Tales From a Rookie Visit


Nancy Chabot is not a yogi.  Not so much.  In terms of her “thing”, running most accurately defines this suburban mother of two.  With a Boston Marathon and countless Falmouth and other road races under her belt, she sports her 26.2 with pride.  Yet this past late January in the midst of some professional crossroads and with the days short and the temperatures low, she found herself going where she had not so much tread before…  Lenox, MA.  More specifically Kripalu, the beloved holistic health center quietly nestled in the Berkshire Mountains, well west of her Boston home.  Intrigued by its rich course offerings and pastoral setting, she enrolled in Unleash Your Calling thinking a Kripalu weekend might be just the ticket to reset the compass, particularly as her chapter would soon be turning from one decade to the next.  Not a total yoga immersion, but still no running shoes required.

So what happens when one throws caution to the wind in a quest to “create the work and life you love” as the workshop promised?  Particularly when the “one” is a jovial conversant most at ease in the company of others…  lots of others?  What is the scoop from the front lines, of a rookie – not 100% on this yoga bandwagon?  Here’s a glimpse…

Unpack for us your relationship with yoga?

Although I know firsthand the cumulative impact that my years of distance running have had on my body, I am not as faithful to yoga as I know I should be. I love classes that leave me calm, strong and my muscles stretched.

How familiar were you with Kripalu before committing to Harvard trained attorney Tama Kieve’s workshop?

I had heard of Kripalu from friends and thought of it as a minimalist version of Canyon Ranch.

Why now?  What were your intentions for the weekend?

In the fall of last year I started working with a professional coach to help me determine what to do as I reenter the work force. One excercise she asked me to do in between sessions was to visit the Kripalu website and write down all the retreats that caught my eye. We reviewed the list at the next session, and I registered after that. I knew that if I decided to not attend the workshop I was only going to lose the registration fee. I wanted to leave the weekend with ideas about what to do as a new career and how to start.  

Dorm or Single?

I registered for a single and loved my room. I was in the new (annex) building and had a view of the mountains. When I first arrived I could hear other guests in the stairwell next to my room, but that was the only time I could hear anyone. I had a glass wall between the shower and the bedoroom and could see the mountains from the bathroom. It was all very calming. There was no clock or television in my room. My mistake was bringing my cell phone with me and leaving it on. I face-timed with my daughter and showed her the space and felt as if my family was on the trip with me.


First impressions?

I arrived right at check in time (2:15 PM), and the registration area was a little busy. It was very efficient and more corporate than I was expecting. I also wasn’t expecting how large the whole area is. I liked my room and was excited to start the program.

In as much depth as you care to describe, share with us what a day looks like from breakfast to lights out?  And, best part of the day?

I had packed my yoga mat and each day did some stretching in the room upon waking up. I was a little nervous about the silent breakfast, but I actually enjoyed it. After breakfast I had time to pick up my paperwork for the retreat and head to the room where we would work for about three hours. Before each session I would use the water fountain where you would refill a reusable bottle and the number of plastic bottles that had not been used would increase by one.  I thought this was a great marketing idea!
Then, there was a break for lunch and any yoga classes in the middle of the day. During this open time on Saturday I booked a massage. It was amazing and I wished I had registered earlier so I could have had a longer session. The afternoon portion of the retreat was about three hours again, and at night you had a choice to hear another speaker or attend a concert. I attended another speaker and left after about ninety minutes. I read in bed and fell asleep. At one point a piece of paper fell from my bed to the floor, and I was startled because it was so silent at night I could hear the paper float through the air and hit the floor. 


Did you elect to take your meals in silence?

Breakfast was the only meal they offered to everyone as silent. I didn’t take advantage of the “silent eating room”.

What one culinary creation of Chef Jeremy Rock Smith are you still dreaming about?

At breakfast there was a vanilla yogurt the first day that was offered with granola and fresh fruit. It was delicious. I wish that was an option at lunch!  Dinner the first evening was also a favorite; amazing vegetables and rice with a tasty white fish.

Three things essential suitcase ingredients?

  1. Comfy yoga clothes  – enough to wear every day.
  2. A scarf to keep warm in the breakout sessions.
  3. A great book for your free time.
  4. Can I add a fourth? I’d like to add chocoate…

Looking back, what struck you most about your weekend at Kripalu?

I loved meeting people from all over who were excited to improve themselves. I loved the silent breakfasts. I enjoyed having my room to myself and the view was amazing.

Are you seeing things differently having made the pilgrimage?

I have planned a weeklong trip to Ireland with two girlfriends in May.  After our four day self-guided hiking tour, one girlfriend will be off to visit her sister who lives north of Dublin. I’ve decided I would like to be on my own for a couple days too; just to do something I haven’t tried before.  Maybe checking into a bed and breakfast and deciding alone how to spend my day.  On my way home I spoke with my sister Sam and talked about the exercises we had done and what ideas about re-entering the workforce I had discovered. Through our conversation, I decided to pursue personal histories. I love to meet people and hear about who they are. There is a great need for people to preserve their elder relatives histories. I want to interview people and record their voices and their stories for their loved ones.

Nancy Chabot (at left) with her “partner in crime”, sister Sam at the finish of one of their many races.

Any parting thoughts?

I am not sure I’ll attend another program specifically at Kripalu, but I do think it’s important for all of us to find time to be alone and think. If you can visit a place as serene as Kripalu and also use that time to rediscover yourself…  all the better.

One last thing…  Did you practice any yoga?

As I said, I did bring my yoga mat and practiced in my room both at morning and at night. I was looking for a smaller class of yoga while I was there, but the classes are very large unless you book ahead of time for a private yoga session. In our retreat, each time we met again after a break, we were lead through a meditation by our guide.  I found that exercise helped the group bring themselves back to the moment. Upon leaving I purchased some of Tama’s meditations..  for the next year I will have one in my email box every morning!


Unleash You Calling with Tama Kieves

Interview compiled by Susan Currie.