Tag Archives: new york

Snow Problems: Suggestions for Surviving This Wicked Winter

christmas_snowy_road-1809I live in New York City which has been smacked with the worst winter in over three decades. However, if you reside in one of the few areas left that hasn’t been hit with record cold or sleet and snow –yes, I’m talking about you L.A. and Honolulu — no need to read any further. Then again, no matter which part of the country you happen to call home, you are most likely suffering from SAD, the inevitable seasonal affective disorder, also known as winter depression or lack-of-daylight blues. So it’s high time for some much-needed advice to help uplift our spirits. For this, I turned to Colin Christopher, a clinical hypnotherapist and author of the bestselling book, Success Through Manipulation: Subconscious Reactions That Will Make or Break You. Christopher, you see, contends that whether you are simply fed up with slogging through yet another round of slush, or just feeling down from time to time, there are ways to find positives to help you become Better Than Before — before springtime.

After all, even bears learn to cope with the cold — and so can we. To that end, here are Christopher’s tried and true techniques that work to reprogram our minds:

• Change the colors of your environment: Color plays a huge role in setting the mood. This time of year, because of a lack of sunlight, it’s best to surround yourself with vibrant bold colors that will lift your spirit and energize you. Think bright reds, oranges and yellows. Try to avoid grays, light blues and white. This can be as easy as painting a bright accent to a bedroom wall to adding small odds and ends that enhance your office or any other space.

• Pump up the Music: The sounds we hear have a direct correlation to how we feel. Athletes typically listen to high energy music to get them ready to compete, just like many people listen to soothing soft music to get them ready for bed. To boost your mood, listen to music that gets you moving and makes you feel good.

• Drink more water: Dehydration increases blood pressure which in turn increases stress and can quickly bring down your mood. Being hydrated is not only good for your overall health, but even one eight-ounce glass can quickly help raise your spirits.

• Think of happier times: Remembering a happy memory for 10-30 seconds can get you out of a rut. Maybe it’s when you got married or held your child for the first time, or something even simpler like a concert you went to or barbequing with friends and family.

• Look up: It sounds simple, but it works. Sit up or stand straight and lift your chin directly towards the ceiling, sky or other high point. This physical movement gives you clarity of thought and automatically makes you feel good. Enhance this simple technique by inhaling deeply from your diaphragm (stomach area), holding for three seconds and exhaling slowly through your lips and dropping your shoulders as you breathe out. Try reciting a statement like “I feel good” or “I feel strong and confident” as you exhale.

• Use your brain: If spending more time indoors, become mentally engaged in an activity. It can be something as simple as a crossword puzzle or board game. The key is mental stimulation in some capacity.

As they say, the, er, snow must go on, so it’s essential to find ways to keep your spirit alive through it all. Better Than Before believes that while ‘stuff’ happens in life, some of it, like the weather, is entirely out of our control. But if there is something we can do about it, we owe it to ourselves to try. The good news is that this week it’s supposed to be in the mid-forties around here. A veritable heat wave! Now we just have to make sure we can still fit into our bathing suits after all those hot chocolates and chicken pot pies.

One World: The Simplicity in Design and Message with Calvin Klein

Calvin KleinWith New York Fashion Week kicking into high gear, I took this opportunity to highlight one of fashion’s biggest stars and our ONE WORLD guest Calvin Klein. He is an icon in an industry that can make a designer a household name one year and then send them crashing back into anonymity the next. Yet he has managed to maintain prominence since founding his company in 1967.

Influenced by his grandmother, who was a seamstress in the Bronx and his mother’s love of style, Klein knew from a very early age that fashion and design were his passion. In his first runway show Calvin was immediately recognized as a rising star in the industry and was hailed as a young Yves Saint Laurent.

Calvin Klein’s continued success has largely been based on his focus and his ability to stick with his own personal aesthetic. “There has to be a way to communicate to people what you stand for,” he explains in his interview with Deepak Chopra.

“I don’t want to say it was easy, but…if I loved it, and I thought it was as good we could do, then usually the result came out well.” In an industry dominated largely by bold and busy prints, materials and shapes, Klein has maintained his clean and simple aesthetic and it continues to be successful decades after it was originally introduced.

Not one to be constantly in the spotlight himself and agreeing to interviews on a limited basis, Klein generally prefers to let his work speak for itself. The elegance of simple and clean lines is not something that Klein maintains only in his garments but also in his marketing strategies. With simple black and white advertising campaigns, the brand launched many models, including Brooke Shields and Mark Wahlberg into stardom. Today a Calvin Klein ad is instantly recognizable around the globe for its simple and consistent messaging. His body of work and his sizable success are a testament to the fact that sometimes less truly is more.

