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Experiencing Kripalu Yoga and Meditation in Massachusetts

written by: Stephanie Mojica • edited by: Cheryl Gabbert • updated: 6/27/2011

Kripalu yoga and meditation are some of the strongest features of the famed retreat center near Lenox, Massachusetts. Learn more about these basic building blocks by reading this article.

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    Available Yoga Levels

    Kripalu yoga is offered at three levels aimed to accommodate a variety of practitioners; gentle, moderate and vigorous. The gentle yoga class is still a quality workout that lasts about 75 minutes, including a brief relaxation period. The moderate and vigorous yoga classes are aimed toward those who don’t have any major health issues and have regularly practiced yoga for at least a few months; usually at least six months is ideal, according to a printed Kripalu welcome packet.

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    Instructor Friendliness

    While at Kripalu, I joined two classes; a Friday evening gentle yoga and a Sunday afternoon meditation class. Abbe was my yoga instructor and Cody was the meditation teacher. Abbe and Cody both immediately welcomed me and made me feel at ease. I noticed they were friendly and welcoming to all class members, and gave specific direction as needed to those of us who had concerns with physical stamina or injuries.

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    Instructional Quality

    Abbe and Cody are both quality instructors that I wish I could take more often. Both make it easy to follow directions; I have yoga and meditation experience but it seems that even newcomers to either discipline could quickly learn the building blocks when taking Kripalu yoga or meditation with either of these instructors.

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    The Kripalu Difference

    The word “shanti” which means peace is used a lot at Kripalu; I noticed this word uttered throughout yoga as well as some of my healing arts appointments such as craniosacral energy therapy. The gentle yoga postures were nothing brand new to me, but admittedly I’ve taken more than my fair share of yoga classes and used well over a dozen yoga videos. It seemed that more emphasis was placed on the spiritual experience rather than perfecting the yogic postures, though Abbe gave me a few gentle modifications especially during the standing postures. These were quite welcomed, as standing postures sometimes make me feel a little dizzy and off-balance physically.

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    Meditation Accessibility

    Meditation at Kripalu does not require practitioners to believe in any specific diety or any diety at all. Also, the classes offered usually incorporate discussion, question and answers and one or two brief sitting periods. Even for a complete beginner, a simple breath-counting, 10-minute meditation should be a mild introduction to the potential benefits of meditation.

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    Yoga Accessibility

    Kripalu yoga seems designed to be as accessible as possible to the wide variety of people who walk through their doors, whether for an afternoon or a year. Instructors give modifications as needed and also the multiple levels available can provide anything from a gentle yogic introduction to a sweaty power yoga workout.

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    Room Quality

    The rooms in which yoga and meditation are offered are spacious, have new equipment including mats and cushions, and offer scenic views of nature and the Kripalu campus. However, the room temperature stops this aspect of the Kripalu yoga experience from garnering five stars; summertime is just really hot in this part of the country and the air conditioner is not always as effective as some of us would like it to be. This was a common complaint I heard during my visit to Kripalu from other guests, and I hope they will eventually remedy this issue.

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    References

    Kripalu Official Website: http://www.kripalu.org