Kripalu is a hidden paradise for yogis, spiritual seekers, and those desiring time for reflection. The Kripalu center for yoga & health is located in charming Stockbridge, MA, hidden away from bustling towns and cities. The untouched purity of the Berkshires rings true across the 300 acres surrounding the Kripalu buildings.

You can travel to Kripalu for a retreat & renewal to let go of stress, for a professional training program, or programs directed by the leaders in the yoga, health, and wellness industries.  No matter which program you choose, there are daily yoga classes in the mornings and afternoons. If the class times don’t work for you due to your program schedule you can also look into Personal Yoga Space, where there are certain program rooms available for your use. Classes are Kripalu style: gentle, moderate, or vigorous. The classes were relaxing, but I craved the Yoga Works style or any yoga class that had at least 2 sun salutations. I didn’t know how much my body enjoyed those movements for building heat until they were no longer a part of class. An alternative is the Kripalu YogaDance offered over lunchtime. YogaDance blends stretching, yoga, and dance for a low-impact aerobic exercise. Due to my program schedule I was unable to make it to a class, but everyone I spoke to loved YogaDance. I’ll have to try it next time!

The amenities are many, and if your schedule is packed you may not find time to enjoy them all. There is a sauna, whirlpool, fitness room, café, shop, lounge, meditation room, solarium, and sunroom. In each location around the building you will find peace and quiet so you can relax and reflect.

There are evening programs at Kripalu 365 days a year. The programs range from chanting, concerts, and movies, to educational speakers. One evening program that moved me was the belly dancing. During my week at Kripalu there was a program called ‘Wild Hips Gypsy Heart: Belly dance as Self-Empowerment’. The teacher of this program, who has been belly dancing since she was 7, mesmerized the crowd as she moved and balanced her body in ways that I have never seen before. Once her beautiful show was over, her 22 students went on stage to perform what they had learned in the workshop. What touched me so deeply was the courage of these 22 women who had been belly dancers for all of 3 days to be on stage and dance! They were all so beautiful and I was so proud of all of them even though I didn’t know any of the women.

Dining at Kripalu makes you feel so healthy that it is hard to know what to do when you get home and don’t have time to make the very delicious yet healthy meals you’ve grown accustomed to. There is always something for everyone, either at the main buffet, Buddha Bar, or at the Sandwich Bar. Vegetarian and non-vegetarian options are offered at each meal. The breakfast is the only meal that is silent, which can be a serene way to start your day. If you prefer to talk at breakfast you always can bring your food outside, to your room, or to the café. As a coffee addict I was so please to know that you can purchase coffee at the café. It is not available till 7:30 am, which is difficult for those early risers looking for their fix. However, I can’t complain as I am just happy it is available!

The cost of your stay can be inexpensive or expensive if you choose a private bath, but no matter the sleeping arrangements you choose, all of your meals are included. Accommodations range from dormitory style to private rooms. In dormitory rooms there are 8-22 people, bunk beds, and a shared hall bath (2 nights = $190). Standard rooms are for double occupancy with twin or queen size beds, and a shared hall bath (2 nights = $220-274). Standard Plus rooms are for double or single occupancy, twin or queen size beds, and shared hall bath (2 nights = $374). There are also Standard Plus rooms with private baths for single or double occupancy (2 nights = $416-500, double) (2 nights = $612-730, single). I have been pleased with the accommodations, the stark décor lends to the retreat feel.

Outside, as well as the inside Kripalu, there is plenty for you to explore. There are many trails and parks nearby. The Labyrinth is a personal favorite to take time to meditate and reflect. Another soothing destination is the Lakefront, not only is there a beautiful view of it from the building, but when gazing at the lake the stillness of the water helps to still the mind.

The serenity of Kripalu allows you to fully recharge. The seamless movement from one workshop to the next allows for freedom to enjoy everything rather than stress about what to do, how to do it, and where to do it. The large connected community and compassion everyone shares creates a beautiful, nonjudgmental, open environment. If only we could all keep these feelings of serenity, compassion, and respect for others and ourselves when we return to our chaotic lives.