Archive for the ‘Recommended Materials’ Category

Winter Solstice Kirtan Fundraiser

Thursday, December 6th, 2018

Yoga Your Road Trip

Thursday, July 19th, 2018
Are you planning on taking a road trip this summer? As we know, sitting for long periods of time can create stiffness and discomfort.  When you stop to gas up your car or to get some food, take a few minutes to stretch. You can even use your car as a tool for quick yoga practice.  The secret is to stretch the quadriceps, hamstrings, and move the spine in every direction. Here are some poses to try:
    • Downward facing dog with your hands on the trunk of your car.
    • Forearm downward dog
    • Upward facing dog with your hands on the trunk
    • Extended leg pose
    • Standing
    • Forward bend
    • Wall twist using your car’s bumper
  • Savasana

Karuna VLOG: Cooling Pranayama Practice with Paul Menard

Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

Video Blog: Relieve Sinus Pressure this Allergy Season

Friday, May 18th, 2018

Natural Remedies to Combat Seasonal Allergies

Wednesday, May 9th, 2018
Allergy season is upon us. How can we use natural methods to combat seasonal allergies? Here are a few quick things that we can do in our daily life and practice:
  1. Avoid foods that create histamine. Foods like dairy, alcoholic beverages, and fermented foods (even vinegar, Kambucha, soy sauce) help the body to create histamine and therefore can make allergy symptoms more prevalent. So, if you are affected by seasonal allergies, you may want to lay off the pickles for a while.
  2. Eat foods that are natural antihistamines like  garlic, onions, citrus, and broccoli.
  3. Commit to a yoga practice that utilizes plenty of inversions such as headstands and shoulderstands; Forward bends like uttanasana, prasarita  padottanasana, and downward-facing dog.
  4. Herbs like stinging nettle, echinacea, sage,  horehound, goldenrod, and reishi mushrooms can also be helpful in treating allergies and their symptoms.
 Enjoy an allergy free spring.

The Benefits of Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana

Thursday, April 19th, 2018

Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana is believed to symbolize saluting of the divine force within us all, as stated by B.K.S. Iyengar.  As you can see in both the supported and classic version of the pose, this backbend is fairly intense. The shoulders are very open, the spine is in full extension (including the cervical spine of the neck), and the hip flexors are getting stretched as well.


Why should we do poses like this inverted stick pose?

Back bends are performed in our yoga practice to keep the spine erect and supple.  By working against gravity, we are also working against the rounding of of the spine that comes with age.  Because backbends open the chest and the heart, they’re also thought to ward off depression.

We can make this pose more accessible by using props such as chairs and bolsters so that these incredible benefits can be shared with everyone.

Shiatsu & Body Work Menu

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018

Karuna offers Shiatsu and
Body Work Services


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

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”).


An ancient form of therapy in which a local suction is created on the skin, mobilizing blood flow in order to promote healing. Suction is created using heat (fire) or a suction pump. Cupping helps to treat pain (especially around the joints), deep scar tissue in the muscles and connective tissue, muscle knots, and swelling.


A traditional Chinese medicine therapy utilizing burning moxa made from dried mugwort near the skin. Paul will use moxa to warm regions and meridian points with the intention of stimulating circulation and inducing a smoother flow of blood and qi. Moxibustion can treat conditions associated with the “cold” or “yang deficiencies” in Chinese Medicine.

Gua Sha

Chinese medical treatment in which the skin is scraped to produce light bruising. Practitioners believe gua sha releases unhealthy elements from injured areas and stimulates blood flow and healing.

Facial Gua Sha

The facial application stimulates blood circulation and detoxification, while relaxing tense muscles that cause wrinkles to form. The “Eastern Face Lift” smoothes fine lines and wrinkles, plumps, tightens and rejuvenates skin; even decreases dark under-eye circles and puffiness.

Full Body Stretch

Are you feeling sore? Stiff? The Full Body Stretch softly opens and warms the body to release tension and stress while relaxing the brain and nervous system.


