I am 5 days returned from my first trip to Kripalu. My purpose of going there was two-fold. Firstly, my friend Angela said it’s an amazing place, and anyone I have talked to who has gone there has echoed that sentiment. Secondly, of late I have become enamored with Yoga Tune Up Therapy Balls, and I discovered that the creator of the balls was going to be teaching a seven-day certification class. I didn’t really know much about Yoga Tune Up (outside of what I had learned via their blogs and the weekly YouTube videos), but I figured it would be a good chance to check out Kripalu whilst also increasing my yoga knowledge. I assumed (erringly I found out) that since the class was going to be held at a retreat center, it would be a relaxing experience with plenty o’ time for reflection, massages, energy treatments, and just general relaxation.
I was disabused of this notion the first evening of class, during which we were provided with the manual for the class, along with the homework assignments. Yes! Homework. And AssignmentSSS not just Assignment. We are told that we would be expected to do 1-2 hours of homework each night. All of us looked at each other with wide-eyed confusion. What were we in for??
Now that it’s all over, I can look back on the initial days philosophically, but at the time, I was, to put it bluntly, rather pissed and overwhelmed. Each night we needed to read and post on 3 blogs and write 3 context grids for poses we learned that day (the grids consisted of breaking down the pose into what it does, how it does it (using muscle names/direction of movements/actions, etc.), what other poses it’s good for, and what it’s good for in daily life). Later in the week we also needed to prepare 4 to 10 minute sequences and present them to the other students and teachers of the class. It was overwhelming.
BUT. But, while it was very overwhelming and stressful and not at all what I was expecting, it was also a really unusual, amazing, edifying experience. I learned SO MUCH in those 7 days. I learned actual anatomy! I learned that I still stick out my ribs and jut my head forward although I am ALWAYS trying to not do that! I learned that I use a ton of repeat words in my teaching. I learned that it’s important to have fellow teachers watch you teach and provide feedback. I learned that sitting in a sauna for 10 minutes with conditioner in your hair makes your hair look amazing. I learned that I’m scared of Jill Miller. I learned that everyone is riddled by FEAR, including myself (but I already knew that last part). I learned that I don’t like to be gone from Tim for 10 days.
I learned that I’m a bit of a loner. Several of the other students paired up and worked on homework together, but I preferred to blaze through it, hazarding guesses instead of spending time talking through it with fellow students and/or the teacher’s assistants. I just wanted to get it done and go to bed. Looking back, I realized that I could have learned so much more by being more patient and open-minded. I’m always in a rush to get to the NEXT THING even if the current thing is pretty great. Now that I am friends with most of my fellow students on Facebook and Instagram, I’ve learned more about them and have come to realize what amazing and experienced people they are! I wish I had taken more time to discover that while I was with them in person.
On a positive note, however, I tried hard to live up to my sankalpa for the week: I am serenely fearless. I spoke up in class more than I wanted to. I went skinny dipping in 50 degree water. I befriended a beautiful yogi at the airport (I assumed she was on her way to Kripalu, and she was). I took walks by myself around the beautiful grounds of Kripalu. I taught 3 short sequences in front of professional yogis. I touched a friend when he broke down. I sent Reiki energy to the people around me who broke down in tears in class (which happened every morning).
It was a very intense week – emotionally, mentally, and physically. It was not what I was expecting, but I am so happy that I did it. I’m still processing the experience and trying to figure out how to move forward – trying to figure out how what I learned fits into what I want to teach and how I want to teach and if I should teach and if so, where and how. The week may have brought up more questions than it answered, but I think it moved me down the path closer to discovering why I am here and what gifts I have to share with this world while I am here. Even if I eventually realize that I am not meant to teach, at least that is another discovery that I have made – one more stone that I over-turned.
Now I want to return to Kripalu for a TRUE yoga retreat. I want to wake up whenever my eyes naturally float open, walk down to the lake, take a dip (clothing optional!), sit in the sauna to warm up, go to yoga, eat a delicious breakfast in a silent room, sit outside and stare at the mountains and imagine riding the mists, eat some more good food, do some more yoga, get my energy body re-situated, attend a seminar taught by an enlightened soul, do some more yoga, chat with amazing interesting people, and then go to bed for a blissful sleep.