My Summer Vacation at the Kripalu Center For Yoga & Health Part 3


Friday, our first day at Kripalu, we unpacked our things and organized them meeting a few of the women that were already unpacked and staying in the same room (there would be 8 of us total).  After getting organized, Josie took me on a tour of the facility since she is very knowledgeable about Kripalu.  This was her 7th stay at the center.  Next it was time for dinner. The cafeteria at Kripalu is amply air-conditioned and large enough to accommodate a large number of people.  You do not have to specifically eat there though. There are a few other rooms you may go to if you don’t like a crowded cafeteria or you may even choose to take your meal outside to the front terrace and enjoy the view.  The cafeteria offers a buffet for vegetarians, non-vegetarians and also a Buddha bar.

After dinner, Josie and I went off to do our own thing. She went to her teacher training class and I went to Kripalu orientation which was very helpful for people who had never been to the facility and needed to know about proper Kripalu etiquette.  Next I went on to enjoy the most divine yoga nidra class.  The teacher, Jennifer Reis was very warm and calming and we even had some rain falling outside as a natural sound effect.  Some people were so relaxed I heard some snoring and there were a few that were still lying on the floor when everyone else was getting up to leave class.  After class, I took a quick shower (the showers are equipped with their own shampoo, conditioner and shower gel) and went off to the Sun Room Lounge to read my book before going to bed.  (It is lights out at 10 pm and I am not ready to sleep at that time.)  The top bunk I had to sleep in took me back to my childhood at the family camp.  It had been years since I was in a bunk bed.

I was up bright and early for the 6:00 am Kripalu yoga class and chose the intermediate class.  This class was just enough movement to be invigorating in the morning to catch some energy for the day.  After class I had worked up an appetite. Breakfast is a real treat at Kripalu. Breakfast is always silent if you choose to eat in the cafeteria.  They have a variety of hot cereal and good gluten free breads that you can put some yummy natural peanut butter and a variety of jellies on.   After breakfast I went to explore the labyrinth.  I did a nice walking meditation and then stopped at the Buddha and gave him an offering.

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After the labyrinth, I took a short hike on the trail east of the Shadowbrook building (that’s the name of the main facility).

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After my hike, I went off to spend quality time at beautiful Lake Mahkeenac.  The lake is a 15 to 20 minute walk from the main facility down to the private beach area of Kripalu.  It was quiet and peaceful.  I put on some Krishna Das and meditated out in the sun.

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After all of that work, my stomach started growling ferociously and I walked back for lunch and then took the outdoor meditation class taking place in the large tent to the east of the Shadowbrook building.  The teacher was Ken Nelson.  He talked a bit about meditation, did some breathing awareness exercises and then we did a 20 minute sit to this gorgeous view:


The weather was spectacular for most of the day and I really wasn’t keen on spending it inside so I walked around and explored grounds some more.  I found a few other interesting gems in the process.


As I was enjoying the grounds of Kripalu I noticed that dark clouds were beginning to collect in the sky. This was not a good sign because I had a 6:00 p.m. guided Kayaking activity that I had pre-registered for.  Even though it wasn’t looking too promising I decided to get my things in order to kayak and take the walk down to the lake.  The leaders for the activity were already beginning to put some of the kayaks away although they assured us that they didn’t cancel yet.  It wasn’t too long after my arrival that we started to hear thunder and eventually the activity had to be cancelled.  I hauled butt to make it back to Shadowbrook and I made it just in time because a strong storm passed through.  When it was all over, it left us with a beautiful rainbow:


After dinner I enjoyed the Rest and Unwind Yoga class and was lucky enough to catch the tail end of the Maggie & Hannah concert which I enjoyed immensely.  I then found some quiet space to read before going off to bed.

On Sunday, my final day of the retreat, I woke up at 6:00 am for the Gentle yoga class which was a really great class to wake up with after all of the activity I did the day before.  The leader used sound healing and mantra in her practice.  After silent breakfast I went off to do a bit more exploring of the grounds until the Qigong on the Lawn class.  Qigong was lead once again by Ken Nelson.  He seemed very knowledgeable and the practice was quite enjoyable.  We got to watch the mist rise until the sun burned it off unveiling a beautiful view of the Stockbridge Bowl.
After Qigong on the Lawn, I met up w/ Josie again.  We packed up our things ,put them in the luggage room, and went off to eat lunch and then sadly we left the facility.  Although my time felt a bit rushed, that’s the nature of a weekend R&R Retreat at Kripalu.  Any inconveniences I was worried about in the beginning were outweighed by all of the good things at Kripalu.  I thought everything was spectacular and I really loved my time and hope to revisit again someday.