You can see his whole ONE WORLD discussion with Deepak Chopra here.

 

Ginger Masala Chai Worthy of a New York Winter

chai-tea-e-liquidI recently moved to New York City from California and am (ahem) “enjoying” my first real winter here. Let the wuss jokes begin!

It’s alright. I’m laughing at myself, too. Born and raised in California, used to being fairly tan, gets cold easily, loves sunshine so much she’s basically part lizard… Yep, that’s me. Now instead of donning a windbreaker for misty San Francisco mornings or wearing a hat for fun in the 60 degree Los Angeles winter sun, I’m learning the art of boots, down coats, ear muffs, long johns and mittens. Endless mittens. See you next April, world, because I am officially 75% clothing right now, and I can barely see over my scarf.

It’s going to be a long winter.

In all honesty, though, I love autumn and winter. I love the snow; I love the holidays; I love the feeling of warming up after being cold. It probably has something to do with a nesting instinct. One of the most beloved memories I have from childhood is making nests with my big sister on rainy days and sick days. When it was miserable, grey and raining outside, or when we were stuck in the house with colds and fevers, my sister would orchestrate a grand “nesting.” We’d pile tons of blankets and pillows on the ground, arranged in little cup-shaped seats like an egg carton. And then we’d hop inside the nest with a box of Nilla wafers and tea and watch a Disney movie to pass the time. Pure joy.

I still make nests of sorts, as does she, both literally and figuratively. Sans actual blankets and pillows, I just love making people feel warm, comfortable, and cared for. In any kind of weather, there’s little I love more than bringing people together around a table for delicious food and loving company. But this is a particularly important practice during the cold and dark months when our souls really need that extra swaddling. And many traditional winter recipes do the trick of warming us inside out.

Case in point, spice-infused recipes. This season you’re undoubtedly enjoying foods flavored with all kinds of spices, whether you know it or not. Butternut squash soup, gingerbread cookies, curries and stews, applesauce, etc. Winter recipes tend to incorporate many different spices, for several reasons. In Ayurveda, the winter season is associated with exacerbated Vata qualities, which are best assuaged through warming foods. This can be literally hot foods (like soup, hot cereal and warm drinks) and/or through warm-ing foods, made invigorating through the use of spice.

Even outside of Ayurveda, there’s a very practical reason to eat more spice during the winter. It’s cold, there’s a bug going around, you’re sniffly and sick…Voilà, spices curb cold and flu symptoms! Ginger, for instance, is an anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-bacterial. It can help boost your immune system, loosen mucus, open your sinuses, and relieve sore throats. That’s a lot for one little root!

Keeping the health benefits in mind, as well as the essential need for warming and nesting that we all experience during this season, I offer you chai.

“Masala chai” is the Hindi term for a drink made with black tea, milk, and lots of spice. It is a drink that has been consumed in South Asia for centuries and is traditionally much less sweet and much more spicy than what you’d get at your local coffee shop. I can’t necessarily vouch for the total authenticity of my recipe, as I’ve never been to India, but I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Ginger Masala Chai

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

2 cups of milk (I like organic whole milk, but soy, almond, or oat work as well)

2 cups of water

3 tablespoons of loose leaf, unflavored black tea (the stronger the better; I like Darjeeling)

1/4 teaspoon Wakaya Perfection ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

pinch of saffron

2 whole, crushed up cardamom cloves

3 teaspoons of Turbinado sugar (or Agave, honey, etc)

Instructions:

Get two saucepans going on the stove on medium heat. Pour the milk in one and the water in the other. You’ll need to work in both pots simultaneously. As the milk begins to warm, add the pinch of saffron, pressing it between your fingertips gently before dropping it in the saucepan.

Once the water in the other pot begins to boil, add the loose tea leaves and reduce to a low simmer. Let steep 3-5 minutes. While you’re waiting, add the sugar to the milk and stir until it dissolves. Once the tea is ready, place a strainer over the milk and strain the tea water into the milk saucepan. Now you’re working in just one pot.

Start building the spice. Add the ginger, cinnamon and any other spices you want to the pot, saving the cardamon to the side for the end. You can try the chai to see if it has the right spice/sugar ratio, and adjust until it’s just right. Bring the pot to a boil, and as it begins to bubble up, throw the cardamon in and turn the heat off right away. The chai will stew for a second, cooling down slightly, and the cardamon will infuse the drink just enough without overpowering it.

