and Plants as Medicine component of the training. In this elective to the shiatsu program, students study with local herbalist Chris Marano, RH of Clearpath Herbals. Students take herbal walks and forage indigenous herbs to learn to make medicine in the form of tea, tinctures, glycerin, oil, and liniments.

Dandelion Root Tincture

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Dandelion Root Tincture

For years, dandelion has been used as a blood builder, detox and liver cleanser, especially in the spring – after the dormant winter months.  All parts of this ‘weed’ can be used as medicine – the leaves, the flowers and the roots. 

Dandelion is one of the top 6 herbs in the Chinese pharmacy of herbs.  It also appears in the US National Formulary and in the formularies in Hungary, Poland, Switzerland and Germany. 

The health benefits of the Dandelion root include:

  • one of best known blood builders and purifiers
  • safely reduces blood cholesterol
  • Contains Vitamin A, C, D and B complex
  • Contains iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium, manganese, copper and calcium
  • one of best liver cleansers
  • supports digestion of fats
  • speeds breakdown of various steroid hormones
  • helps flush out urinary tract between kidneys and bladder
  • helps build energy and endurance
  • good for use in hepatitis
  • increases activity of pancreas and spleen
  • strengthens female organs – excellent to prepare for pregnancy and estrogen balance
  • helps clean skin disorders.

What you need:

  • 2 year old, actively growing dandelion roots dug from a spray-free, pet-free  yard
  • spade to loosen soil from the roots
  • canning jar with a tight fitting lid
  • vodka, 80 proof

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Harvesting Dandelion Roots:

  • to dig roots, use a dandelion digger or a sturdy fork.
  • you want to break/damage the root as little as possible so you don’t lose much sap, which is where the medicinal properties lie.
  • Deep, rich soil will produce the thickest, easiest to harvest roots.

To Prepare the Tincture:

  • wash off the soil thoroughly
  • remove any crushed roots, leave root hairs
  • cut the roots into ½” sections
  • place roots in the canning jar, cover with vodka plus an inch or so, cap jar
  • steep contents for 3-4 months, in a dark cool place to full extract medicinal properties
  • when finished, strain off the tincture with a coffee filter, into dark bottles and label
  • discard the used root pieces.

Dosage:

  • ½ teaspoon 3-4 times a day
  • can be taken directly under the tongue and held in mouth for awhile and then swallowed.
  • can be placed in a small amount of water and swallowed
  • can be placed in a small amount of hot water, to evaporate off the alcohol.

Label and Date your final product.  Store in a dark place, out of direct sunlight.

  • use dandelion tincture with caution if you have gallbladder disease. 
  • Never use dandelion if you have an obstructed bile duct

Benefits of Dandelion Leaf

One of the main benefits of the dandelion leaf is the way it supports liver function.  Research has shown that dandelion leaf can promote healthy lipid profiles, reduced insulin resistance and suppressed fat accumulation in the livers of mice.  These benefits are likely due to the antioxidant content and the ability to calm systemic redness and irritation.

Some research suggests that dandelion leaf may protect the liver from acetaminophen toxicity.  Acetaminophen can produce oxidative stress which is especially hard on the liver.   Antioxidants like those within dandelion can be one of the best alternative therapies. 

Dandelion leaf can benefit the liver — and can also benefit other parts of the body:

  • Normal bile production supports efficient digestions which utilizes nutrients and purges toxins
  • Encourages fat metabolization, which helps achieve normal lipid levels
  • Helps to purify the blood.
  • Promotes normal blood sugar levels.

Dandelion leaf can be used as a green in salads, although it is bitter.  It is also offered in dried, loose leaf to be used as a tea. 

Plantain Salve

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Plantain Salve

Plantain, is sometimes called the band-aid plant.  Plantain contains iridoids, which have a very soothing, anti-inflammatory affect on the skin.  It also contains aglycone and aucubigenin, which have antimicrobial properties and allantoin, which support skin healing. 

