Getting my zen back at Kripalu…

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you might remember that I went to Kripalu once before to see Geneen Roth speak at a retreat called, “Women, Food and God”.

Going to a retreat at Kripalu is awesome and I would highly recommend it, but the only issue is you spend so much time in the retreat, that you don’t have time to enjoy the other aspects of the facility.  This time, I decided that instead of going to a specific program, I would just do one of their “R & R” weekends.

Kripalu is out in Lenox, MA out by Tanglewood, Canyon Ranch, etc.

People kept calling my weekend out there a “spa weekend”.  Kripalu is definitely not a spa.  Kripalu is a non-profit and a former ashram.  It’s accommodations are very spartan. 

I stayed in a shared room with a stranger (you can pay more for a non-shared room).  There were two twin beds in the room, a window, a mirror, a sink, a closet with 2 safes and one 4 drawer chest.  The bathroom with showers was down the hall.  There was not enough room between the beds for two people to stand side by side.   It’s very dorm style.

In fact, there are dorms you can stay in that have several bunk beds in a room and shared by many people.  I was going to try the dorms this time, but I still snore lightly and they didn’t have any snoring dorms available.

Most of the people “working” there are volunteers.  They are people who have come for months to study there and then work cleaning, in the kitchen, etc. to “pay” for their time there.  If I could take a few months off and not have to worry about a family, I would consider it.

I drove out there with one of my friends on Friday night and we were a bit frazzled when we finally got there.  It was pouring the whole way and there was just traffic jam after traffic jam on the pike.

We got there just in time for dinner, but I was bummed that we didn’t have a little bit more time there.  There were some evening programs that would have been nice to attend (especially the one on yoga nidra, the science of sleep), but I wasn’t in a mode yet that I could enjoy such a program. 

So instead I put on my bathing suit, went down to the jacuzzi and just basked in the warmth for a while.  After a shower, I changed into my pajamas and read in one of the designated quiet rooms for a while in a nice lounge chair with a foot rest.

That particular room on the 4th floor became my go to place over the weekend.  Whenever I wasn’t doing an activity, eating or sleeping, I could be found there.  It had nice, big windows with lots of natural light during the day, three couches and several lounge chairs.

Saturday morning, I got up and went to the 6:30 AM gentle yoga class.  I have to admit, this one was a little too gentle for me.  The instructor was very focused on yoga through sound.  It was interesting, but I was looking for more of a stretch.

After that was silent breakfast.  I kind of like that the main dining room at Kripalu is silent for breakfast.  There are other places to bring your food if you don’t want to be silent and if you always want silent meals, there is a small dining room that is silent during other meal times.

The food at Kripalu is amazing.  It’s all organic, whole grain.  They have many vegetarian/vegan options.   When I truly think about it, it’s not that they have many options for vegetarians/vegans, it’s really that they have mostly vegetarian food and then some options with poultry or fish at some meals.

One of my favorite things that I am going to have to make at home is their Moroccan Mint Tea.  They often have it available iced and I could just drink it constantly.  It’s so refreshing.

After breakfast was reading and kayaking.  The kayaking was a 2 hour guided kayak on the lake down the street from Kripalu.  It was the most relaxing kayaking that I have ever done and the first kayaking that I done since I’ve lost weight.

My weight really did stop me from kayaking just because I couldn’t fit.

It did take me a while to get the kayaking down again because I’m more of a canoer (I took canoeing at camp for years and years).  I kept trying to paddle more like a canoe and therefore soaked myself!  Once I got it down though, it was so easy.  We just kayaked leisurely around the lake for a couple of hours.

After kayaking, was more reading and then another wonderful meal in the dining hall and then more reading (go figure).

I had debating going on the afternoon guided hike, but there was a waiting list and I was feeling lazy.  It wasn’t raining, but it wasn’t sunny and it was the perfect day to just sit and read.

Over lunch, my friend and I had discussed going to moderate vs. gentle for the 4:30 PM yoga class.  I was feeling hesitant about moderate.  What if it was too much?  What if I couldn’t do it?  What if I didn’t like it?  What if I wasn’t perfect?  I was feeling scared to do it.  We both agreed that we sometimes shy away from things if we can’t immediately do them perfectly.