Serve in two mugs and enjoy! Stay warm, everyone!

VOD: Stephen Colbert Marries Couple Whose Wedding Was Marred By Government Shutdown

When the government shutdown everyone was in outrage (as they should be) over the obvious programs that were closed – Meals on Wheels, Headstart – and the hundreds of thousands of government workers that were sent home with pay. As the days went on though, the less obvious consequences of the shutdown started to become apparent.

For many couples that had planned their weddings at national parks like Yosemite or the Grand Canyon they will have to postpone or make last minute (expensive) adjustments. That’s what happened to this couple, who were planning to get married this month at the Jefferson Memorial (the site of their first date, aw!) Luckily, comedian and Colbert Report host Stephen Colbert came to the rescue with the funds from Colbert Nation.

He flew out the wedding party (and a few other special guests!) and married them on the show! It was full of spoofs and laughs (check out the bride’s rather shiny bouquet). They may not have gotten the wedding they planned, but it is definitely one to remember!

What do you think of Stephen’s wedding gesture? Tell us in the comments below! And if you have a video of the day you’d like us to post let us know! 

Deepak Chopra Gives Out Advice in NYC for OWN

“Spiritual advice has more impact when it’s given to real people who have real questions.” That’s how Gotham Chopra introduces Help Desk – the special airing on OWN this Sunday (September 22) at 12pm local time.

The episode revolves around spiritual experts setting up shop in populated areas and offering their advice to anyone who needs it. For the first half Deepak Chopra answers questions in Madison Square Park in New York City. Though Deepak receives and tries to answer thousands of questions every day via social media, now you can see him in action, giving real advice to real people in the moment. He answers heartfelt questions about relationships, health, spirituality, and personal transformation. Watch a first look below:

Rev. Ed Bacon and author of 8 Habits of Love takes the hot seat for the second half of the show – answering questions in the middle of Venice Beach, CA. In this touching clip Ed gives advice to a man who has lost his wife, job and his home but is still trying to keep a positive attitude. He asks the reverend if he’ll ever be able to find his center again:

You can see more behind the scenes and sneak peaks of Help Desk at Oprah.com/HelpDesk. Don’t forget to tune in and watch Sunday, September 22, at noon ET/PT!

Life After Foster Care: Yoga, College and the Path Forward

As of 2011, roughly 423,000 children in the United States were living in foster care homes. Today the numbers are much the same. Nearly 20% enter foster care due to physical abuse; 65% leave without a place to live; and less than 3% end up going to college.

Anthony, from the latest episode of URBAN YOGIS on The Chopra Well, is an exception to the trend. He grew up in and out of foster care, back and forth between his mother and various temporary homes. As he explains in the episode, his mother never fed him or provided him with basic life needs, let alone the more intangible necessities of love, comfort, and security. He was never with her long before being sent to another foster home, making for a fairly unstable childhood.

With the help of his final foster family, as well his own drive and will to survive, Anthony emerged from his youth with a clear vision for the future. He’s proud of the life he has created for himself — living independently in a supportive housing unit, pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Actuarial Science, and aspiring to get a Ph.D. in Mathematics. Anthony didn’t just survive his childhood; and he isn’t just “getting by” now. He has discovered his passion and ambition. He has embarked on a difficult and rewarding path, made all the more remarkable by his challenging childhood. Through his weekly yoga practice, Anthony further refines this path by learning to pay attention to his moods, focus his mind, and discover strength in every subtle movement and breath.

How does a young person emerge from such a difficult childhood and thrive in adulthood? What facilitates this resilience and ambition? It could be that some experience along the way provided just enough of a glimmer of hope – a supportive social worker, a beautiful song, a loving foster family, an inspiring lesson from history. In Anthony’s case, a large part of his success comes from the opportunity to live alone and get acquainted with his own strength and competence. Yoga has played a large role, as well. As his instructor, Eddie Stern, says, yoga allows us to slow down and focus on our movement and breath. Through this, we come to see that we are individuals with minds and bodies and souls of our own. We aren’t just witnesses of a world going on around us, but rather conscious agents of our own life story. Past, present and future aside, Anthony is his own man. And there is great pride in that.

Subscribe to The Chopra Well for more URBAN YOGIS every Monday!

How NY Teens Use Yoga to Overcome Domestic Violence

One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. Men make up roughly 15% of domestic violence victims. And about 75% of Americans personally know someone who is or has been the victim of such abuse.