Plantain is helpful for:

  • bee/wasp stings
  • spider bites
  • mosquito and other bug bites
  • poison ivy / poison oak/ sumac
  • eczema
  • psoriasis
  • sunburn
  • diaper rash

Ingredients – makes about 1 cup

  • 1 cup fresh plantain leaves (from an area with no chemicals), chopped  – use only very dry leaves.
  • 1 ½ cups olive oil or melted coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp grated beeswax, tightly packed
  • ½ – 1 tsp tea tree essential oil, optional

Quick Version:

Harvest leaves on a dry, sunny day.  Pull off any distressed parts and brush off dirt.

Chop leaves or grind in a food processor.

Place leaves in a clean, dry pint mason jar and cover with oil.  Oil should completely cover leaves.

Place a kitchen towel in the bottom of your crockpot and place jars inside.  Add enough water to cover about half the jar.  Set crockpot to lowest setting for 12-24 hours.

If desired, give the oil a quick swirl with an immersion blender to release more of the plant into the oil. 

Strain the oil through cheesecloth or a fine mesh sieve.  Let the oil sit for several hours.  If there is any water in the oil, it will collect in the bottom of the jar.  Removing water extends the shelf live of the salve.

Gently heat the beeswax in a double boiler.  When it is melted, add the plantain oil – taking care not to pour in any of the water that may have collected in the bottom of the jar.

Stir until thoroughly mixed.

If adding essential oils, wait until the mixture has cooled a bit and then stir them in.

Pour salve into clean, dry container and allow to cool. 

Slow Version:

Harvest leaves on a dry, sunny day.  Pull off any distressed parts and brush off dirt.

Chop leaves or grind in a food processor.

Place leaves in a clean, dry pint mason jar and cover with oil.  Oil should completely cover leaves with room for the leaves to expand a bit and go to the top of the jar.

Let jar sit for 4-6 weeks at room temperature.

Strain the oil through cheesecloth or a fine mesh sieve. 

If there is any water in the oil, it will collect in the bottom of the jar.  Removing water extends the shelf live of the salve.

Gently heat the beeswax in a double boiler.  When it is melted, add the plantain oil – taking care not to pour in any of the water that may have collected in the bottom of the jar.

Stir until thoroughly mixed.

If adding essential oils, wait until the mixture has cooled a bit and then stir them in.

Pour salve into clean, dry container and allow to cool.

Label and date the salve.

This comprehensive information on dandelion and plantain medicine is one example of the wonderful resource  the 500-Hour Five Element Shiatsu Program is to the Karuna community. Another great resource are the Shiatsu clinics coming up this August, September and October. Practitioners in the Shiatsu Certification Program will be offering 45 minute full body treatment for $25! For more information and to reserve a session click here

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Poetry from The Shiatsu Training

Posted March 13th, 2016 by Erin under Poems, Recommended Materials.

I feel lucky.  I feel grateful.  I feel.
I struggle with balance.  I struggle with weight. I struggle.
I love my friends. I love my family. I love.
I worry about gaining. I worry about losing. I worry.
I experience joy. I experience grief. I experience.
I encounter fear. I encounter anger. I encounter.
I sense peace. I sense energy. I sense.
I find balance. I lose balance. I rebalance. I continue.

 

I continue to feel lucky and grateful because I have freedom. Freedom to feel. Freedom to struggle. Freedom to love.
Freedom to worry. Freedom to experience. Freedom to encounter. Freedom to sense. Freedom to find. Freedom to lose.

by Michelle Eastman

 


200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training Program 2016

Posted February 29th, 2016 by Erin under Asana.

