Kripalu Guest Stories: Lara Tupper
When I first came to Kripalu, I had been living in New York City and was very career focused: I’d published a book and was working on my teaching career. I was reaching a point of burnout, totally caught up in the competition of New York. My coping strategy was to distract myself, rather than get at the root of the problem. I was ready for a change.
I had walked by a particular yoga studio for years. One day I showed up and tried it, and I was hooked. I had been trained as a dancer, but this was a kind of movement based on the individual, not the group. I loved that I didn’t have to look just like the person standing beside me. Then a writer friend told me about Kripalu. I’d never heard of it but it looked like a beautiful place—I decided to give it a try.
When I came to Kripalu I didn’t know what to expect. I thought I’d find a lot of people with really great yoga outfits. But here it’s more about what your body is feeling instead of what your body looks like. After that first visit, I came to Kripalu three more times in the space of nine months. During one of those visits I heard about the volunteer program. I thought it would fit into my teaching schedule; I could volunteer for the summer.
I enjoy my seva (service work). I work seven hours a day as a volunteer with Production—we set up rooms for presenters and then we break them down. It’s a busy schedule. Because I used to spend so much time in front of a computer, I find I enjoy being around guests and running around the building.
At Kripalu, I’ve learned things that I didn’t find in my yoga classes in New York. I’ve been able to discover the eight limbs of yoga here. There is a willingness, among guests and volunteers, to learn much more about the self—even the shadow self, the parts we tend to ignore or avoid. I’m grateful for the opportunity to know myself better at Kripalu, and in knowing to become more empowered.
The volunteers all contribute to what we call “the flow,” activities we can share with each other, like salsa and belly dancing. I’ve just started teaching a creative writing class. It’s nice to bring an experience from our lives outside Kripalu and thread it into our experience here. In the end, I’m able to be a more authentic writer now, and I am so grateful to Kripalu for giving me that space.
—Lara Tupper, author, Kripalu volunteer