Cost of Services

60 Minute Shiatsu / Combination Bodywork Treatment: $65

60 Minute Couples Shiatsu: $80

30 Minute Cupping and Massage: $35

30 Minute Facial Gua Sha: $35


  • 5 60-Minute Shiatsu Sessions: $300
  • 10 60-Minute Shiatsu Sessions: $550
  • 5 30-Minute Sessions: $165
  • 10 30-Minute Sessions: $300

To make an appointment, call 413.584.5054 or email 

Karuna is a Fragrance-Free Zone

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

Karuna is a Fragrance-Free Zone

Karuna Center for Yoga and Healing Arts is a place where all can enter safely. We request that you make an effort to refrain from using scented products. We understand the challenges of this request; please know that we are all in the process of increasing our awareness and sensitivity.

Please refrain from using any perfumes, colognes, scented oils (even natural ones), or aftershave—when coming to be a part of the space. Less obvious sources of fragrances include cosmetics, laundry detergent, fabric softeners, drier sheets, soaps, shampoos, hand lotions, face creams, deodorants, and sunscreen. Even air freshener, incense, and scented candle aroma can be absorbed in clothing and hair. Sweaters, jackets, and fabric purses will also pick up fragrances.

Thank you for being mindful and making Karuna a welcome space for everyone.

Facts about Chemical / Fragrance Sensitivity:

One in five people experience health problems when exposed to fragrances.

These include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Central Nervous System Dysfunction
  • Asthma
  • Coughing
  • Cancer
  • Mood Changes
  • Difficulty Concentrating

Did you know?

  • A single fragrance can contain anywhere from 10 to several hundred chemicals.
  • 95% of chemicals used in fragrances are synthetic compounds derived from petroleum and have not been tested for human toxicity.
  • EI (Environmental Illness) is widespread and increasing rapidly.
  • Anyone can develop EI or MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity). Fragrance Exposure is hazardous to everyone.
  • A person with EI or MCS needs to avoid personal use of scented products, but also needs to avoid other people who use scented products or who may have picked up scents from places they have been.
  • Second-hand fragrances are as toxic as second-hand smoke.
  • Once sensitivity has occurred, even small exposures can trigger debilitating conditions.

Twist Your Way into Spring – Detox Diet

Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

Register today for the TWIST YOUR WAY INTO SPRING workshop with Paul Menard
April 7, 2019
1pm to 4pm
$45 in advance / $50 at the door

Click HERE to reserve your space in the workshop

Twist  Your Way into Spring – Detox Diet
Courtesy of Acadia Herbals

Detox Diet: Get everything you need for this 3 – 10 Day Detox from Acadia Herbals!  Please call ahead to purchase a bag of the herbs ($7/bag): Acadia Herbals 413-584-8198  (Shop is open Tues – Sat, 11 – 6.)

A Gentle Spring Fast
When you embark upon a detoxification program to restore your body, always follow the recipe as given. The information that follows is in no way considered a substitute for consultation diagnosis and/or treatment by a duly licensed physician or other health-care professional. Children under the age of 12, pregnant women, and underweight people should not fast. Those with medical conditions, such as diabetes, low blood sugar, cancer, and drug or alcohol abuse, need supervision.

Detox Diet
Time frame: 3-10 days
All of the fruits and vegetables needed to stimulate the body to cleanse and eliminate in spring are contained in this simple fast based on the Chinese Five Element theory. Choose the foods that are readily available in your area from the list below. A three-day fast helps the body get rid of toxins. A five-day fast starts the healing process. A ten-day fast completely cleanses and renews your bloodstream and should take care of most problems before they arise. A ten-day fast is beneficial to do twice a year, particularly in the spring and the autumn.

8 a.m. to 12 noon
Kiwis, oranges, limes, grapefruit, lemons, apples, applesauce (no sugar), apple juice, filtered water, herbal teas (such as red clover, dandelion leaf, and peppermint). The above foods can be taken in solid or liquid form. Choose one or more and eat and drink as much as you like until noon. To strengthen the optic nerves, combine freshly squeezed lemons with grapefruit and limes with an orange.