 

 

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Ella Maria Ciccone:

I graduated from the 200-hr Teacher Training program at Karuna Yoga in 2010. This training has been fundamental to my spiritual journey and confidence as a yoga student and teacher. Enrolling in the program, I knew that yoga was “for me,” but what I did not realize was how deeply that training would reach me—how much my heart would “crack open,” as Eileen says, and launch me into new dimensions of being. Eileen teaches with heart, from the heart, and she teaches with her eyes open. She watches and responds to her students and shows us that yoga is for every body, as well as a personal journey. Eileen’s program offers all students—regardless of body or age or experience– a technique and method for studying the art, science, and philosophy of yoga so that they themselves can learn better self-care and discover joy upon their path. She and the Karuna Yoga studio and community is there to support us on the way. The physical studio is completely beautiful: the energy and light of the space makes training feel delicious, safe, and welcoming–full of Light and Love. My heart sings at the health, joy, and good work that Karuna Yoga continues to inspire. Eileen’s teaching models lightness, clarity, insight, and intelligence. She inspires through her technique, her lively personality, her poetic presence, and her devotion to practice, scholarship, and the foundational principles of Yoga as an art, philosophy, and science. I’m grateful and devoted to the compassion that inspires our connection.

 

Karuna Center for Yoga and Healing Arts is happy to offer another 200-hour yoga teacher training program. This training is recommended for any serious yoga student who wishes to deepen his or her practice through this intensive and supportive study, or to explore yoga as a life-transforming path.

This year we will be exploring the teacher training differently, with a shorter program timeframe and a more intensive schedule. The program will run from March 19, 2016-October 2, 2016. There will be an online component, a required number of classes to attend, and an outside teaching requirement in order to fulfill the certification requirements. The program will meet for 6 weekends with one 5-day intensive. The 5-day intensive provides a chance to immerse yourself in the practice of asana, pranayama, meditation, and teaching, while working closely with a network of teachers to hone the craft of instruction.

The 200-hour course has a standard of excellence, and by the end of the training you will be confident and very well prepared to teach Yoga. It is in compliance with the standards of the nationally recognized Yoga Alliance.

The training dates are as follows:
  • March 19-20
  • April 2-3
  • May 2-6 (Week Long Intensive)
  • June 18-19
  • July 30-31
  • August 27-28
  • October 1-2

Please let us know of your interest.

Call 413-584-5054 to schedule an interview for the program or if you have any questions or want feedback as to your eligibility for the course.

Testimonials

Chris Marano

Chris Marano is the founder of Clearpath Herbals and he completed his 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training Certification with Eileen Muir in 2013.  Here is his final essay/talk to Eileen and the rest of the class on our graduation day, 11/24/13:

“I decided to do YTT for a few reasons. For one, two years ago my friend, Adam, collected on a promise and reminded me I would attend to my physical well being again after a quarter century of not paying attention.  I was ready for a solid gym workout, but when I walked into the space of Karuna a couple of years ago, I was transported to a younger time when I was deeply devoted to spiritual life, and I knew I was “home” again and started to remember why I incarnated.  And I found a teacher in Eileen worthy of my Chinese Chan master, Shifu Sheng yen. I won’t even begin to tell you how high a compliment that is.  I also am a proponent of the idea that if you really want to know something well, then learn it to teach it. And really, in the end, I also freely admit that I am a people person, and I love and trust my friends Adam and Owen, and I wanted to hang out with them doing something amazing together in addition to the many amazing things we already do. Other than that minimal expectation, I was psyched when the year began and I knew even more people in the class. It felt like being with family right from the start.

After a year, I’m humbled and truly grateful. I realize I’m a card-carrying beginner, and I am proud of it. I find myself at the starting line every day I open my eyes, and this is a wonderful thing. Every day I do yoga, every minute of the hour I return to yoga. Not necessarily asanas.  My asana practice is still solely what I do when I come to Karuna and what I do spontaneously when I am hanging out sitting, standing, walking, lying down doing other things. Embarrassed to say, I do not at this point have a home personal asana practice.  But yoga as spoken by Patanjali:  THAT is happening almost every waking moment. And although I am impressed by the physical changes that I have experienced – like shedding a forty-pound meat suit of narcotic-ifying comfort and resignation and becoming spry again – I am even more amazed by what I’m starting to feel under the surface. I feel like things are really starting to happen. I’m transforming, metamorphosing, really starting to feel better, not just less worse. I’m curious – like a wide-eyed seven-year old holding a chrysalis – wondering what could possibly happen next and being open to any of it.

