Sunday - Kripalu Yoga Retreat Travelogue

Sunday - our last day was already here! It's amazing how the weekend flew by. We rose again to be down at breakfast at 7am. Delicious food. Delightful silence. The sun was peeking through the clouds. When we were done, we headed up to the sun room to rest and gaze out for a while. Simply lovely. All too soon it was time for our last session.

We went down a little early, and I asked the willowy blond instructor if she could help me with downward facing dog, a pose we hadn't covered. She was delighted! I demonstrated my version, and she helped me with better hand and feet placement, starting from a tabletop position rather than a plank position. She had me start in cow, and when I explained that I couldn't do that very well, she said she'd noticed that yesterday - they really do pay attention to things! She gave me suggestions for helping to improve my spine's flexibility and health. Her assistance was kind and very helpful.

Then we did our final session. We practiced balancing activities, practiced our moon salutation sequence some more, did walking meditations, and all too soon it was over. We had learned so much! Bunny loved the mind-quieting exercises and the healing. I adored the personalized help on my yoga poses, getting experts to gently, kindly suggest improvements which were amazing. Both of us enthusiastically want to come back.

Our check-out time was 12 noon and it was now just after 11:30 so we said thank you to everyone then headed upstairs. We packed up and brought our stuff down to their "luggage room" where people put things. A note here on security. They say in their material not to leave valuables in your car and to lock valuables in your safe in your room. I think that's just for legal reasons. Numerous people leave their purses, backpacks, and belongings outside the dining hall so they can eat unencumbered. People walk around barefoot, smiling greetings at each other. Most people are in t-shirts, shorts, and sandals. I didn't hear of one problem the entire weekend. Certainly you don't want to leave giant emeralds lying around, I imagine, but really there's no reason to bring that sort of stuff here. Most people were without jewelry, without makeup, and without hindrances. We were here to discover our authentic selves. We trusted in each other.

So of course we put our stuff in the luggage room and went to lunch! One last meal in this delightful place. We ran into a mother-daughter pair who had been in our yoga class and they were delightful lunch companions. Delicious food, friendly people, wonderful conversation. We could live here.

That was our last included meal, but we still had the run of the grounds. We decided to walk down to the lake. It was a pleasant walk through a forest path.

Kripalu Photo

Maybe about a mile? I'm not good with distances. It was not short, but not exhausting. The lake itself was quite pretty with kayaks and boats and a swimming area.

Kripalu Photo

We sat for a while admiring the restful scenery, and there were even blue five petaled forget-me-nots along the shore. As if we could ever forget this gorgeous place!

Kripalu Photo

Finally it was time to head back. We walked the delightful path back to the parking area, passing our wonderful class assistants along the way. I got into my car, set my GPS to "Go Home!" and then Bunny followed me back out to the Pike. I used my deep breathing and relaxating techniques all the way home, with a fresh outlook on life, and a new revitalized dedication to serenity!

Take-Home Thoughts -

The instructor was fantastic. Megha had lived at the location for 10 years before it became a public training facility. She clearly adored it and knew yoga inside and out. She could name every bone in English and Latin, knew first-hand about carpal tunnel, back issues, and other issues. She was upbeat, friendly, encouraging, and whatever your concern was, she could talk clearly about how to address it and become more healthy. She helped everyone feel at ease, even those who had never heard of yoga or meditation before. Several people were brought here by spouses and friends and she eased them into the practices.

The facilities are gorgeous. Again if you are expecting a Vegas style over-the-top luxury, that is not what Kripalu is about. This is about a retreat from materialism. The rooms are simple. The beauty is not in high-thread-count sheets and tapestry covers, but in the amazing landscapes of the mountains and waters, and the quiet blissfulness of sitting in the Sun Room watching the clouds drift by. The people around you are quiet, caring, and on their own journeys.

The message here is to take things at your own pace, to experience your own experience. You don't have to do a pose exactly X way. If your stomach hurts, you can do it Y way. If your feet hurt, you can do it Z way. Whatever your personal situation is, there is a way to help you become more healthy. Our joints ache because they are barely getting enough synovial fluid (the stuff that lubricates the joints). Our body is tired because we barely breathe in enough oxygen. The basics of yoga are to help these foundation-level balance issues of our body to allow it to become more healthy. The basics of meditation are to help our mind learn how to focus and pause so that we react in more healthy manners to the world around us.

The food was fantastic. Have I mentioned that enough times yet? We keep encountering dishes that were simply amazing. As we joked at one point during the weekend, even if all you liked was peanut butter and jelly, you'd find the most amazing breads, the most delicious peanut butter, and the most fantastic jellies you'd ever dreamed of.

If I can afford the time and money to go back, absolutely I would. I would aim for that exact same room :). I might even just do a trip without a "special session" - there is enough going on all day at the center that I could keep busy with meditation activities and yoga activities. But the sessions are so fascinating that I might be lured in by one anyway. Maybe one on stress relief, or one on yoga just-past-basics to get more focus on learning those poses well. I feel so much better after a yoga session - my back feels healthy, my body feels healthy, I feel so much more full of life. Deep breathing really is an amazing thing.

I recommend Kripalu in the highest possible terms. Before I went, I joked with my family about Kripalu because they teased me I was going to join a cult. I played along and said I'd come back obsessed with Kripalu and wanting to sell all my possessions and live there. I have to admit, it's not too far off :) It is quite an amazing place, and I will strive to keep a portion of that serenity and peace alive within me each day!

When I do reviews I always look to give a balanced review so it doesn't come across as a press release. So what was "not great" about this. Well certainly the price will deter some. When I told the yoga teacher at my community center that I was going, she said she'd always dreamt of going but couldn't afford it. So here is a woman whose whole life is about yoga and she can't justify the expense. It's not cheap. But it's sort of like a cruise ship - where everything is included, including all food and entertainment, you take that into consideration. Also, again, there were very few morbidly obese people. So if you were 300+ pounds you might feel uncomfortable that you were in the minority. Everyone will be welcoming! The whole point of this place is that all shapes, styles, and bodies are accepted. People have tattoos, silver hair, scars, it doesn't matter. But I do know that some morbidly obese people feel uncomfortable if they are the only people of that size and they might feel that way here. Speaking of tattoos, people DO have tattoos. So if that made you uncomfortable, that is something to consider. People walk around barefoot. The dining hall is buffet - no waiters or servers here. So if you're used to 5 star restaurants, while the food is high quality, the "service" is absent. Again, something to be aware of. The rooms are spartan. They are not Bellagio-style with plasma TVs and plush pillows.

So those are the things to be aware of, especially if you are bringing along a partner or friend who has not been on this type of retreat before. It's better to prepare them ahead of time so they can acclimatize themselves to what will be available and become comfortable with it.

With all of that being said, I thought it was fantastic. It was exactly what I wanted, I felt uplifted and supported, and absolutely I would return.

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