My Summer Vacation at the Kripalu Center For Yoga & Health Part 2


While the summer seemed to fly by, the time from when I told Josie that I wanted to ride along with her until it was time to leave seemed to take forever.  I did my research of the facility online and read reviews of others who had visited.  While over 75% of the reviews were positive, there were a few things from the negative reviews that bothered me.  (1) Sharing a room with others (although there are private rooms available, the most economic choice is to go with a dorm room; (2) Sharing bathroom/shower facilities (the term “vacation” usually doesn’t conjure up thoughts of dragging shampoo and other necessities to a bathroom down the hall); and (3) No A/C in dorm rooms and some other rooms in the facility (Kripalu was originally a Jesuit monk seminary making the facility bare bones).    I contacted Kripalu about not having A/C in the dorm room, especially in the summer, and they assured me that the Berkshires (the mountain range where Kripalu is located) are very cool at night and each visitor is provided with box fans for the dorm rooms.    This eased my mind a bit.

Before I knew it, Josie and I were embarking on the 5 hour drive from Williamsport, PA, to Stockbridge, MA.  It was an interesting drive with some absolutely stunning scenery along the way.  From the mountains in Northeastern Pennsylvania, to a peak of the outer edge of the Catskill Mountains in New York, until we finally arrived in the Berkshires in Lenox, MA, and Kripalu in neighboring Stockbridge.
Before arriving at the facility, Josie made a quick stop at Olivia’s Overlook, a grand view of the “Stockbridge Bowl” that Kripalu is a part of.
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My excitement began to grow knowing that we were so close to Kripalu.  Then we saw the actual entrance sign and I had to grab a picture.  Pulling into the parking lot a Kripalu you got the sense that this was a very busy weekend for the yoga center.  Most parking spaces were already taken and people were already out bustling.
The view of Kripalu Yoga and Health Center is a grand view in and of itself.  The building is impressively large.  The word “institution” is the first thing that comes to mind; a grand majestic institution.  That is not surprising since the facility was originally a Jesuit monk seminary (built in 1957) and later a yoga cult.  If you go back over 100 years, before this institution was built, a grand mansion sat on the premises.  There is a very rich history if you take the time to look into it (Google it.  It’s worth it!).
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After the cardio inducing walk up the hill from the parking lot to the front entrance of Kripalu, we made our way to the registration area for our welcome packet, name tag, schedule and room card key.  Josie and I were very lucky that the rooms we got were located on the first and main floor.  We were not so lucky that in the room we would be staying, only top bunks were available.  I’ll talk more about my classes and the rest of my visit in Part 3.
I am sorry I do not have more pictures of the inside of the facility.  Electronic devices are frowned upon and it is prohibited to take pictures of the other participants so I just shied away from even coming close to offending anyone by taking a picture of them.  You can try if you would like to see more of the facility.

My Summer Vacation at the Kripalu Center For Yoga & Health Part 1

Followers of MisTransformation know by now that I love my yoga.  For the past few years my summer vacations have involved yoga in some form or another whether it was yoga on the beach in Ocean City, Maryland, or attending the Finger Lakes Yoga Festival in Ithaca, New York, two years in a row.  I have been looking for something deeper to enrich my yoga practice.  I would like to do a yoga retreat in Costa Rica but I just can’t afford the expense at the moment. I also like the idea of going to one of the larger yoga festivals out in Colorado or California but again, I just can’t swing that expense right now either.  That is where Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health (Kripalu) comes into play.

One of my yoga teachers, Josie, had been to Kripalu numerous times. She has talked about how much she loves it and how great the facility is.  Josie gives credit to Kripalu as giving her her start in the world of yoga.  I was definitely intrigued and curious to find out what Kripalu was all about. It sounded like something I would love.  Josie always has Kripalu magazines available at the yoga studio and I always pick up the current month’s copy to read.  The programs all sound interesting and enjoyable.  There are many to choose from and Kripalu isn’t just for yoga aficionados but there is something for a wide range of people.  Categories include Health & Wellness; Fitness & Outdoors; Self-Discovery; Spiritual Practice; events for families; events for women only; events for men only; children’s events; yoga teacher training; school of ayurveda; an R&R retreat package and for an added fee healing arts options.

