Kripalu Guest Stories: Laura McHale
After 9/11, Kripalu offered anyone who was adversely affected by the events a scholarship to come for a weekend in the Retreat and Renewal program (R&R). It was the first time I’d left Manhattan since the attacks. It was a shocking sight to see the city without the towers. I took the bus to Kripalu on Friday and stayed until Sunday.
Being able to get out of the city and feel physically safe was wonderful. I stayed on the fourth floor with a lake view. The simple accommodations were very comforting for me.
Kripalu was absolutely magical and provided a sense of refuge and safety on virtually every level. I was soothed by the gentle yoga classes and introduced to the idea of using my body as a spiritual expression. I was a smoker at the time, and I never even thought about smoking when I was at Kripalu.
The R&R was total freedom. I loved that you can be as active and inactive as you want. I’d go to breakfast, have a nap, and then have another nap after lunch. I hiked, went to the lake, and strolled around the extraordinary grounds. I fell in love with the labyrinth and have established that as a meditative tradition for myself whenever I visit Kripalu.
For the last three years, I’ve spent Christmas at Kripalu, which allows me to get away from the chaos of the season and recharge my batteries. It’s incredibly quiet and relaxing, and everyone is so kind. I’ve taken chanting workshops, YogaDance classes, and yoga classes. The R&R faculty are great. I love Aruni and her humor and wisdom. Megha helped me make friends with the Warrior pose, which has been challenging for me in the past.
Kripalu has transformed my approach to exercise, making it a gentler, more meditative experience. It’s also changed the way I approach food. I discovered that dieting and punishing myself, withholding foods I loved, didn’t resonate with me. I took a conscious eating workshop that was valuable to me. Sitting alone at silent breakfast or meditating right before a meal has increased my reverence for food. I feel a new sense of authenticity after being at Kripalu, and I can relax in a whole new way now.
—Laura McHale, corporate communications executive, Brooklyn, New York (Kripalu donor)