Saturday, October 31, 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Addicted to Tension

Last week I did a program with Seane Corn called Detox Flow. We did a lot of intense postures, building heat and twisting and detoxing our bodies with yoga. What I wasn't expecting was her emphasis on emotional detox as well.

She said on the first night "We are addicted to our tension" and I thought: sure lots of people, but not me, I'm pretty flexible and get massages, I have an active job and I don't sit in front of the computer a lot. I thought of people with office jobs and long commutes, yeah it's fair to say that lots of people are addicted to their tension.

Oh wait - she meant beyond the physical body...

As she kept talking I realized that I am quite addicted to tension in my life.

Pay the bill at the last minute? tension
Start studying the night before the exam? tension
Minimally planned travel? tension
Leave thing unsaid in a relationship? tension

I may not have much muscle tension, but I have tons of emotional tension.

Tension between the known and the unknown, between desires and fears.

Not all bad of course; some tension in life is what keeps it exciting and as a lover of adventure, I cherish that.

What Seane's workshop made me realize though, is that I have to own that tension because much of it I choose for myself, and if I realize that it's not serving me, I can choose to let go of it.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


It's been really nice to settle into Kripalu.

Beginning March of this year, I've packed and unpacked my bags a ridiculous number of times:

Starting with packing up all my stuff in Chiang Mai, then staying in about 15 different places while traveling Bali, Malaysia & Southern Thailand, then living out of my suitcase back in Chiang Mai for a few weeks, lugging everything back to Florida, visiting Gainesville, packing for Canada while unsure whether I would be following that with a stay at Kripalu, visiting Padg in Toronto, going to Guelph, up to Muskoka, right back to Guelph again, a couple trips to Ottawa... in sum, I haven't felt able to unpack literally or metahporically for a while.

Almost immediately upon arriving at Kripalu though, I felt at home. I unpacked all my possessions the first night, and have since been unpacking emotionally.

I had planned to stay at Kripalu for the minimum 4 months, but have since decided to stay for at least another 4 (till May). The program here is one of deep self-inquiry and personal growth and in order to really "unpack" some of the issues I'd like to delve into, I need to know I'll be here for a while.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Apple Cider & Pumpkin Pie

If you've been reading since I started blogging, you might remember how much I missed Fall last year (to the slightly desperate degree of downloading desktop wallpaper pictures from google...)

But this year is completely making up for it. Yeah, Fall in New England is pretty incredible.

I've been hiking around the property, smelling that decomposing-leafy smell and stopping ridiculously often to bend down and say "This one! This one is so beautiful!"

I've been having fun getting crafty too

and every weekend Kripalu gets a big delivery of fresh apple cider... and the new fall menu is replete with squash and pumpkin and apple and parsnip dishes including butternut squash lasagna - amazing (totally worth the post-consumption gluten/dairy stomachache).

I'm making the most of it while it lasts, because whispers of winter are already in the air...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Living at a Yoga Retreat Center

So it turns out that Kripalu is kind of a big deal.

Last week CBS came and filmed a yoga class I was in for a piece they did on contemporary American spirituality (funny to see yourself on TV...)

The week before, superstar self-help author Byron Katie was here lecturing and before that, Deepak Chopra packed in about 600 people.

The other day, I was in the sauna with Shiva Rea (pretty famous yoga teacher).

While I'm not really one to get starstruck, it is kind of cool having some of the big names around because they often open up their programs to staff & volunteers. I've already become a bit spoiled:

Hmm, should I go to Shiva Rea's Trance Dance class or just walk under the full moon? (I opted for moon...)

There is definitely a downside to having celebrities in the house though, and not just that I have to cut twice as many vegetables. When a famous person is doing a program here, that person draws groupies - lots of them.

So for that weekend, my home is overrun.

It feels kind of like on the holidays when all your relatives come over and you don't know everyone that well, but you have to be polite and the house is a little too full and all you want to do is go about your business. ("I live here, okay?!")

But really? who am I to complain? I get to live where people come for retreat.

The entire energy of this place is dedicated to feeling good.

Sure, I work, but really not that much, and veggie prep is actually quite fun.