The cost of Kripalu seemed pretty reasonable to me but the only problem was that it is in Stockbridge, Massachusetts which is at least 6 hours away from where I live and I don’t really like to drive that far by myself.  One day in the spring during class Josie announced that she was going to be attending a teacher training program at Kripalu in the summer and if anyone wanted to check out what programs were going on that weekend they could ride along with her if they were interested.  That sounded right up my alley. I checked out the programs and I liked the idea of an R&R Retreat.  It give you the option to create your own personal experience at Kripalu.  They have classes and programs offered to those doing an R&R Retreat and you can choose to attend them or not.  You could choose to spend your time at the lake if you wanted, reading in the quiet room or exploring the grounds.  The time is yours to do as you please.

I decided I wanted to go and I told Josie I was interested in going along with her in August.  I explained that I couldn’t drive myself that far and she agreed that I could ride along.

I will detail my actual experience in Part 2 of My Summer Vacation at the Kripalu Center For Yoga & Health.

Anna Kaiser – Happy Hour Workout DVD Review

Wow!  I didn’t realize it has been since the end of April that I last did a workout DVD review.  I have done so many new ones in between that I never reviewed and I really must GET ON THE BALL!   I have been out enjoying the spring (today feels like summer, however) and have been busy.  I’ve been to a few concerts and visited NYC to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.  I’m going to Washington, DC for the Fourth of July and to the Kripalu Yoga Center in Massachusetts in August plus a few more concerts.


Anyway, I did this workout yesterday and really felt that it was a fun upbeat workout and I wanted to blog about it while it was still fresh in my memory.

If Anna looks a little familiar to you, you may remember her from the first Insanity workout series.  Shaun T. called on her more than a few times during the workouts and she was kickass back then.  Well, Anna has done more than well for herself since I’ve seen her in Insanity.  She has her own AKT In Motion studio ( in the Upper East Side of Manhattan and other locations such as SoHo, Connecticut and in East Hampton.  The monthly fees for an unlimited membership is over $400! (Not in my lifetime.)  She pulls in clientele such as Sarah Jessica Parker (Sarah does an intro to this DVD).  I previously did a workout with her when a live studio workout was featured on Pop Sugar. I liked that workout and I was happy when I saw she released a DVD version wondering what took her so long!

For this workout you will need some light weights:  3s, 5s and 8s – maybe 10s.  Trust me you don’t want to go too heavy. This workout is not designed that way. You will also need a lot of space for this workout. My living room is small and I had to modify to the size of my room.  In addition you will also need a lot of time.  I thought the workout was going to be an hour TOTAL including the warm up, cool down, etc.  Nope, I was wrong.  The meat of the workout is an hour.  The warm up is 12 minutes as is the cool down (184 minutes total).  Keep that in mind when you choose this workout for the day.

There are 10 blocks in this workout:

Section 1

Warm up Part 1 – Some dynamic stretching: Reaches; hip rolls; jacks and grape vines, etc.  After the stretching she does cardio moves to warm up the body.

Warm Up Part II – Plyos.  (Done on the floor.  Not really sure why this is called plyos except for the mountain climbers, floor jacks and crab kicks but it’s an effective section.)

Section 2:  Cardio – Nice dance combination broken down and repeated several times and then repeated starting on the opposite lead.  You are provided a modifier. This combo was my favorite of the two different dance combinations.

Anna gives you little stretch breaks between cardio segments (and strength sections) to make this interval training.  She mentions this a few times in the video. You can get water, towel off, etc.

Section 3:  Arms.  Using both your body weight and light hand weights Anna challenges your upper body.  The moves aren’t your typical curls and presses.

Section 4:  Cardio – On this section you start out with the familiar combo but then Anna teaches you a new one.  The second combo is a bit more involved and a little more dancey but still not too complicated that you don’t get a good workout. As with the first combo this one is broken down, repeated several times and provides modifications.

