What is it about having been a New Yawker for 12 years that still makes me want to GO GO GO and DO DO DO 90% of the time? I’ve been practicing yoga for almost 15 years, and I know all about SLOWING down and tuning in, and quieting the senses- but forgive me, I’m human- and I forget sometimes. That’s why at least once I year I kiss my family goodbye, load up my phone with an inspiring book, and hoof it to Kripalu.
Kripa-WHO? In a nutshell, it’s this amazing retreat center nestled in the beautiful Berkshire mountains where they host amazing instructors, serve the MOST incredible food, and hold space to meet like-minded spiritual people who happen to be really cool… I have been coming here for 8 years, originally to do a teacher training with Shiva Rea; but I fell in love with it, coming back year after year. Quite frankly, I would move up here for eternity and scrub their toilets if they would promise me daily yoga and a vegan, chocolate chip cookie….I mean if I didn’t have two awesome kids and a wonderful husband to go home to.
On the contrary to all the going and doing at home, here in yoga-land I blissfully wander from a vinyasa class to meditation lecture, to the hiking trails, and back to the cafeteria which is the healthy eater’s version of an all –you- can -eat Vegas buffet- except without the guilt and gastrointestinal issues from eating 50 pounds of lard and high fructose corn syrup… although the beans do have their side effects which can be heard in the early morning yoga classes.. I digress. There is no reason to rush anywhere, or worry about anything- if truly living in the present moment like the practice of yoga suggests, it is all rainbows and unicorns up here. Why just a few minutes ago while I was eating dinner outside, two hot air balloons floated across the lake and off into the horizon.
Kripalu is like Disneyland for yogis- it’s this magical place where on many different levels you may encounter an “out of body” experience that you don’t want to end- kind of like while flying on the Dumbo ride- except much better for your soul. You go to Disney and you feel like a kid again, but you go to Kripalu and leave wanting to be the best possible version of yourself – even the bunnies who hover around your picnic table waiting for organic scraps, appear to be enlightened.
As lovely as these breaks are, the challenge I face is how to hold on to that euphoria for as long as I can once I return. Usually I try to bring something home with me that is a reminder of my trip there, and every time I see it I remember how I want to FEEL- as if still on retreat.
One year I came home and got my lotus tattoo as a constant reminder to chill out- clearly I’m not going to do that every year, or before you know it I’d look like a walking yogic-pictionary. This year I bought four beaded bracelets in the gift shop, with proceeds that benefit fair trade practices in other countries- one for me, and one for my 3 boys. It’s the spiritual version of snapping a rubberband on your wrist every time you forget to choose a “right action.”
If you have never been on retreat, I highly recommend it. There are different levels of accommodations available at Kripalu, and hundreds of programs each year to choose from. I used to feel guilty about leaving my family for 3 nights and taking time alone, but myself, my kids, and my husband have all realized that I am of much better service to them if I get to re-boot every six months or so.
If leaving for a few days is completely out of the question, then think about how you can create a retreat-like experience closer to home. Go take two yoga classes in a day, treat yourself to a massage, and take a trip to Whole Foods with a list of ingredients to go home and cook yourself a nourishing, flavorful meal.
Sometimes just putting ourself in the mindset of YOGALAND changes everything….
In rainbows and unicorns