Hmm, this yoga class looks a little full, I guess I'll just go down to the whirlpool...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Getting a Feel for Kripalu

To give you an idea of the kind of place Kripalu is, let me describe the "All Staff Meeting" I attended yesterday:

As I mentioned before, Kripalu is kind of like a giant beached yogic cruise ship, and so a meeting with all the staff involved around 200 people. From kitchen, to registration, to front desk, to marketing, household, finance, etc... it's technically a non-profit, but the meeting felt quite corporate as the CEO displayed a powerpoint with a financial slide showing revenues of $27 million and "guest nights" of almost 90,000.

What made it Kripalu though was that all this started with a centering meditation and an "OM"

Totally awesome.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Contacting Ali at Kripalu

I don't currently have a phone (it's actually really nice not have one), but you can call me and leave a message on my skype number:


If I happen to be on skype at the time, I will answer, otherwise just leave a message and I'll call you back.

Also, if you feel like sending some snail mail (have I mentioned how much I love handwritten letters?) my address is:

Alison Mills
Kripalu Center c/o PATH
PO Box 309
57 Interlaken Rd.
Stockbridge, MA

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Kripalu Volunteer Program

The Gist:

I am currently living in Western Massachusetts at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. I am part of a 4-month live-in volunteer program in yoga and self-inquiry. I work 35 hours/week in exchange for room, food, yoga, workshops, and a few other perks.

I love it and am so happy right now.

A Little More:

*Kripalu Center:

Kripalu used to be an ashram and is now a non-profit education yoga center (the largest in North America). It has a "Retreat & Renewal" program that includes yoga classes and other workshops taught by Kripalu faculty. The center also hosts outside presenters who lead weekend or week-long workshops in yoga, health, self-development, outdoor activities, creativity and lots more.

It is located in the Berkshire Hills (close to the border of New York) and the surroundings are really beautiful. Lots of hiking trails that I am loving.

(The main building is like a beached cruise ship - it's gigantic - 4 acres of floor space!)

*The Volunteer Program:

A crew of 60 volunteers helps to run Kripalu and we work for 4 months at a time. In addition to living and working at the center, volunteers take part in weekly classes in yoga philosophy and pyschology, peer mentoring groups, and are free to attend any yoga classes, other workshops or events (see perks below) when they're not working.

A big part of the program is simply living in community and being part of each other's lives. I live in a room with two other women in a big building with lots of other people. A lot of emotional, personal things come up while in the program and there is a lot of space held and support provided for doing personal work and self-exploration.

The people here are wonderful.

*My Seva:

The program is considered karma yoga: the yoga of action, and a big part of this is our work. Our "seva" is our selfless service to the community and mine is veggie prep and I LOVE IT.

We prepare all the vegetables for the kitchen, which means we chop veggies for 7 hours/day.

We work in the basement kitchen and we have a great time. We listen to music and chat and dance and sing and haul around giant boxes of kale and sweet potatotes and carrots, cutting and washing and putting all our love into the food.

We feed 200-600 people 3 meals every day and so the quantities are incredible. The other day I chopped 98 gallons of kale. It took me ALL DAY.

Because it's such a big kitchen, we have all sort of fun machines to help with the big quantities, like a Robot Coupe and a Halde (big chopper-dicers) and a fancy big scrubber (we drop in big bins of carrots or beets and it spins them around with big rolling brushes and water - way cool). Another thing I think it just great fun is that we get to power wash the floors at the end of the day. I mean, when do you get to dump soapy water on the floor, spray it with a giant hose and then squeegee it? Okay, I'm sure the novelty will wear off eventually, but right now I'm having so much fun with it.

*The Food:

Kripalu has AMAZING food. If you know me, you know what an important factor that is in my satisfaction with the place. It's really healthy, mostly vegetarian, lots of gluten-free stuff (even decent gluten-free bread!) and most of it is organic and local. It's beautiful and fantastic.

*Perks of the Program:

I am really impressed with how awesome they make it to be a volunteer. In addition to yoga and other workshops, there are nightly events like concerts, drum circles, kirtan (traditional Indian devotional chanting), speakers, and movies.

There is also a whirlpool and sauna we have free access to, we get discounts on massages and other healing arts, several free guest passes for friends and family, and two free programs (weekend workshops by outside presenters, normally $200-$400).

a) if you are in the area, come by; I can get you in free!
b) I'm extremely happy here and know I'm in the right place in my life right now