It’s Central Channel all the way, and I ’m diamond hard sure and clear that I am walking the Central Channel of my life, destiny driven not fate driven, fully embracing Sign and everyday miracle as the natural order of existence. I get to play in limitless fields of possibility, dancing with qi, breathing the universe into existence. And it’s happening by way of the Eight Limbs. And for me, maybe most important, I don’t feel like I’m walking a mostly empty path anymore like I did all those years ago. I’ve got a growing community of younger folk to walk with.  I’m Italian, what can I tell you? Family is important to me.  I’m happy you all have arrived. I’ve been waiting 25 years for you all to show up. Not you Eileen, we came in on the same transport half a century plus ago. So. Ready? Now we can get down to the irreverently reverent business of enlightenment, for the individual and the collective.  It’s a New Dharma Age and we are breathing it and being breathed by it into existence.  We bought the ticket, let’s play the game and get our money’s worth.”

-Chris Marano

Sarah Berquist

Sarah Berquist completed the 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training in 2013

“From the deepest place of my heart, I highly recommend this training! This last year has been abundant with learning, love, laughter, wisdom, grace, and growth. I will forever be a student of Karuna and am so grateful to smilingly share and practice these transformative tools learned under the patient and loving teaching of Eileen Muir. If you’re interested or have questions, I’d be happy to chat! LOVE & LIGHT :)” – Sarah Berquist

Chloe Rombach

Chloe Rombach playing guitarChloe is a graduate of Karuna’s 2014 200-hour teacher training program.

During my last semester at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, I embarked on a yoga teacher training at Karuna in Northampton. My school gave me credit to complete the training as an independent study. If I hadn’t been able to get credit, I couldn’t have done the training at this time. I’m so grateful I was able to, because I feel much more prepared to go forth from college and chose paths that nourish me. My training at Karuna has helped me find my joy, heal my body and strengthen my practice. I’m only in my 5th of 11 months, but my growth is dramatic. Growth may not be the right word. It’s more like a shedding of things that are not serving me to find everything I need inside.

While my comfort and truth lies within, the right teacher has been essential to my discovery. Eileen Muir is one of the best teachers of my life, and I’ve been blessed with great guides. She holds her students to a high standard, but is always forgiving. She is spunky and fun and amazingly wise all at the same time. She is a true friend who is always there to listen to me (even if its just via text ) The loving community at Karuna is a reflection of her leadership and is unlike anything I’ve experienced at other studios.
My main goal entering this training was to heal my back. I had scoliosis and sciatica and had injured my low back in the month prior to my training. After the first training weekend, my low-back (which had plateaued at about 50% after rest) felt better than it had before my injury. My scoliosis is completely gone as of a month ago. Iyengar yoga brings compassion that is deep, true medicine. These amazing physical changes, which were all I wanted in the beginning, don’t compare to my spiritual, mental and emotional changes and I almost forget about them sometimes.
While we spend a lot of time on the asanas (postures), we meditate, practice pranayama and read a lot of texts as well. The moral guidance of the Sutras helps me heal emotional pain and unbalance. The meditation and pranayama practices have allowed a sense of calm and well being to slip into my life, like the comfort of having your hand held. Most importantly, I have found devotion and opened my heart to God. I hadn’t prayed since I was a child and wept when I did. There is debate over whether God is necessary to achieve enlightenment or liberation, but for me I know it absolutely is.
I can’t speak highly enough of Eileen and Karuna. I am so grateful for this experience and for this community. And getting credit to do this is a really awesome cherry on top. If you are a student in the area interested in doing a yoga teacher training, I urge you to do it at Karuna and to ask your advisor if you can get credit!

 


Finding Compassion in America’s Childcare System

Posted February 22nd, 2016 by admin under Recommended Materials.

