10 October 2012

the yoga weekend

Last year for my birthday, Chris gave me a gift certificate to Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Lenox, MA. When I was a freshman in college, my mom gave my sister and I a beginner's yoga retreat there as a Christmas present and I've since been back several times for various concerts and events. Every time a class catalog arrives, I highlight and bookmark all of the workshops I'd like to go to. Imagine my delight when I opened this present. (Long sidenote: Yeah. Look at this. A papercut portrait of me, with my pixie cut, doing yoga, holding a birthday cupcake. All on the folder that contains a gift certificate for a yoga retreat. Best birthday present ever, methinks. Chris is a real artist with construction paper, and I mean that sincerely.)

You can always schedule a R&R getaway at Kripalu and fill up your time with yoga classes, outdoor activities, lectures, healing arts sessions and so on. I really wanted to sign up for a more structured workshop though, only because I think I do better with a little bit of focus, even on retreats :) If left with a completely wide-open agenda, I tend to get a little anxious about making sure that I'm taking advantage of the opportunities and doing enough and "getting my money's worth". I need a little structure.

There were plenty of workshops earlier in the year that I would have loved to attend but for various reasons didn't fit in my schedule. I was ecstatic, then, to hear that rockstar yogini Sadie Nardini was hosting a Core Strength Transformation workshop in September and that I didn't have other pre-planned commitments that weekend! (As it turns out, a work commitment did spring up but I had already booked my stay.)

I first found Sadie through Daily Om. If you don't know Daily Om, check it. Their emails are the only daily newsletters that I don't automatically delete. Sadie had an online course there that my mom hooked me up with, and I thought she was rad. I've since taken another online course with her and watched a gazillion of her YouTube videos

I packed up my bag and yoga mat and drove out to Kripalu right from work one Friday. It's nestled into the beautiful Berkshires, overlooking the Stockbridge Bowl and surrounded by gorgeous property. The weekend was really great, but it wasn't great because it was a major awakening for me or a total transformation. It was great because it reinforced a path that I've been wandering for awhile now. I went to yoga classes (four of them), chatted in our workshops with Sadie, went for an early morning hike, put my brave face on and went to an insane yoga dance class with live drumming, ate every single meal outside looking at the mountains and spent time alone reading and drinking tea. It was awesome. I kept thinking, yep, this is good. This is what I try to bring into my daily life. I tried to think of ways to incorporate that retreat feeling into everyday, and I've been doing pretty well.

And the food! Kripalu food is legendary. I would guess that a good number of visitors to Kripalu are forced to change their eating habits pretty dramatically when they get there. Meals are served buffet-style and the buffets are filled with healthy, simple, local, delicious food. Mostly vegetarian, with a few chicken and fish options available. Gluten-free, vegan options abound. Iced & hot tea, juices and water for drinks. So, you know, pretty healthy. But for me, I had to try not to go completely overboard with portions because as I told Chris, "It's exactly like the food we make, only better." 

Escaping for a full weekend retreat isn't always an option, but it's probably possible to set aside a day or even just a morning to do a mini, at-home retreat. That doesn't mean watching re-runs or cleaning the bathrooms. Take time to be outside, to be quiet, to do a little yoga, to introspect a bit... it's awesome. If you are a lady, I recommend taking a peak at The Way of the Happy Woman for other seasonal retreat ideas. If you are a dude, you know, do a one-day dude retreat.

PS- Also, I bought these fun new yoga pants.


  1. So much goodness in this post!! Where to begin?

    For starts, I love the new yoga pants.

    It must be such a joy to have someone in your life (Chris) who loves you THIS much. Just the time he took to make that awesome card speaks volumes about his love for you. Really sweet.

    On the rare chance I go away on a vacation/retreat (usually to Mohonk Mountain House, I also tell myself "It's exactly like the food we make, only better." Except I'm actually lying, because the food I make is never even close to being that good.

    I've dabbled in yoga, but it's not really something you can dabble in, I think. I wish I had more time to incorporate it into my life and daily practice. I guess my daily "retreat" is just spending time outside doing farm stuff. Splitting wood, weeding the garden, just lazing around in the hammock while the kids play. I have a hard time doing anything for myself that isn't productive, so I try to let my mind wander while I do "chores" so I feel I get at least a mental retreat daily. ("The Way..." is such a great book, btw!! Thank you again for that!)

    You seem very happy Christine, and it makes me happy to see how well you are thriving!

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