06 July 2009

kripalu center for yoga & health


The beautiful grounds of Kripalu

Want to improve your health, get centered, cultivate peace in your life, and enjoy the company of the friendliest strangers you'll ever meet? Sounds like a tall order, but that's exactly what's offered at Kripalu center for yoga and health in the Berkshires of Massachusetts.

I got back from there last Wednesday and I'm still totally blissed out.

Before I planned my trip, I perused the catalog for all of their program offerings. I think I circled a workshop on every page, from meditation intensives to yoga for my aching wrists and shoulders. So many programs appealed to me. In the end, I chose to do a simple Retreat and Renewal (R&R) package, a go-at-your-own-pace set up.

My friend Jane and I drove up on Sunday and jumped right in with a massage (not included in the R&R package). After that, we had a delicious dinner - all the food at Kripalu is organic and local whenever possible. The rest of the time was filled with yoga classes, hikes, leisurely walks on the grounds, and more amazing meals - all part of R&R (as were the accommodations).


Monk's pond, a popular stop on morning hikes

It's a trip I won't soon forget. Mindful meditation and slow-paced days will do that to you.

But one of the most memorable happenings had more to do with the local fauna than the local positive vibrations. After dinner one night, Jane and I wandered the grounds and settled on some old steps on a hill, remnants of the old estate which used to preside there. Out of the corner of my eye, a big fuzzy black thing ambled down the hill less than 50 feet away. I grabbed Jane's arm. She took one look at the shock on my face and turned to face the animal. We both sat stiller than trees on a windless day. The black bear stopped, feeling our fear. She sniffed at the air in our direction. No muscle twitched, no eyelash batted. She turned to face the wooded area at the base of the hill. We waited a couple of beats before rising to go while "Mama Bear" crunched and crackled the branches in the woods.

Everyone in our path on the return to the building was subjected to our story. The security guard on duty told us he's seen Mama Bear a bunch of times (he's the one who calls her that), noting that she was a pretty big lady. We heartily agreed.


Jane re-enacting the bear's path

Aside from the excitement provided by the bear, I enjoyed the beauty of smaller fauna (birds, bees, dragonflies, butterflies) and flora (sweet-smeling wildflowers, the fresh aroma of pine) on nature hikes or while doing walking meditation in the labyrinth.


I definitely see a return trip in my future.