A longtime student of Karuna, Elizabeth Gilbert recently shared her years of research and experience with The Washington Post in an article published on February 9th, 2016.

Click here to read the full article.

 

 


What is Shiatsu?

Posted October 22nd, 2015 by Erin under Health & Wellness, Recommended Materials.

What is Shiatsu?
 

As we prepare for our next 500-Hour Shiatsu Training Program, I decided to answer the question I hear the most: What is Shiatsu?

The translation of the word Shiatsu is “finger pressure.” In addition to applying pressure with fingers and thumbs, practitioners will utilize other techniques such as stretching and joint mobilization. They leverage the weight of their bodies to apply pressure to acupuncture points and meridians with their palms, elbows, knees, and other body parts in addition to their fingers. This pressure relieves tension and pain while improving body functions throughout the organ systems.

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Shiatsu is often used as a method to enhance health and can be used as preventative care treatment. Shiatsu addresses imbalances of the vital energy of our body or Qi (pronounced “chee”). Through Shiatsu treatments, the practitioner can help Qi return to balance and ideally bring the body into a balanced state of being. Graduates of our program will also apply a knowledge of the five elements to understand relationships between phenomena in the body and apply treatment.

Shiatsu is typically received while lying on the floor on a comfortable cushion or futon. You can expect the practitioner to ask about your physical and emotional health and feel the body’s Qi through diagnostic points on the belly, wrist, or back. The practitioner then plans a treatment based on the patient’s responses and the diagnostic results.

Graduates of our program can expect to learn how to provide a treatment based on diagnosis utilizing different methods of pressure, stretching, and joint mobilization with an understanding of Qi and the body’s relationship to the five elements. In addition, our graduates will have access to multiple teachers sharing elective subjects that will enhance their  treatments. Topics include: herbs, cupping, moxibustion, scraping, pulse evaluation, and more.

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For more information on our 500 Hour Five-Element Shiatsu program, you can click the link below:

http://karunayoga.com/karuna-five-element-shiatsu-program/

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From 1982-1984 Eileen studied at and graduated from the Ohashi Shiatsu Institute in New York City. She travelled to Japan in 1984 and lived there for a year and a half. She studied privately with two different Shiatsu teachers, both with very different styles. One teacher was Susuki Sensei of the Masanaga School of Tokyo, and the other was a little old man called Yamamoto Sensei, who taught in the Namikoshi style. Eileen graduated from the Swedish Institute of NYC in 1987 and taught level one through advanced Shiatsu there from 1987-1995. She developed and taught a Shiatsu/yoga curriculum for the New York Open Center, and taught there from 1989-1995. Eileen volunteered at the Gay Men’s Health Crisis and worked extensively with patients with HIV and cancer for several years. Eileen has had a private Shiatsu practice since 1983. She is the only AOBTA-Certified Instructor in the New England area who is offering a 500-Hour Certification Program in Five-Element Shiatsu.


Key Elements of a Kapha Balancing Practice

Posted September 17th, 2015 by Erin under Recommended Materials.

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Some Key Elements of a Kapha Balancing Practice:

Choosing the following practices when feeling sluggish, stuck, clingy, unmotivated, tired, depressed…will move you back towards balance.  The more consistently you work with these elements in your practice, the deeper and more sustained the effects will become.

Move your body!  Although it may be difficult to tap into at first, Kapha types have a lot of stamina!  Push yourself to do a little more.  Include sun salutations and other vinyasas, jumpings, balancings, inversions, and then include them all over again ☺

Chest up! Arms up! Spirit up!  Lift your chest high, and lift your arms straight up over your head and your energy will come up too.  Lifting the chest and opening the armpits is one of the most important tools in yoga therapeutics to ward off depression.

Jump!  Jumping from pose to pose (rather than stepping one foot at a time) brings levity, excitement, enthusiasm, joy, delight, and freedom.

