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Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters

Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health: “Your Brain on Yoga”

The Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Lenox Massachusetts is a unique institution and community. If you don’t already know about, please allow me to introduce you to it. I just returned from directing a course there over the weekend based on my book entitled: “Wild Chickens and Petty Tyrants: Metaphors for Mindful Living.” Kripalu is a wonderful place situated in a landscape of soothing physical beauty in the Berkshire Mountains, it throbs with an energy of people seeking their truth through yoga, meditation, healing arts, among many other disciplines. A weekend workshop at Kripalu is a time to learn and to relax; to enjoy wholesome food and the company of dynamic and friendly people. Around the workshop times, yoga classes at different levels are offered including a yoga dance hour. I did this on Saturday. It was a fabulous workout and great fun, led by renown yoga dance teacher Toni Bergins, creator of Journey Dance. If you don’t want the structure of a workshop, you can go to Kripalu for Retreat and Renewal. Here you can partake in yoga classes and other classes, hike the grounds, sit in the sauna and enjoy the healing atmosphere of this magical place. I am pleased and proud to be a new member of the teaching faculty of this singular organization.
Kripalu offers training throughout the year for Yoga Teacher Training, Massage Therapy, and Ayurvedic Medicine. The Institute for Extraordinary Living (IEL) Directed by Stephen Cope is conducting research on the brain effects of yoga using neuroimaging. Sarah Lazar who has conducted ground breaking research on the brain effects of mindfulness meditation is leading the research. Yoga has penetrated our culture with 6.9% or 15.8 million people in the United States practicing yoga. Another 8% of population are interested in trying yoga. Kripalu Yoga emphasizes compassion and witness consciousness, representing a more contemplative form of yoga than the many varieties available to the interested seeker. The yoga efficacy study conducted by Sarah Lazar tested 16 yoga practitioners, 18 meditation practitioners, and 16 control subjects. All subjects underwent brain imaging via functional MRI (fMRI). Cortical thickness was measured for each group. Meditators meditated while in the MRI tube while yoga practitioners imagined going through a yoga routine (since the claustrophobic like confines of the MRI tube do not permit actual yoga asanas). Results will be published soon. The IEL is also conducting research on the beneficial effects of yoga on musical performance (in conjunction with the famed Tanglewood  Music Center) and the effects of yoga for veterans with posttruamatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Kripalu is a non-profit organization and thrives through the generosity of its donors and program participants. Visit them at http://kripalu.org/
I am currently in the process of planning my next teaching engagement at Kripalu, so stay tuned for more details.

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