While I was reading, I decided to go to the moderate class.  What was I really afraid off?  So many things I adopt to my own way of doing and modify to my own level, why not with this too?

So I went and I was glad I did.  I found the class to be a bit challenging at times, but a good challenging.  I think my weight loss has helped a lot too as I was able to get into some of the positions a little better.  I was a little sweaty by the end (it was hot in the room and I seem to sweat in yoga anyway sometimes), but I felt very accomplished.

After more reading and then dinner, I had time for a quick shower and then I had my healing arts session that I had signed up for.

“Healing Arts” is what they call their spa services.  It makes sense because the area is not very spa like.  The rooms are still very spartan/dorm like with the proper equipment needed.  There is no robes, locker rooms, etc.

When booking, I decided that I wanted to try something new.  I’ve had many massages, facials, body scrubs, etc. in my life. 

I decided to go with an Ayurvedic treatment.

After reading through all of them, I decided to go with:

Vigorous Herbal Oil Application and Relaxation Treatment (Vishesh-Shirodhara)

Vishesh is a rhythmic, vigorous treatment using herbalized oils specific to your current imbalances. This treatment breaks up adhesions, stimulates lymphatic flow, and guides impurities out of the body. When certain channels are blocked then neither awareness nor blood can access deeply seated tissues. For certain body types and imbalances, this is an essential therapeutic approach. A Shirodhara treatment follows which is a deeply relaxing treatment using warm herbalized oils poured in a gentle stream over the forehead. This procedure synchronizes brain waves and profoundly coordinates and calms the mind, body, and spirit. Shirodhara enhances blood circulation to the brain, improves memory, nourishes the hair and scalp and generally aids in release of stress and tension. This is a wonderful combination for those who carry tension throughout their body and find it hard to relax and let go.

This was definitely an experience.

First of all (and it was a choice), but in the traditional treatment, only the groin area is covered for the first part.  I decided to go for it and I was surprisingly relaxed with being mostly naked on a table with a stranger rubbed oil all over me.  It was very similar to a regular massage, but using speciality oils with certain herbs in it depending on the type of imbalances you may have.

The second part was pretty amazing.  I didn’t know how I was going to feel about having oil poured over my forehead, but it felt AMAZING!  I felt it through out my whole body and at first I just wanted to giggle it felt so good.  It’s very hard to describe, but all I can say is I suggest trying it and would do it again.

After the treatment, the therapist helped me blot my hair and then put a bandana on to sleep in.  Again my choice, but it was recommended to keep the oil in my hair overnight.

I did sleep a little better the second night and got up in the morning to go to moderate yoga at 6:30 AM.  This class was taught by Randall.  I had taken a class by him last time and he has to be one of the best yoga instructors I have ever had.

He is definitely a “don’t judge a book by its cover” person.  He doesn’t have that perfect yoga body that a lot of instructors seem to have.  He does have this amazing, soothing voice and just seems to know instinctively when you need an adjustment or some assistance.  I truly enjoyed his class and it was a great way to wake up.

I thought about going on the morning guided hike, but decided to blow it off.  My hips were feeling a little tight (the only problem with sleeping at Kripalu is my hips don’t seem to like it) and it was drizzling out, so I deciding more reading was in order after silent breakfast.  Check out was at noon and I wanted to spend the rest of the day my way.

I definitely got my zen back by going for the weekend.  I came out of Kripalu feeling very relaxed and realizing that I had completely left all of my worries at home.  There were many things that I didn’t think about all weekend that didn’t even come back to me until I was off the pike.

I think another trip in the spring is in order.


About nancykerins

I am a 38 year full time working mother of one doing my best to get healthy. I had lapband surgery in November of 2010 and then had a revision to the vertical gastric sleeve in February 2012. The purpose of this blog is a therapeutic tool for me to work out my feelings and write about what is going on during this experience. If I can help others through this blog, that is just a bonus.
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