A Weekend at Kripalu
The more I’m supposed to be running, the more I’m obsessed with yoga. There are four weekends between my spring marathons right now, and I spent one of those at the Yoga Reaches Out yogathon and the next at one of the world’s most respected yoga and wellness retreats, Kripalu.
Yeah yeah yeah, I’m running my miles. Hal Higdon just so happens to have a 4-week marathon-to-marathon training plan just for me!
I’m going to focus this post specifically on Kripalu, because I’ve had so many people tell me they’ve been dying to go, wondering what it’s like, and asking for a debrief on the program I chose. We Massholes are so very lucky to have Kripalu close, nestled in our hilly, western-most region called “the Berkshires” (we lead you to believe the Berkshires are mountains, buuuuut… it’s really just a hilly area full of nature, music, stone walls, antique shops, and of course, yoga!).
In the weeks leading up to my program, several friends toyed with joining me. In the end, I’m actually truly grateful for going alone. It’s just that kind of place and experience where you can really turn inward if you allow it! Kripalu had just been closed for a month of campus renovations, so there was a fun buzz of activity when I arrived for check-in on Friday afternoon. I chose to stay in the dormitory offering, in a room with four women who were attending other programs that weekend. After a quick unpacking, I made it to the open-invite 4:15pm moderate yoga class with Jurian, dinner, and then the start of my program at 7pm.
My program: Vinyasa Flow: Flowing Through the Elements, with Coby Kozlowski – a mix of philosophy, asanas and Coby’s fantastic storytelling and sarcasm! The programs are all different, so I won’t go into too much in that regard. I think I picked the perfect one for me right now, but you should browse the calendar sometime and see what fits for you!
What I think you’d be more interested in are things like Kripalu’s silent breakfast. Yep, no talking, every day. The center focuses on “mindful eating” and reminds you to truly see, smell and savor the food on your plate – and the people who made it for you. The cafeteria and food have an incredible reputation, and rightfully so! To be honest, not having the pressure of talking to strangers in the morning is pretty awesome. Not having access to coffee though? Up for debate (you can buy some in the cafe on premises). If you want a little tip, I saw two more experienced women who brought their own French press along! For other meals, talking and meeting new people is encouraged.
There are open-invite yoga classes several times a day, and each day at noon is a yoga dance class. This is particularly epic on Saturdays when the live drummers join in! You gotta do it at least once, though I definitely felt like I was at a Phish show (not my thing). In addition, there are several hiking trails and guided walks, and a lakefront beach for more summertime activities. Saturday nights usually include some form of live music or a speaker.
They say the intense energy within the building can affect everyone. You can’t sleep, or you can’t stay awake. While in the between periods of my morning and afternoon program sessions, I admittedly was in a bit of a funk. Almost a negative feeling, I think I was just overcome with the physical and mental twinges of the “work” we were doing. I absolutely loved it all – the movement, stories and philosophy – and I adored our teacher Coby, but when we closed on Sunday midday I gave her a very bland hug good bye. I grabbed my packed bags from my room, put them in the car, contemplated going for my long run, and eventually just walked back inside for a little lunch before hitting the road.
I’m so grateful for what happened next! One of my program-mates saw me about to sit down and said “hey, a few of us are sitting outside!” I figured, heck, I’d barely been out in the fresh air all weekend and the sun was finally warming up – so I grabbed my tray and followed her like a scene outta high school ;-) We found our way to a table of 6-8 women, including our teacher Coby and her assistant Julia! My somber, introspective mood immediately started to lighten.
The women ate and departed for home, but Coby, Julia and I continued to sit for over an hour more in the warm breeze. Just chatting life in general, mutual connections, next moves… and when I finally left I knew I had made a most excellent new friend in Coby. The entire weekend was capped off in a beautiful way!
I drove the three hours home that afternoon feeling full of presence and warmth, and glancing over at my fresh new copy of The Radiance Sutras, by Lorin Roche. It was an “interesting” place and weekend overall, but I’m pretty sure I’ll find myself back in those hills.