Monday, August 09, 2004

Yoga Road Trip!

Last week I did a little trip to Kripalu, a hip and groovy yoga center in western Massachusetts. Although I wouldn't call myself a yoga junkie like some (it's worth a visit to that site if you like any of her passions), but I've definitely been getting more into it lately. In previous posts I wrote about the Baron Baptiste classes I visited (aka "sweaty yoga") which were very cool, er, hot, in a blow your mind kind of way. The Kripalu style is much gentler and not all that different from the yoga classes I've taken over the years. The main difference is that you are doing 1.5-2 hour classes two times a day, which is a lot more yoga than I normally do. And I can feel it still, four days later! Youch. But good youch I reckon.

You know you like yoga when you're willing to get up for a 6:30 AM class on a vacation day. But that's how Kripalu kinda works -- it's like boot camp for body nurturers. You wake up ridiculously early for the class, then head off to your incredibly healthy breakfast (brown rice, miso soup and yogurt being the main choices), then off to a workshop that is about some sort of healthy thing (I went to sound healing). Then to Danskinetics at noon, which was even more fun than I expected. Next is excruciatingly healthy lunch -- brown rice again, and a decent veggie pad thai, lots of fresh fruit. Then another workshop, another yoga class, healthy dinner, another workshop and in bed by 9:30. (Yup -- and believe me, you're ready to sleep). Of course, only crazy people like me actually do all of that stuff -- a lot of folks just kick back and stare out the window or go swimming or whatever it is people-who-are-not-me do. But I wanted to see what this place was all about, and I think I did get a good sense of it. And I definitely left with a renewed sense of energy, even if I was pretty much exhausted.

I feel like I have to ruminate for a moment on the food. It was done cafeteria style, and we're all familiar with the smell and vibe of cafeterias, but this cafeteria was different (ie better). They served what would be called "clean food" which means, very basically, that all of it is good for you. No white sugars or flours, very little animal protein or fats, lots of fruits and vegetables and whole grains, mostly organic, locally grown. Anyone who knows me will laugh to hear at my alarm at finding out there was no dessert at any of the meals I attended. But I survived. After eating in that cafeteria for a week and doing all that yoga, I imagine you'd be feeling pretty darn healthy. Which is the point of the place. I'm struggling in trying to figure out what I'm trying to say here ... I guess what happened is I was impressed. This food, prepared "cafeteria style" was tasty and healthy and genuinely felt nourishing. It was a pleasure to go there for a meal and I felt like my body was thanking me for it.

I was wondering if the place would be like a summercamp for grownups, a great big kumbaya with everyone hugging and crying and laughing and howling at the moon. Both happily and sadly, it was not. People were relatively friendly, but I didn't get the sense of being hugely welcomed. Things were low-key, which makes sense for a "retreat" center where some are retreating to get over some big issues. I was also worried about the woo-woo factor, and while I attended workshops that some of my friends would have snorted through, for the most part the instructors and the classes were straightforward and comfortable. And the natural beauty of the area was very impressive.

So, overall, a good visit. I would go back when I'm feeling wealthy again as the place is not cheap. I can't say I would long for it, but I can understand how some people would get a yearning for the place.


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