Ever since my visit in August 2015 I could not wait for a second trip back to Kripalu. After I read the book Yoga and the Quest for the True Self by Stephen Cope, a Kripalu instructor that’s history with the facility goes back to the days when Kripalu was still an ashram and during the dramatic years when Amrit Desai led the ashram. Stephen really went into detail about how that “went down” and you’ll have to read the book yourself or google it to find out about it.
Anyway in his book Stephen mentioned different places he and his friend would visit on hikes, etc. He also mentioned the old mansion that used to sit on the lands that had some interesting history such as Andrew Carnegie finished out his last days there and the Jesuit Monk facility had actually started out in that mansion but burned down one day in March in the 1950s. Some of the monks died in the fire. Some of the ruins are still on the property. After discovering that I had missed a lot of the facility during my first visit, I wanted to go back and experience it again.
Monk’s Pond was a place that Stephen had mentioned in his book. I had seen pictures on the internet and wanted to visit it myself during my stay. You have to hike away from the facility to get to it and since I’m not from that area I wanted to make sure I knew how to get to it. I googled Monks Pond and came across a blog of a visitor to Kripalu just a few months before my visit. The blogger talked about her personal struggles in life and after reading her blog post I knew that I definitely wanted to visit it during my stay.
You can read the blog post here: The Hike
It was a long 6 hour drive from North Central Pennsylvania (with stops along the way) to Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The first day Josie and I did a nice Intermediate level yoga class, ate dinner and then I went on my own way and explored the grounds. It was raining when we first arrived so later that day when I took pictures, there is a lot of mist in the photos.
I explored the grounds and came up the ruins of the old Shadowbrook mansion. The remains of some of the foundation are truly impressive and show the the massive size that the mansion was before the fire. The history of the mansion is truly interesting and if you would like to read about it and also view pictures of how it once was, please see this link. Shadowbrook Fire — I should note, the picture of the tree above is the famous camperdown elm that sits to the front of the old mansion ruins. The other picture of the rock formation and the view from above when I was sitting on the rock ledge. All of this is in the area of the ruins.
After exploring the grounds, I did a yoga nidra class, went to the sunroom to read for the night and then went to bed. I had my silent alarm set to 5 am to wake up and get a shower and did the 6:30 am gentle yoga class led by Sherri Howard, Kripalu yoga teacher. The class was amazing. It was a great class for waking up and during savasana Sherri began to sing and she had this beautiful voice which I overheard another class attendee describe as magical.
After eating silent breakfast, I attended a lecture by the famous Kripalu instructor Coby Kozlowski. It was an amazing lecture where Coby talked about modern day yoga as compared to the ancient practice and how we can tie it into our lives today. It was very uplifting and inspirational.
After the lecture I got ready for my hike to Monks Pond. The path starts on the Kripalu facility and you hike up the side of the mountain to the main road, cross to where there is a gate and then follow Old Baldhead Road to the pond. Once at the pond I decided I wasn’t finished hiking and I crossed to where there is a crossroad path and you can choose right or left. I chose to go right, hiked for about 30 minutes more through the beautiful Berkshires and then hiked back to the facility. Here are some pictures to get an idea.
After Monks Pond I made my way back to the facility, ate lunch and then went out to explore the grounds again. I made my way to Swami Kripalu’s Meditation Garden and a few other gems located along the way including a maple syrup harvesting operation (pic of the trees w/ blue tubing).
I also visited the beautiful lake and labyrinth as I did during my last trip.
After a long day of exploring I felt that my body needed the late afternoon gentle yoga class. That was led by another popular teacher at Kripalu, Michelle Dalbec. It was a nice way to stretch my legs out and relax after all the walking I did that day. My fitbit was busy and I think I registered about 22,000 steps that day.
After the class, I ate dinner and then somewhere along the way Josie and I met up to go to the Saturday night show that Kripalu offers. Tonight’s show was by amazing artist, Morley. Since Prince had just passed away days before, she started the show with a great cover of an almost unknown Prince tune, Free. She performed acoustically, accompanied by a percussionist/bassist. Morley talked between songs and wow she has done some amazing and impressive things worldwide in connection with human rights. I could probably write a post on her alone. (Can’t take pictures for that folks, sorry – electronic use is limited inside of Kripalu.)
After the show, I went to the sunroom again to read and then called it a night as I was very tired from hiking all day.
The next day, I slept through my 5 am silent alarm but some noise woke me up at 5:30 so I showered and got ready for the 6:30 am gentle yoga class. This was the same teacher I had last visit and also on a Sunday. After class I ate a good breakfast and then headed out for the day. Once again I decided it was another hiking day. I did not plan to go all the way to Olivia’s Overlook (which I visited by car last visit) but at the last minute I wondered if I had enough time to try it so I walked along with cup of coffee in my hand. When I made it to a crossroad in the path you could choose left or right. I chose left and ran into some women along the trail. I asked them how much further to the overlook and they told me it would have been shorter if I had chosen going to the right direction. I wasn’t that far up the path so I turned around and took that way instead. Boy was I happy. It was a lot of uphill hiking from that point on but it wasn’t that much further and I made it to Olivia’s Overlook.
After hiking it was time to pack up my things and get ready to leave later that day. I relaxed on the property until I met up with Josie for lunch. One of the last things I viewed before going in for lunch was a mantra rock left behind by a previous visitor. It read, “Every Day Should Feel This Good.” That pretty much summed up my trip to Kripalu. I wish every day could feel this good.
After lunch Josie and I went to the mansion ruins so she could view them and then we started on our way home. It was a short stay but a memorable one for sure. I have a funny story to tell. After my gentle yoga class on Saturday I went to the cafe for coffee, I saw a man coming out of the corner of my eye and I was fearful he was going to try to jump ahead of me. Then as I was getting my coffee I felt as though he was rushing me. I didn’t say anything but went to pay for my coffee and then I heard the man talking to one of the workers at the cafe. I looked over and it was none other than Bryan Kest. THE Bryan Kest. He had been standing behind me in line at the cafe. Josie was taking his program. Anybody into yoga knows that Bryan Kest is a yoga rock star and if I had known it was him in line behind me, I would have let him get his coffee first for sure.
Anyway, that was my second visit to Kripalu and another fantastic time for sure.