Section 5:  Lower Body (Right Leg) – Using hand weights Anna challenges your booty with lateral lunges and leg lifts.  Then she goes into a curtsy lunge to balance and then the two moves are combined.   If that wasn’t enough, then she goes into a reverse tabletop on the floor with some leg lifts and pulses until you are toast.

Section 6:  Cardio – This is the second combination adding on new moves.   You’ll be spinning, leaping for fun, fun, fun!

Section 7:  Lower Body (Left Leg) – A repeat of what was done on the right leg.

Section 8:  Cardio – Now you know the second combination and you can really dig into it for an intense cardio segment challenged once again at the end on the opposite lead.

Section 9:  Core –  Using light hand weights Anna starts you standing for some core work that includes some reaches and punching drills.  You finish off the core with some work on the floor.  This is challenging and will fry your abs.

Section 10:  Cool Down.  Like the warm up the cool down is 12 minutes long and very effective to release all of the hard work you just did.

I give this workout 4 out of 5 stars. I deducted a star because of the space issue that some people will have.  I think it is a great effort by Anna. The DVD also has a Q&A section and a treadmill workout using light hand weights (Anna has a download of a treadmill workout on her AKT In Motion site.)

Happy Hour has fun dance cardio combos, is simple enough to manage but intense enough to get a good workout.  The strength portions are icing on the cake. (Um, the figurative cake.)

I hope Anna releases more workout DVDs in the future.

Men’s Health Anarchy Workout System Review


Anarchy is one of the latest offerings from Men’s Health.  I have reviewed a few other Men’s Health workouts on MisTransformation notably the workouts with BJ Gaddour.  The Anarchy workouts were created by Andy Speer.  He was the winner of Men’s Health Next Top Trainer competition in which BJ Gaddour was a judge.  Some people may remember Andy from one of the Insanity offerings as well.

Anarchy is a 6 week program split into two 3 week phases. You get 3 discs with the system.  Disc one is your Phase One workouts – Cardio – Strength and Endurance.  You are meant to do these workouts once a week for 3 days a week for three weeks and then move on to the Phase Two workouts on Disc two.  This phase is also set up with the Cardio/Strength/Endurance workouts that you do each workout once for 3 days a week.  On your off days you may use the workouts on Disc three which are Anarchy Abs and Free Flow.  The Anarchy workouts are 30 minutes in length except for the Abs and Free Flow workouts (about 15 minutes).  You don’t need a lot of equipment for Anarchy; a set of moderate dumbbells will suffice.

The Anarchy system is all about progression.  Progression in the workouts themselves from round to round and progression within the system from Phase One to Phase Two.

Phase One:

Cardio:  No equipment needed in this one.  After a thorough warmup you will do three rounds of dynamic movements that get your heart rate up.  Each round offers different amount of time for the work to rest ratio.  In each round you do a set of movements and in the next round the movements progress to a higher level of difficulty.

Strength:  A set of moderate dumbbells is needed.  I think this was my favorite out of all of the workouts.  I liked the combination of movements.  Goblet Squats – Lawnmower rows – Split Stance lunge with a shoulder press – RDL – Skull Crushers and Chest presses.  These moves progress in round two the goblet squat adds a curl – the split stance lunch add a push press –  the deadlift becomes a one-legged deadlift – during your skull crusher you lift your legs and the chest press is harder with an iso hold.  The work to rest ratio also changes from round to round.

Most notably in this workout is the Burnout Round:  6 exercises 30 seconds each with no break between moves.  These are moves you will be familiar with – most having been done in this workout.  This Burnout round is really what makes this workout special.  When I was done I wished the whole workout had been this tough.

Endurance:  No equipment necessary.  This is a bodyweight challenged workout.  This workout has a 6 minute warmup which is the longest warmup of all 6 workouts on Anarchy.  The moves you will be doing challenge your balance and some challenge your core. Some of the moves you will be doing are:  Sprint balance hold – Sprint buildup run – Pulldown to pushup – Downward dog to pushup (or do a divebomber if you can) – Rockstar sweep (which is like a breakdance move) – bodyweight crawls and bird dogs. The work to rest ratio is primarily 45 seconds of work to 15 seconds of rest.

Round Three of this workout has some dynamic movements like the hollow rock (hollow man while rocking) – punch jacks – bunny jacks and a squat jack.  These are done 45 seconds with 15 seconds of rest.