-Open your chest!  Opening your chest brings joy and allows the breath to move freely.  Begin with shoulder-opening work and move on to practice some backbending poses.

Adho Mukha Vrskasana & Sirsasana.  These inversions (handstand and headstand) create heat in the body, and increase strength and stamina.  Both poses also increase circulation of blood and lymph.

Practice balancing.  Working on balancing poses gives a sense of poise, achievement and grace.  And if you’re not quite at the “grace” part of your practice, be childlike in your practice: Have fun!  Fall over!  Try again!  Try a different way!  Be tireless!!

Don’t go to sleep.  Savasana is not naptime!  During Savasana, challenge yourself to stay alert and present.  Remember that you are the Witness to your own self.  The body relaxes, while you observe this relaxation.

Do one thing.  If the thought of getting up and doing your yoga practice seems impossible, what’s one thing you can do?  Can you go stand on your mat?  And since you’re there, can you stand in Tadasana?  And while you’re at it, maybe take your arms up overhead?  What else?

Vanessa Serotta

Vanessa Serotta is a 500-hour RYT.  She received her certification from Eileen Muir.  She values the way asana practice brings us to know ourselves more intimately, and looks to the teachings of yoga philosophy to go deeper still.  In each of her classes, Vanessa offers her students an opportunity to make and savor this connection for themselves.

Email: vanessa.serotta@gmail.com


Key Elements of a Pitta Balancing Practice

Posted September 17th, 2015 by Erin under Recommended Materials.

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Key Elements of a Pitta Balancing Practice:

Choosing the following practices when feeling irritable, defensive, angry, frustrated, judgmental, jealous, resentful…will move you back towards balance.  The more consistently you work with these elements in your practice, the deeper and more sustained the effects will become.

Easy does it!  The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long.  Pitta types are ambitious and physically capable, which can lead to a tendency to want to push their limits.  Pace yourself to avoid a crash and burn situation.

Stay cool.  Especially during Summer (Pitta time), be sure that you’re not overheating.  Work with a slower practice of fewer, slightly longer holdings of poses, rather than a more active practice with Vinyasas or jumpings.

Forward bends.  As a category, forward bends are physiologically cooling to the brain and body.  They teach us surrender.  Begin with standing forward bends to begin to open the hamstring muscles, and move into seated forward bends, for maximum cooling, quieting and settling.

Don’t overdo backbends or twists.  When practicing backbends, moderate you exertion and your energy.  Backbends release a lot of energy and a lot of heat.  Twists also release a lot of heat, so be sure to follow up with plenty of cooling poses.  Work slowly, and turn your focus inward.  Pause after each pose to feel the effects.

Sarvangasana.  Sarvangasana (shoulderstand) is deeply, wonderfully cooling and balancing.  If Sarvansasana is new for you, practice Setu Bandha (bridge pose) for as long as it takes to learn the correct alignment in your body before beginning to practice Sarvangasana.  Always practice Sarvangasana or another cooling pose after practicing Sirsasana (headstand), which can be a very hot pose.

Ahimsa.  The very first in the eight limbs of Yoga is the list of five Yamas (moral abstentions), and the first in this list of five is Ahimsa, which means “non-harming”,  Be sweet with yourself!  As you practice, from moment to moment, ask yourself, what is Ahmisa in this moment.  Minister this question with total Love and total acceptance

Isvara-pranidhanad.  The second of the eight limbs of Yoga are the five Niyamas (moral observances).  Isvara-pranidhanad is last on this list of Niyamas.  It means surrender to God.  If this concept doesn’t work for you, work with the simple practice of surrendering.  In life, in our minds, and in our bodies, there is much we can’t control.  In your asana practice, do what you can, and let the rest go.  Thank your body for everything it does for you each and every day.

Vanessa Serotta

Vanessa Serotta is a 500-hour RYT.  She received her certification from Eileen Muir.  She values the way asana practice brings us to know ourselves more intimately, and looks to the teachings of yoga philosophy to go deeper still.  In each of her classes, Vanessa offers her students an opportunity to make and savor this connection for themselves.

Email: vanessa.serotta@gmail.com


Key Elements of a Vata Balancing Practice

Posted September 17th, 2015 by Erin under Recommended Materials.

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Some Key Elements of  a Vata Balancing Practice:

Choosing the following practices when feeling fatigued, stressed, anxious, ungrounded, nervous, agitated, unable to sleep, overwhelmed, indecisive, frazzled, depleted (need I go on?) will move you back towards balance.  The more consistently you work with these elements in your practice, the deeper and more sustained the effects will become.

Most importantly, less is more!  When we are feeling depleted or overwhelmed, one supported pose held for 5-30 minutes will restore you deeply.  A more active, exertive practice can exacerbate your symptoms.

Support yourself, especially your head.  Use bolsters, blocks, blankets, chairs, cushions, the couch, the edge of your bed, and anything else that does the job .  Supporting the head quiets the brain and soothes the nervous system.  Supporting the rest of the body allows it to rest deeply.

Sandbags.  Applying weight to the limbs is extremely soothing to the nervous system.  Place sandbags on the arms, legs, sacrum or shoulders to teach the body to release and surrender.  A sandbag on the forehead of an overactive brain is bliss (think Shirodhara).

Pratyahara/withdrawing the senses.  Use an eye pillow or a head wrap to turn the senses (sight and hearing) inwardly.  Sights and sounds draw our attention outward, which takes its toll.  When we turn the eyes and ears towards our inner self, we take a break from the stimulations of life, and can rest.

Inversions.  Inversions balance the hormone systems in the body, including stress hormones.  Choose well-supported inversions that allow the body to relax.  Chair Sarvangasana (shoulder stand), Viparita Karani (legs up the wall), and Viparita Dandasana (inverted staff pose) over a chair are excellent choices.

Pranayama.  Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) and Samana Vayu (equal lengths inhalation and exhalation) are very balancing.  Bhramari (bumblebee breath) with Sanmuki Mudra helps sooth insomnia.  Focusing on your exhalation will sooth and relax, and focusing on the inhalation will energize and replenish you.

Keep warm.  Restorative yoga brings the body temperature down, and Vata types run cold, so wear your sweaters, cover yourself with blankets, and camp out in front of the wood stove or a space heater.

Vanessa Serotta

Vanessa Serotta is a 500-hour RYT.  She received her certification from Eileen Muir.  She values the way asana practice brings us to know ourselves more intimately, and looks to the teachings of yoga philosophy to go deeper still.  In each of her classes, Vanessa offers her students an opportunity to make and savor this connection for themselves.

Email: vanessa.serotta@gmail.com


Intro to Ayurveda

Posted September 17th, 2015 by Erin under Recommended Materials.

The 5 Elements create everything in the universe- including us!

• Space
• Air
• Fire
• Water
• Earth
.
The 3 Doshas

imgresVATA: Communication + Transportation

Space + Air
Cold, dry, light, fast, mobile, rough
Balanced: friendly, creative, busy, social, upbeat

Unbalanced: Anxiety, insomnia, constipation, memory problems
 Treatment: Warm, well-spiced foods, abhyanga, meditation

imgres-1PITTA: Metabolism + Assimilation

Fire + Water
Hot, light, sharp, oily, smooth, fluid
Balanced: Intelligent, charismatic, organized, productive

Unbalanced: Irritable, critical, skin + eye problems, inflammation
Treatment: Cooling foods, anti-inflammatory diet, calm environment

imgres-2KAPHA Structure + Lubrication

Water + Earth
Heavy, dense, cold, wet, static/slow, oily
Balanced: Loving, strong, loyal, steadfast, peaceful
Unbalanced: Overweight, depressed, exhausted, listless
Treatment: Light spicy foods, daily exercises, cleansing routines

 

