Having just returned from my second visit to Kripalu, my body is still reeling from the experience. On my first visit, about six years ago, I was pregnant and signed up for a women’s drum circle retreat with a shaman. Let me tell you, that was far out!
This time I am at a different stage in my life. Growing older and feeling older has taken a toll on me. When I saw that Anna Guest-Jelley was teaching her “Curvy Yoga” workshop on body acceptance, I jumped at the chance and signed up. Driving up to the Berkshires, where Kripalu is located, is an experience upon itself.
To make the most of the trip, I made sure to update the CD’s in my car– but mostly I listened to Bob Dylan. I have a thing for pilgrimages, and this is one of them. Three hours of winding country roads in late fall, still rich with leaves, is like a driving meditation. Upon my arrival in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, I walked into the main building and I could just feel my body release. There is something in the air there, I swear!
Later that evening, during my first yoga class of the weekend the teacher welcomed the weekend group by acknowledging that most of us have come to Kripalu as a respite from some sort of pain, some battle, some struggle to seek calm and clarity – to reset ourselves. I almost broke down in tears. Mind you, I have a loving and supportive family and my gripes are exceedingly minor, but in such a large space of fellow “seekers” - emotion is mutual.
Anna Guest-Jelley hosted the Learn to Love Your Body workshop where she focuses on body acceptance. In a loving and supporting environment, Anna would show us modifications of postures to address our individual body challenges. In so many more ‘competitive’ yoga environments it is easy to fall prey to feeling invisible and inadequate when surrounded by the young and nimble. So to be in a room where your individual issues are addressed was empowering – I do matter and you do see me. It was an amazing weekend of self-reflection and I feel strong and plugged back in to myself. And as the saying goes, you can take me out of Kripalu, but you can’t take Kripalu out of me.
And to share a quote that Anna shared with the class: “It’s also helpful to realize that this very body that we have, that’s sitting right here right now…with its aches and pleasures…is exactly what we need to be fully human, fully awake, fully alive.” ~Pema Chodron"