12 noon to 8 p.m.
Asparagus, beets, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, leafy greens and dark green vegetables, carrots, dandelion leaves, parsnip, potatoes with skins, garlic, olive oil, parsley, sprouts, apple juice, pure water, and herbal teas. The above foods can be taken in solid or liquid form. The vegetables can be raw, steamed, baked or roasted, and a simple dressing can be made from the garlic, lemon, peppermint, olive oil, and parsley. It is best to have a combination of cooked and raw foods at each meal to supply the live enzymes needed for proper digestion.

Buckthorn Bark Tea
6 cups filtered water
2 tablespoons red clover
2 tablespoons milk thistle
2 tablespoons dandelion leaf
2 tablespoons peppermint leaf
3 tablespoons buckthorn bark

Buckthorn bark is a mild laxative herb, safe to use over an extended period of time. When combined with blood-purifying herbs, buckthorn bark helps to carry blood and liver toxins out of the body. On the first day of your fast, make this tea and drink one cup in the morning and one cup before bedtime to maintain regularity. The tea will keep refrigerated for three days and may be gently warmed; boiling the tea will destroy the medicinal properties of the herbs.

Bring the water to a boil. Remove from heat and add all herbs. Cover and allow to steep for 30 minutes to one hour. Strain before using.

**A note on the buckthorn bark tea as mentioned in the Yoga Journal diet: I couldn’t find any buckthorn, which is a gentle laxative. I made the tea without it because the remaining herbs are reputed to be liver-cleansing agents. The herbal compound Swiss Kriss may be helpful.

Liver Cleansing Drink (Spring version)
2 pieces fresh ginger, chopped (each about the size of a 50-cent piece)
1 orange peeled and divided into sections
1.3 cup or less organic apple juice
1 kiwi, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon organic flax seed oil
½ lemon, juiced
3 or 4 frozen unsweetened strawberries (or ice cubes)
Pinch of cayenne pepper

Place first three ingredients in a blender; blend on high until ginger is pulverized. Add rest of ingredients and blend again.

Cook’s notes:
This drink can be altered to taste, however, the lemon, ginger, orange, pepper, and flax seed oil are constants. It is helpful to drink two glasses of water upon rising, and then have this drink for breakfast. When it is not spring cleaning time, you can add 1/3 to ½ banana (or more) for a little more staying power as well as a bit of protein powder. The drink can be used in combination with the Yoga Journal cleansing diet. (I stayed on the diet for five days. For the following two weeks I will modify the diet by adding  legumes and salads. I’m not sure what else but will avoid wheat, dairy, meat, etc. and will do my best to avoid sugar and caffeine).

Simple, meditative yoga exercises will help to balance and stimulate your inner organs while fasting. Heavy exercise is best kept to a minimum as your body does its work internally. Yoga also enhances the calm, balance, and peaceful state of mind the fast produces.

Super skin
The skin is the body’s largest organ of elimination. Dry skin brushing benefits the lymphatic system and stimulates your whole body. With a long-handled, natural bristle scrub brush, stroke the skin gently in the direction of your heart, much like you would use a brush to stroke your hair. Use the dry skin brush everywhere except for your face, which requires a smaller, softer brush. You may enjoy dry skin brushing enough to make it part of your daily routine. Avoid using non-biodegradable soaps and lotions containing mineral oil on your skin.

Time, peace, and privacy enhance a fast. This is a good time to reflect, meditate, and be in nature, as you become aware of what does and does not nourish you. If you find it difficult to retreat altogether, be creative. Plan carefully. Ask yourself what you want to achieve in this fast, then begin in full acceptance of yourself.

Menu to break the fast
Build on the detox diet by adding spring grains such as barley, quinoa, wheat, millet, and rye. Eat plain goat’s milk yogurt flavored with apple juice and spices. Goat’s milk cheeses and fish or free range poultry can be eaten once a week.

Plant Medicine

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

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


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


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.


  • 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


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