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June/July 2003
A Nearby Oasis
By Margaret Hundley Parker


The Kripalu Center is the largest center for yoga and holistic health in the U.S. Years ago, it was an ashram based on the teachings of Swami Kripalu. The people of Kripalu used to be a small, dedicated group who wore white robes and practiced celibacy. Today, Kripalu is a mixture of people from the ashram days, volunteers and paid personnel, as well as the thousands of guests who come each year.

There’s no coffee, meat, smoking, alcohol or drugs, wearing of tight or revealing clothes, cell phones (not even in your room), locks on any doors, fragrances, or booty love (unless you come with your mate and you’re very discreet). You eat breakfast in silence. Of course there’s no TV or phones in the rooms. Without any distractions, it’s the kind of place you have to be ready for. It isn’t for everyone, but what I went to find out was—is it for me?

So one Friday morning, I went to Port Authority to catch the bus to Lenox, Massachusetts (about $65 round-trip; roughly 3.5 hours each way). Teeming with people during morning rush hour, Port Authority bus terminal was the exact opposite of where I was headed. Purple banners hanging from the ceiling advertised a prescription anti-depressant—this is how we’re encouraged to deal with being overworked or depressed. Just pop a pill.

I was relieved to get out of that world for awhile and enjoy lots of Kripalu yoga. Far from being power yoga, Kripalu is more of an introspective, moving meditation. The best thing about Kripalu yoga is that you adapt each pose for your particular body. I’ve taken many yoga classes, but I finally realized something on this trip. Each time you practice yoga is perfect unto itself—it’s not a warm-up to when you get really good. To live in the moment means to accept where you are now. I’ve heard that a million times but it finally sunk in—however you do the asana or pose is perfect (though that’s not to say the instructors won’t help you get into a posture if you look like you need it).

On Saturday I attended a DansKinetics class with live drummers. The instructor offered guidance in the form of yoga and dance moves, but she told us to do whatever felt good. In my class there was an older woman who did a slow, mellow dance and a spry young girl doing handsprings.
Along with the daily yoga and fitness classes, a variety of retreat packages, classes and workshops are offered for additional charges. Here’s a taste of what’s offered: a weekend workshop to “Transform Stress”; a guided “Raw Juice Fast” for three to seven days; and meditation retreats for three to five days. Advanced yoga and meditation intensives are available, and teacher training and certification programs are offered regularly as well.

It would be easy to shuffle from class to class and never go outside to enjoy the natural landscape, but that would be a shame. One afternoon I walked down to Lake Mahkeenac, where in the summer you can swim, play Frisbee, or do yoga on the lawn. I wandered around just a tiny section of the 300 acres of forests and meadows that surround Kripalu.

All the meals were buffet-style, all you care to eat. The food was excellent—all vegetarian with many vegan options. There’s no dessert at meals except on Saturday nights. You can always purchase snacks at the café and I fell in love with their homemade chocolate chip cookies. (Busted!) For breakfast there were lots of cereal choices, oatmeal, veggies, miso and brown rice. One lunchtime I ate a delicious build-your-own tempeh burrito and a highlight at dinner was a delicate gazpacho.

The Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health is located on Rt. 183 (across from Tanglewood) in Lenox, Massachusetts. Visitors may stay overnight in their dormitory, formerly a Jesuit seminary. Overnight prices begin at $122 per person per night in a shared room, with a two-night minimum stay required. Rates include room, meals, full use of facilities and access to daily yoga and other classes. Tuition for special classes and workshops are additional, as are appointments for Ayurvedic healing services, which include herbal treatments, massage and aromatherapy (ranging from $75 to $125). For reservations, course descriptions, directions and other details, call (800) 741-7353 or (413) 448-3400; or visit

After my weekend here, I felt so happy and calm inside. I wanted to hang onto that feeling and not get sucked into the stressed-out world that the purple banners at Port Authority offer to cure with a pill. I wanted to keep the quietness that I created in myself while I was at Kripalu. So is it for me? Yes. I’ll be back for sure.

Margaret Hundley Parker
is a writer who lives in Brooklyn.


Teja Creation

Victoria Raisky says that rather than a constant struggle, life is about allowing in as much joy as possible; and this is the vision behind Teja Creation, her vehicle to help others realize this seemingly simple task. Based in New York, Victoria created her Beauty Healing Therapy service to help people who need relief from any of the various forms of stress that we may not even realize are affecting our mind and our body, and the relationship between them. There’s something invaluable about receiving a treatment from someone who views relaxation as a top priority in life. How can you fully enjoy anything good—or be prepared for anything bad—that comes your way, if you’re not at ease?