But statistics don’t paint an accurate picture. For many who read this article, domestic violence is a current reality, a past traumatic experience, or witnessed through a friend trapped in a toxic relationship. What you might not know is how young the victims of domestic violence can be. These patterns can begin as early as middle school and high school, in the some of the first relationships of a person’s life. Today’s episode of URBAN YOGIS on The Chopra Well features New York teenagers who have been or are at risk of becoming victims of domestic violence. The students are participants in RAPP (the Relationship Abuse Prevention Program) which falls under the Center Against Domestic Violence. RAPP educates teenagers about  relationship abuse and works to rehabilitate those who have already experienced the effects of violence. As it turns out, one of the techniques employed in this endeavor is yoga.

Teenagers in the RAPP program learn the many faces domestic violence can assume – from jealousy and possessiveness to full-on physical abuse. They also develop the vocabulary to discuss these issues, and the confidence and self-esteem to demand respect in their relationships. As a way of fostering physical and emotional strength, interested students receive weekly yoga lessons from Ashtanga instructor Eddie Stern, which gives them the opportunity to develop stress reduction and self-soothing techniques. And after breathing through difficult sequences and allowing themselves to rest in the final moments in Savasana pose, they can return to their iPods and friends and teenage lives with a growing sense of their own strength and power to overcome.

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and stay grounded throughout your day!

Deepak Chopra and Friends to Host LIVE Talk on Yoga and Transformation – Don’t Miss!

With the launch of our new show, URBAN YOGIS, there has been a lot in the air about yoga, personal growth, and global action. To highlight this, The Chopra Well will be hosting a LIVE conversation on yoga and transformation this Monday October 22 at 10 AM Pacific Standard Time. Participants on the hangout will include renowned author and doctor Deepak Chopra, Ashtanga yoga instructor Eddie Stern, Off the Mat and Into the World founder Seane Corn, celebrity yoga instructor Tara Stiles, Aim True Yoga founder Kathryn Budig, Chopra University Director Teresa Long, and Chopra Center yoga instructor Danielle Mika Nagel. Monday happens to be Deepak’s birthday, as well, so we hope you’ll to join us!

You can watch the hangout LIVE on the homepage of The Chopra Well starting at 10 AM PST/1 PM EST. While you’re watching, join the conversation with your thoughts and questions in the comments section beneath the video. If you can’t catch the hangout on Monday, the recorded video will be published on our channel so you can watch whenever you like!

If you have questions you’d like to send us ahead of time, feel free to do so in the comments section below. You can also leave them under the video on The Chopra Well.

For more on yoga and transformation:

Eddie Stern on URBAN YOGIS
Seane Corn with Deepak Chopra on WHO ARE YOU?
Teresa Long on CHOPRA CENTERED
Tara Stiles Yoga Channel

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and be a part of the ongoing conversation on yoga, wellness, and personal growth.

Teenage Yogis: Fostering Peace in the Face of Rising Violence

Can yoga and meditation help a teenager struggling with the death of a parent or violence in his community?

Juquille Johnston was six years old when his father was shot and killed in the streets of New York City. It’s frightening to imagine how such horrific violence could affect this young man’s life. Will he be forever shackled to fear, anger, and pain? There are certain experiences and realities of life that, already tragic, seem particularly cruel when thrust on a person so young. But this is the reality facing so many young people around the world, including scores of young Americans confronted daily with gun violence, gang activity, poverty, and abuse.

In the premiere episode of The Chopra Well’s new show, URBAN YOGIS, we document Juquille’s powerful story, and the healing he experiences through yoga and meditation. Though it is often portrayed in media as a luxury, yoga can be much, much more. As practiced by instructor Eddie Stern and a group of teenagers in New York City’s LIFE Camp, yoga is meditation, therapy, exercise, and creative expression all in one.

Erica Ford co-founded LIFE Camp in 2002 in response to growing violence in New York City. As she witnessed the effect of violence on the community – particularly on black and Latino youth already at the mercy of discrimination and disenfranchisement – Erica knew it was time to take a stand. Through mentoring, media literacy, service, and more, teenagers involved in LIFE Camp become empowered to invest in their futures and their communities. Yoga is one of the powerful tools these teenagers engage with, and the practice has a profound effect.

Even more impressive than the power of yoga in this story is the fierce resiliency of these teens’ spirits. Perhaps yoga and meditation awaken something in the human spirit that was always there, but which we lose sight of or neglect. It comes alive again in the silence and focused breath on the mat, in the strength that fosters softness, so characteristic of yoga. Thirteen years after his father’s death, Juquille finds inspiration to slow down and face the challenges that come his way with compassion instead of anger.

