Archive for the Stress Relief Category

Another R&R at Kripalu Coming Up: Stay Tuned

Posted in Kripalu, labyrinth, Motivation/Inspiration, Qigong, Stress Relief, Yoga with tags , , on March 31, 2016 by mistransformation


Followers of my blog will know I went to visit the world-renowned Kripalu Yoga and Health Center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts last August.  I am lucky enough to have another visit booked in a few weeks.  I have been excited to go back ever since I left last year.

I will blog about it after my visit for sure.

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

Posted in Health/Fitness, hiking, Kripalu, labyrinth, Motivation/Inspiration, Qigong, Review, Review of Product, Stress Relief, Yoga on September 21, 2015 by mistransformation


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 the 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

Posted in Health/Fitness, Kripalu, Review, Stress Relief, Yoga on September 13, 2015 by mistransformation


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

Posted in Health/Fitness, Kripalu, Review, Stress Relief, Yoga on September 1, 2015 by mistransformation

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.

Patrick Goudeau Presents: Release with Erin Kirk – Yoga DVD Review

Posted in Health/Fitness, Motivation/Inspiration, Review of Product, Stress Relief, Workout DVDs, Workout review, Yoga on August 7, 2014 by mistransformation


Release is a yoga practice video that is lead by Erin Kirk and presented by Mr. Choreography himself, Patrick Goudeau.

I appreciated this yoga practice because it had something other than your typical sun salutations over and over like many other DVDs out on the market (Disclosure:  Sun Salutations are not my favorite vinyasa flow).

This practice starts out with a dancey type rhythmic warmup.  This was a bit different and sort of had me afraid that I would not care for the rest of the practice but then we went into the Starfish Sun Salute vinyasa flow and my mind changed. This vinyasa was a non-warrior flow and featured triangles and starfish poses.

In this practice you will do lots of fun things like lizard pose, eagle balance, work your core with boat pose and open your hips with pigeon pose.

In the end we get the sweet little dessert known as savasana and enjoy a bit of chanting and singing by Erin.

This practice does allow for someone that is advanced to go to their level of a pose while a less experienced yogi could stay back with the level that is comfortable for them.  Always remember:  Yoga is a personal practice and you should do what is good for your body and not push to what hurts your body.

That being said, I was surprised at how well Patrick did throughout the video.  While he couldn’t exactly do everything the teacher did, he did exhibit that he definitely has been practicing yoga for awhile.

I would give this yoga practice DVD 4 out of  5 stars.  I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.


Scott Cole Discover Tai Chi For Fitness Workout DVD Review

Posted in Health/Fitness, Motivation/Inspiration, Review of Product, Stress Relief, Tai Chi, Workout DVDs, Workout review on February 15, 2014 by mistransformation


Okay, I found a new love and that love is Scott Cole (he’s really hot for his age – over 50).  At a recent stop to my local library I found Discover Tai Chi in the Fitness section of the library.  Scott has quite a few tai chi DVDs on the market  but this is my first tai chi experience with him.

My dablings in tai chi are minimal.  A few workouts that I own use it as a cool down at the end of a workout.  I always felt the calming effects and thought it might be enjoyable so one day I tried a different  tai chi DVD from the library about a year ago.  I gave up quickly when I just could not follow along with the guy leading it.  I did not have any problems following along with Scott at all.  Scott’s demeanor is very soft, calm and gentle.

This tai chi DVD has Five different 10 minute segments:  Balance; Strength; Mobility; Flexibility; and Stress Reduction.  I would say the first three segments (Balance, Strength and Mobility) focus the most on tai chi whereas Flexibility and Stress Reduction have a little yoga thrown in as well. The Stress Reduction portion uses a chair.

In some of the segments you will hear Scott talk about qigong and how it relates and differs from tai chi.  I have only dabbled in quigong but would like to learn more about this in the future as well.

This DVD contains bonus segments including a short position review tutorial which may be helpful if you have no prior experience with tai chi.  I didn’t view this tutorial until after I completed the entire DVD.

Someone that likes yoga may like tai chi or on the opposite end someone that doesn’t like yoga may prefer tai chi because of its constant movement.   One thing that I like about tai chi that I also like about yoga is that it takes away my anxiety and calms me.

On another note:  Be sure to visit the bonus section of this DVD to watch Scott practice tai chi shirtless.  You won’t be disappointed.

I almost didn’t pick this DVD up at the library and I’m really glad I did.  I found it very calming and peaceful and hope to try a few more of Scott’s tai chi DVDs in the future.

Four out of Five Stars.