This workout also has a Burnout Round of 6 moves done for 30 seconds each with no rest between.

PHASE TWO has the same setup as Phase One.  The moves are very similar but they harder in difficulty level and there is more work time and less rest times.  Again my favorite was the Strength routine.  Most notably is the sumo high pull that progresses from round one to a dumbbell snatch in round two.  Also deserving of a mention is the fact that the finisher in Strength Two is 4 minutes in length.

In addition, I also liked the finisher round in Endurance Two – this is a three minute thirty second long round in which you do a pyramid of two movements – the pushup and the squat jump.  First you do one of each; then two of each; then three of each, etc., trying to make your way up the pyramid to ten reps.

Anarchy Abs and the Free Flow workouts on Disc 3 are about 15 minutes in length each.  Anarchy abs is a true testament to why Andy has developed the midsection that he has (which is pretty sexy I must say).  The Free Flow workout are some mobility and stretching movements that are a nice add-on to any of these other workouts and you even get a tad bit of strength added in here on some of the movements.

Overall I would give Anarchy 4 out of 5.  I would have given it 5 stars if it just had a little something extra like Black Fire (read my earlier review of the Black Fire program). The burnout rounds are really what I was hoping for in the entire system.  In fact I loved the burnout rounds so much in this workout that I strung all of them together one day for an entire workout of burnouts and I have to say that this was PURE ANARCHY.  What I did was used the warmup for the first burnout round that I was going to complete then forwarded to the burnout round (watch the clock so you can stop promptly).  After completing the burnout round of course you have to stop and start and go to the next burnout round on the next workout which might seem like a pain but if you are prepared and do it fast enough it’s a welcome break and not too long either – just be quick about it.  You can then use the cool down on the last burnout round you complete.  This was what I was really hoping for out of a workout entitled Anarchy.

Michelle Dozois BodyFit 360 Vol. 3 Workout DVD Review


If you follow MisTransformation you know that I am a fan of Michelle’s Peak10 series.  I have done several of those workouts and reviewed a few previously on my blog.  I am also a HUGE fan of Michelle’s BodyFit 360 Vol. 1 workout and reviewed that on my blog previously.  (I will post it below).  I have to say that Volume 3 Athletic Conditioning is the perfect combination of Peak10 and BodyFit 360.  It has the athletic challenge of Peak10 with jumps, lunges and squats but it also has the great bodyweight challenged combinations of BodyFit 360 Vol. 1 while being less dancey.

This volume has two workouts:  Athletic Conditioning and Athletic Stretch.   There is a movement review segment to view for the Athletic Conditioning combinations and I strongly suggest watching this before doing the workout because some of the combinations are a little tricky at first.

Athletic Conditioning: 

For this workout you will need a towel and not just for wiping sweat.  You will actually be using it as part of the workout. This workout has a modifier and you may want to watch the entire routine before you try it if you believe you will be following her because you may not catch what she is doing in time when in the throws of the workout.

This workout is 40 minutes in length and has 8 blocks of combinations (including warm-up and cool down). Block 6 will focus on the upper body with the towel and block 7 focuses on the core.

This workout contains all the things I love like punching and kicking.  You will also be doing burpees, jacks and squats.  The bodyweight challenged combinations are built on the plank so have your wrists and your core prepared (what I call breakdance moves).

This workout was a lot of fun but it was just the right amount of challenge.  I really felt my body was heated up at the end of the workout differently than if I had done a workout with dumbbells.

Athletic Stretch: 

This program is 20 minutes in length and can be used on an active rest day or after a workout for additional stretching and mobility work.  Michelle gets you warmed up before going into the stretches.  This isn’t yoga but does incorporate some familiar yoga poses such as:  Warrior 1; pigeon; dragon; happy baby and child’s pose.  I found myself doing  ujjay breathing (yoga breath) while settling into the poses.

Michelle utilizes the towel for some of the stretches.  You could also use a yoga strap.

I think this would be a nice program for someone who doesn’t like yoga but wants to increase their flexibility.

All in all I would give BodyFit 360 Volume 3 FIVE out of FIVE stars.  I’m so happy MIchelle decided to continue with this series and hopefully I will be able to review Volume 2 Dance Conditioning for you.

My previous review of BodyFit 360 Vol. 1: