I came to Kripalu for the Kundalini Yoga and Expressive Arts weekend with my New York City–based hip-hop and spoken-word group, ReadNex Poetry Squad. We were all in serious need of a rest. In 2010, our group did more than 200 shows, performances, and workshops, spending nine months of the year on the road. To put it bluntly, we were beat.
Much of our work is done with at-risk urban youth: We travel to schools and teach kids about youth empowerment. We introduce them to the concept of using performance art as a form of personal expression. But as rewarding as community work is, it can also become physically and emotionally exhausting if you don’t give yourself a chance to rest.
I got the idea to bring the ReadNex Poetry Squad to Kripalu after my fiancée visited a few times for spiritual retreats. After each visit, she came home regenerated and rejuvenated. That’s what we needed, I thought. For us to be able to continue giving back to the community, we had to take time to focus on our own spiritual development.
We were lucky to receive a diversity scholarship from Kripalu to attend the program; without it there is no way we would have been able to make the trip. And the Kundalini program was perfect for our group. We spent the mornings doing yoga. After lunch, we did a range of expressive arts, like painting or guided meditative dance. At night, we did another yoga session. A number of people in our group had never done yoga before but found the instruction easy to follow while still feeling challenged.
The program offered us a special opportunity to reverse roles: The type of activities we had been doing with the youth, we now got to experience firsthand. Whether it was dancing, singing, writing, or painting, we got to dig deep and express our feelings in a safe space.
The environment at Kripalu is unique. We were surrounded by people who had come together for the same purpose: to seek a meditative space where we could relax and slow down. Everyone in my group felt at ease and comfortable. Perhaps most importantly, the trip served as a powerful reminder that as much as we are invested in helping and changing the community, we must look inward, too.
—Decora S., New York, New York
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