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Ayurvedic Practices

  • ✴  Establish a proper diet for your constitution and eat seasonally
  • ✴  Develop a healthy Dinacharya (daily routine)
  • ✴  Take herbal preparations as recommended
  • ✴  Receive Ayurvedic Bodywork- abhyanga, shirodhara, etc
  • ✴  Participate in seasonal Cleanses 1-2 times each year

Sample Dinacharya

  • ✴  Rise with the sun
  • ✴  Drink a cup of warm water
  • ✴  Brush teeth, scrape tongue, oil pulling, nasya
  • ✴  Evacuate bowels
  • ✴  Yoga (or other exercise)
  • ✴  Meditation, pranayama, mantra
  • ✴  Abhyanga before shower or bath
  • ✴  Eat a warm breakfast
  • ✴  Drink warm water throughout the day
  • ✴  Eat your largest meal in the middle of the day
  • ✴  Walk or take some quiet time after eating
  • ✴  Practice one-minute mediations throughout the day
  • ✴  Eat a small dinner at least two hours before going to bed
  • ✴  Drink a nourishing beverage
  • ✴  Oil the crown of your head and your feet
  • ✴  Do a few minutes of meditation or pranayama, yoga postures or gentle stretching
  • ✴  Give thanks
  • ✴  Retire

This Introduction was prepaired by Brooksley Williams of Valley Ayurveda. If you have any questions please contact Brooksley via email brooksley@valleyayurveda.com or by phone: 413-320-8333.


Yoga for your Ayurvedic Constitution

Posted September 3rd, 2015 by Erin under Recommended Materials.

Karuna is currently leading a series of workshops Yoga for your Ayurvedic Constitution. Each workshop is focused on one of the three Doshas or constitutions: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. The workshops are co-led by Vanessa Serotta, RYT- 500 and Brooksley Williams, certified Ayurvedic Practitioner.

VataVATA: A Grounding Practice
 Saturday, Aug. 29th, 1-3:30pm

PittaPITTA: A Centering Practice
 Saturday, Sept. 5th, 1-3:30pm

KaphaKAPHA: An Uplifting Practice
 Saturday, Sept. 12th, 1-3:30pm


 

In order to help us understand the way the body is perceived in Ayurvedic Medicine, Brooksley has provided some supplemental materials that we will be featuring here in the blog. If you have any questions please contact Brooksley via email brooksley@valleyayurveda.com or by phone: 413-320-8333.

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10 Pairs of Opposites

Ayurveda draws on ten pairs of opposites to describe and in a way categorize all matter that exists in the universe. These qualities, or gunas, describe the interaction and inner-workings of the main energy forces – the Five Great Elements – on a particular object. They reflect the positive and negative, yin and yang of all forces in the universe. They are the basic qualities of all objects – physical or subtle. They provide a spectrum to describe the essence of our life.

Heavy ⇔ Light

 Cold⇔ Hot

Dull⇔ Sharp

Oily⇔ Dry Rough

 Smooth ⇔Rough

Dense ⇔Porous

Soft ⇔Hard

Static ⇔Mobile

Cloudy ⇔Clear

Solid ⇔  Liquid

 

At a practical level, our bodies as well as the foods we eat reflect a prevailing yet shifting degree and combination of these qualities. The underlying premise of all Ayurvedic practices and treatments is: like increases like and opposites balance each other. In this way, Ayurveda prescribes the use of foods, herbs, exercise, and daily routines with a specific set of these qualities in order to counter and heal specific imbalances in the body and mind.

In particular, all foods can be described using these 20 qualities – or ten pairs of opposites. For example, heavy foods include grains, cheese, yogurt, salty processed food and red meats whereas light foods include leafy veggies and herbs like turmeric and coriander. Cold foods include cucumber, watermelon and fennel while hot foods include ginger and chile peppers. Dry foods include millet, barley, dry fruits and toast, whereas oily foods include butter, ghee, oils, nuts and seeds, and fried foods. It is helpful to start thinking of food through these adjectives, in order to know what foods to eat to balance qualities that prevail in you based on yourMind/Body Constitution.