This past weekend I left my life behind and went with a few dear friends to Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, a nonprofit yoga center located in the Berkshire Mountains. It was my 5th visit to this magical place.
Yoga on the mat
I have been practicing yoga on and off for about 15 years. My first exposure to yoga was through a Boston gym where Barron Baptiste was teaching a weekly class. My husband then gave me a gift certificate for 10 yoga classes at a local studio (which we took together). In no time I was hooked. Over the years I have experimented with many different types yoga and have changed my focus several times, depending on my needs.
What I have discovered is that all yoga is inherently part of the green movement. Aside from teaching various poses, it also teaches us about the interconnectedness of humans, the earth and the universe. Yoga stresses the importance of ahimsa: non-violence-not harming any living beings, and not stealing, accumulating or consuming more than we need.
This past weekend I learned from Beryl Bender Birch, who happens to be the first woman to teach ashtanga yoga on the East Coast. She is known for teaching yoga and meditation to skiers, runners and other athletes and understands that many of us still can’t touch our toes after years of practice. Throughout the weekend Beryl’s compassion for people and her passion for yoga shined through.
Yoga on and off the mat
In addition to a vigorous ashtanga practice Beryl shared many pearls of wisdom that I have found useful not only during my yoga practice, but all the time. I thought they were worthy of sharing (thank you to my friends for helping me remember each of these):
- Only put food on your plate that you know you will eat. You can always take more. If you are unsure whether or not you will like something take a taste and then decide if you want more. This made me think about how fortunate we are that we can get more. So many people don’t have that luxury.
- Leave no trail behind. When you are hiking, running, walking, camping take everything you came with home-including all of your garbage.
- Practice yoga on and off the mat. Integrate your practice into your everyday life. Live in and appreciate the present moment-the next moment will come regardless.
- Keep your eyes open during your yoga practice-and during your life. Have awareness for things around you and an appreciation for all that you have.
- Practice ahimsa: non violence, kindness to yourself, others and everything around you.
- Drink a lot of water (from your reusable water bottle of course!) to help your body detoxify.
One change I recently made was to purchase toxin free, eco-friendly yoga mat.
I am honored to have met Beryl Bender Birch this weekend. I am forever grateful for yoga and the richness it has brought into my life.
Have you have a yoga practice? Do you have any pearls of wisdom to share?
[Top photo used under Creative Commons from lululemon athletica/Flickr]
[Side photo used under Creative Commons from lululemon athletica/Flickr]