Before you assume this place is the epicenter for every patchouli-smelling, pretentious, hippie-yogi; before that horrible Jennifer Aniston movie where she joins a commune comes to mind; before you classify yourself into a category of people who “don’t do that;” stop, take a deep breath, and let out an Om or two.
Yes, Kripalu can seem cliche, and yes, it might offer refuge to a desperate housewife or two who read or saw Eat, Pray Love one too many times–but who the hell cares? Once inside this magical Mecca in Western Massachusetts, you’re life just might get some serious transformation.
Driving up the hill and onto the grounds is pretty special on its own–the center is situated in the stunning, bucolic landscape of the Berkshires.
Once you get through the check-in process, where a perky front desk associate overwhelms your travel-tired brain with way too much information, find refuge in your humble temporary abode.
If you’re lucky enough to book one of their premium rooms in the “Annex,” you’ll find your accommodations to resemble a minimalistic Ian Schrager hotel room–minus any trends du jour. It’s a no-frills space with a comfy enough bed, simple bathroom and a couple drawers for your personal items.
The coolest part about the Annex building is its design. There’s no cooling or warming system – the structure is designed to self regulate temperature. This was good news during the sweltering month of August.
More affordable dorm rooms are available and come in singles, doubles and summer-camp- style bunks in communal rooms housing multiple guests, with shared bathrooms.
But since you’re mostly only in your room to sleep, either option can make your stay pleasurable. What you’re really there to do is rest, relax, rejuvenate and repeat.
The center allows for you to push the ultimate reset button on your life through a variety of yoga and meditation classes, workshops and other activities that leave your body, spirit and mind renewed.
There’s also themed programming that takes place regularly if you’re interested in a particular topic and a more structured experience. Lastly, Kripalu offers extensive yoga teacher training programs.
Whether you’re a meditating, ashram-visiting yogi veteran or a curious newbie, there’s something for every level of education and interest.
Classes will range from Qigong(Chinese yoga) to The Power of Mantra, to Guided Hiking or Kayaking –and of course just about every type of yoga under the sun. (But no Acroyoga, we asked!)
Quite possibly the most interesting (and strange) class you can partake in, is Kripalu’s signature YogaDance. Think of it as a big, fat, drug-free, rave-like, yoga-meets-dance party that will bring out your awesomely groovy dancing queen (or king).
If all that dancing and bowing has you hungry, you’re not in luck–the food is mostly disappointing for discerning pallets. You’re best bet is the salad or sandwich bar, with few exceptions. The dining options are incredibly allergy-friendly, however, and there’s even a macrobiotic “Buddha Bar,” with tasteless but wholesome and healthy dishes to choose from. The best option is to experiment with toppings to spice your meal up.
A plus? When dessert is served, it’s usually the best part of a meal – vegan brownies anyone?
Post-dinner, evening activities sometimes include live music, or Rest and Unwind Yoga.
When you’re not experiencing a class, stroll around the grounds, check out the meditation labyrinth, or indulge in a massage, facial or body treatment at the Healing Arts Center (that’s hippie speak for spa).
If you’re stressed, confused, uninspired, bored with life or simply love yoga, book your trip immediately. Opt for 4 days or more, as a weekend really isn’t enough time to explore all this glorious place has to offer.