I had the great privilege of experiencing Emotional Release Therapy, a treatment of 30 minutes of gentle hand manipulation combined with 30 minutes of deep energy balancing work, and I left feeling like an entirely new me. It’s not a deep tissue massage and won’t fully penetrate the physical strain or aches in your muscles if that’s what you are after. But it will ease the subtle tensions that more easily go overlooked and unattended to; and it will allow you to reconnect your mind with your body, so that you feel relaxed—physically and mentally—in a way you are conscious of but not in the overwhelming sense where you roll off the table feeling like Jello. Her healing hands will soothe your muscles and her guided meditation will transform your state of constant mental alertness to one of escape and relaxation.

Teja Creation offers a small selection of treatments, each one aimed to help you care for and get in touch with yourself, your inner sense of peace. All services include a guided meditation (skeptics should give it a try—enable the mind to take part in the physical relaxation the body is allowed to feel) with options such as: Emotional Release Therapy; Energy Balancing for Partners; Garden Fantasia, a variety of facial treatments combined with hand and foot massages; Fruit and Nut Exfoliation, to polish your body; and Cucumber Delight, a body masque with energy balancing and lotion application afterward, recommended for damaged, irritated, or sun-burnt skin.

The rates are fixed—and somewhat pricey ($125 for a body treatment session; $95 for a facial)—but well worth it, if you can fork over the cash. If you truly can’t, however, Victoria will make exceptions when she can. A rare gem—she is in the therapy business for what it should be: healing. As she said to me upon meeting her, how can she deny someone who needs her help? And that sense of caring truly comes through in her hour-long (give or take) session, a journey to a dream-like place that isn’t quite sleep, but more certainly isn’t just rest.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, contact Victoria Raisky at (347) 526-2739 or —R.C.

Putting The Body Front and Center!

On the bustling route between Union Square and New York University, Body Central is a refuge from the stressed-out, stony-faced students scurrying to and from school. With its blond wood floors, muted colors, simple Zen-influenced décor, and slightly fragrant air, visitors are immediately immersed in an atmosphere of relaxation. This center is all about stress relief. Indeed, it’s a challenge to hold on to stress in a place like this. And why would you?

Dr. Jo Ann Weinrib, founder and director of New York’s Body Central, warmly greeted me with, “I’d say I’m the embodiment of your magazine.” A doctor of chiropractic medicine, Dr. Weinrib has studied extensively in both Japan and India. In Body Central, she has realized her vision of blending the best of eastern and western healing practices into a comprehensive treatment for well-being, incorporating chiropractic, sports medicine, sinus/allergy and craniosacral therapies, a variety of massage therapies, aromatherapy, nutritional counseling, personalized fitness, pilates and more. With such a variety of options, visitors can pop in for a Swedish massage or facial; or choose more in-depth care and see Dr. Weinrib.

Jo Ann Weinrib firmly believes in personalized one-on-one care. Her clients fill out a full medical history, which she goes over with a fine-tooth comb—attention I didn’t quite expect—to determine specific needs and the best treatment for them. Although Weinrib’s treatments are clinical, Body Central’s stated aim is to make health and healing treatments feel like “spa indulgences.”
“Why are you here?” she asked. To research places providing exceptional relaxation treatments for stressed-out Satya readers, of course. “Yes. But why are you here?” Well, because I’m stressed out…naturally.

I’ve struggled with acute anxiety much of my life, which takes on different manifestations, mostly physical and primarily in my lower back. Lately, I’ve had jaw clenching too, which is what the session ultimately focused on.

First Dr. Weinrib had to make the muscles in my neck and shoulders relax, which she did using a gadget that sends ultrasound deep into the tissue. Next, she let me rest while heat coaxed the muscles along my spine to release. Later, her expert hands gently prodded the knots to unwind, some of which staunchly refused to cooperate. She used electric stimulation to fool the muscles into finally letting go. With everything released, she could then address the jaw.

Sinus/allergy relief and jaw release treatments are Dr. Weinrib’s specialty, using a combination of non-invasive therapies like chiropractic, heat, electric stimulation, gentle massage, ultrasound and aromatherapy. Wrapped in a comfy towel and moist heat pack, with the scent of lavender in the air, I could feel my jaw and head relaxing.

I rose from the massage table feeling very relaxed. On the return home, I floated through the stressed-out New Yorkers and barely noticed the screeching subway trains. Mission Accomplished.

Body Central is located at 99 University Place, 5th Floor (between 11th and 12th Streets). Sinus and jaw treatments are a bit pricey but well worth it: $120 for initial treatment and consultation, with follow-up visits at $75. Special discounts are offered to students—especially around exam time. Seasonal packages are also offered, like their summer “Stress, Be Gone!” tension-releasing massage (one hour; $75) or the “Cocktail Cure,” a detoxifying Swedish massage with a half-hour of foot reflexology and dry-brushing (90 minutes; $115). For information, call (212) 677-5633, email, or visit —C.C.

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