We are ever grateful for these young people who so bravely shared their stories with us and with you. If you are inspired by Juquille’s story, share this video and keep the message of transformation alive.

Why not start your own yoga practice? Click here to watch a “one on one” yoga lesson with Eddie Stern. You can also find a link to the video at the end of the “LIFE Camp” episode. Eddie is a one of a kind instructor – so enjoy!

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and stay tuned for more amazing stories and inspiration, every week on URBAN YOGIS.

Fragrance Free: 10 Ways to Protect Yourself from Toxic Scents

Stinky, sweet smelling air fresheners, cologne, body sprays, and scented shampoo are made with synthetic fragrances, and they’re bad for your health…especially children and pregnant women. These factory-made fragrances contain phthalates, which are chemicals that can cause hormonal abnormalities, birth defects and reproductive problems.

I tell my clients not to buy artificially scented products for their home or office because they can also trigger migraine headaches, allergies and asthma attacks. A recent Institute of Medicine study sponsored by the EPA put fragrances in the same category as second hand smoke as a trigger for asthma in school-age children. Also, in homes where aerosol sprays and air fresheners were used frequently, studies found that mothers experienced 25% more headaches, and infants younger than 6 months old had 30% more ear infections.

Scented disinfectants and air fresheners are showing up everywhere! I now call ahead and request no air fresheners in rental cars and at hotels, just like asking for a non-smoking car or room. I ask my groomer not to use fragrance when she washes my dog. But it’s hard when you work at a school or non-service oriented business because most people think the person who is sensitive to fragrance is just plain weird. I know a chemically sensitive woman who was told to attend staff meetings by using Skype on her computer, so her co-workers wouldn’t have to give up using cologne or perfume. “They think it’s all in my head,” she said.

Even the mall isn’t a safe haven. The clothing store Abercrombie & Fitch sprays its signature fragrance Fierce inside as well as outside, so people are unknowingly being exposed to harmful chemicals by simply walking by the store. One environmental group,Teens Turning Green, held protests in San Francisco and New York demanding that the spraying stop. Their effort is supported by more than two dozen groups, including theCampaign for Safe Cosmetics, which revealed that A&F’s Fierce contains 11 secret chemicals that are not listed on the label.

When you see the word “fragrance” in an ingredient list, you can assume it’s all synthetic—and not a blend of natural flower extracts. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) reports that “95% of the ingredients used to create fragrances today are synthetic compounds derived from petroleum, including benzene derivatives, aldehydes, and many other known toxins and sensitizers.” According to the EWG, there are potentially hundreds of chemicals in a single product’s secret fragrance mixture.

Be forewarned: Fragrances can contain neurotoxins and are among the top 5 allergens in the world.

Ten powerful ways to protect yourself from toxic synthetic fragrances:

  1. Avoid air fresheners. They are made with synthetic fragrances, containing phthalates.
  2. Watch for any product that lists “fragrance” or “parfum” on the label — these are FDA-approved catch-all words synonymous with hidden phthalates.
  3. Products that claim to be “fragrance free” or “unscented” could contain masking agents that give off a neutral odor, so it is best if the word “fragrance” does not appear on the label at all.
  4. Look for scents that are naturally derived or are plant-based or labeled as 100% essential oils. These are not the same thing as fragrance oils which are artificially created and contain synthetic chemicals.
  5. If a product says “Made with…” it can mean as little as 1 percent of the ingredients in the bottle.
  6. For scented candles, try those made from soy or beeswax, and make sure their fragrance is made from 100% essential oils.
  7. To clear the air use a non-aerosol citrus spray containing only citrus peel extracts, which are effective at dissolving airborne odors, instead of scented aerosol sprays, liquids that emit a continuous scent, or solid air fresheners.
  8. Labels that claim a product is “natural” or “biodegradable” do not mean that it is necessarily free of synthetic fragrances or other chemicals
  9. Certified Organic products do not contain synthetic fragrances.
  10. Make requests at hotels, car rental companies, dog groomers, schools, and offices to not use scented cleaning products.

Beth Greer, Super Natural Mom®, radio talk show host, former President of The Learning Annex, Certified Build It Green healthy home makeover specialist, eliminated a sizable tumor in her chest without drugs or surgery. She’s author of the bestseller, Super Natural Home, endorsed by Deepak Chopra, Ralph Nader, Peter Coyote, etc. She’s leading a movement of awareness and responsibility about healthy home environments and informs and inspires people to transform their homes into safe havens. Beth consults for residential and commercial clients nationwide.

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