Tag: <span>kripalu</span>

There are many ways to practice yoga.   Seva, is one.

In 1997 I became a volunteer at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Lenox, MA.  I was offered room & board in return for my service.   Mostly,  I worked as a Faculty Assistant.  Other times I was on the  production team for the larger weekend conferences.  Eventually,  I became attached to the Inner Quest Intensive (IQI), Kripalu’s signature self-discovery program. For 10+ years  I led the Kripalu hatha yoga practice  and served as a Facilitator with this life-changing program.

Then in 2008 Kripalu’s governing body decided that faculty volunteers like myself were no longer needed and they began to remove us from the program rooms. It was a significant change for those who remember, and my time at Kripalu was greatly reduced.  The few of us who were attached to specific master teachers/programs were allowed to continue and  I was grateful. The IQI was offered three times a year and that would have to be enough seva at Kripalu.

In 2015,  Kripalu cancelled the IQI and soon thereafter cancelled all other remaining volunteer opportunities.  This decision  signaled a significant course correction for Kripalu Center.

Aside from the yoga experience, knowledge, practice and karma points I gained over 15 years of service at Kripalu, what was so unexpectedly rewarding was the experience of living together with others on the same path, to be a part of a spiritual community where like-mind and like-spirit came together.

So, last December, when the days were short and the nights were long I responded to a call for volunteers at the Amrit Yoga Institute in Florida.  In early March a call came and I have been invited to practice Seva there during the first weeks of May!

For those in the know, AYI was established by Amrit Desai, the guru who introduced Kripalu Yoga to the USA.  This means that the practices, philosophy, and methodologies will be consistent with everything I have learned thus far and for that I am grateful, and so excited, and terrified too.  And, he will be on the campus during my stay.

Florida is  not as easy as driving to the Berkshires, and this pitta person hates hot weather, but I am  honored and grateful to be invited to this campus  to experience Gurudev’s wisdom for myself.

Jai Bhagwan.  Namaste.  Om shanti.

to be continued.




Blogging Dharma Yoga Yoga Therapy

harpatkripaluJULY 2007, KRIPALU CENTER FOR YOGA & HEALTH, Lenox, MA
I was sitting in the back left corner where they stored the blankets and backjacks.  Its the spiritual-gua in ‘feng-shui-speak’, of the Main Chapel and I was self-soothing with my harp, Angelina.  It was a safe spot where I knew I could recover from the day’s stress.   I had gotten reamed out by a 6’2” incredibly handsome Native American Indian chief for playing with his eagle feathers.  Who knew?!  “Don’t touch!” he screamed at me just after I had picked up a heavily decorated bundle of them.  My hands just can’t resist touching sometimes.

Just being in this space was soothing, but being here at Kripalu with “Angelina” was really special.  I’d had many different experiences with her here, and I can certainly attest to the commonly held belief that harps are magical.   To be at Kripalu with my harp is a union of magic & spirit that keeps me coming back to this place, still.

The chapel was being set up for the weekend finale and all was a buzz with joyful, anticipatory energy.  Volunteers were setting up back jacks, audio people were untangling wires, musicians were tuning, someone was playing with the lights, and I was just plum excited to be a part of it all. I had been part of the geek squad doing A/V for years.  I longed to be part of the musicians group.   Later that day, over 400 people would crowd into this sacred space together for the highlighted concert featuring spiritual music from many different world traditions.  And of course that would include the bhakti yogi community which includes the chanters, musicians, dancers, and various others.  Not everyone who practices yoga practices asana.

I was one of the unpaid volunteers that happily did whatever was asked of me and thus I was assigned to the group of pow wow drummers which is how I came to be with the Indian Chief.  It was my responsibility to attend their workshop and satisfy their needs as a representative of Kripalu.
Well, I learned that one does not touch an Indian Chief’s Eagle feathers.  It really upsets them.

So, I’m on the floor strumming my strings and soothing my rattled ego, when a tall, thin, young, African-American man came up to me and introduced himself as Akim Funk Buddah.     He was in the chapel doing a sound check for his performance later that day.  All the other performers were using live music with live musicians.  He, on the other hand, was using only recorded music but wanted to include some live music too, but how?  It was literally the ‘11th hour’ and he only had himself, it was much too late to call in any of his musician friends.

“Hey!  Would you play your harp during my performance? ” he asked.    I had no idea what his performance was, I’d never heard of him before, but, I thought, ” I’ve loved everything that I’ve heard here at Kripalu so how bad could it be?”.  Of course, all the ‘I’m not good enough’ thoughts crowded into my mind too.  Those thoughts were really, really loud!  But, I reminded myself, again, ” I’m at Kripalu and nothing here can harm me and I’ve been sitting in the spiritual corner?  It’ll be ok.”    Faith & I were friends at Kripalu.

So, I leaped at the opportunity!  Have harp, will share…..you know?   I explained that I wasn’t exactly a pro but I would do what I could.  He only had 10 minutes to rehearse with me, and that was it.  Up until that point every performer and workshop leader had offered music that induced a spiritual trance state.  There were sitars, harmoniums, drums, gongs, bowls, and shakers of every kind.  So when Akim put on his recorded music, which I hadn’t heard before I impulsively agreed to play, and performed his ‘act’,  I went into a complete panic!  Yipes!  It was Rap to some electronic beat rhythm!  “That’s not music,” my judging mind shouted at me.  I revolted and rebelled and reminded myself of how much I resist that genre of music.

me_harp_kripaluSo, how do I play the harp with this?   Not a clue.  My higher self said “just play, do your dharma, let go of outcome, dedicate  it to the well-being of all, see what happens.”  But still, there was no melody to get in tune with, nor were there chord progressions, or harmonies, or opportunities for arpeggios to embellish and add to his performance.    Harp & Rap?

I played.

They cheered.

And later I heard from many how absolutely mesmerizing it was to hear/feel those harpstrings weave in and out and all around the heavy electronic beat of this rappers rap.   No one had ever heard anything like it.

Nor will they again, because some things only happen once which is why it’s so important to experience the present moment, all the time.

Someone took my picture during that performance.  Photo’s & recording devices were not allowed in the main chapel back then and  I personally prefer it that way, but, I am so grateful to have this photo to remind me that yoga means union, and there’s only one musician here.


Om Shanti.

©All rights reserved. Ida Cullen, 2016

Gratitude to Kripalu CenterJennifer Reis Shaun Laframboise for that weekend’s experience.  May you continue to be blessed by our lineage.

swami kripalu….where I do volunteer work at least three times a year.  This trip I worked as a facilitator and hatha yoga teacher.  The program was called the Inner Quest Intensive and I have been a part of this amazing ‘production’ since ’99.  Here’s a post I wrote after another such trip about 5 years ago.

The world really needs this program.  Those of us who facilitate transformation and healing for others know this.   I am completely filled with love, gratitude, and kindness once again as I continue to live and teach yoga.

This time I came home inspired to develop and deliver an experiential program with transformational possibilities of my own.  My plan is to use the natal chart as a launchpad.  We’ll address all the planets of our solar system with the intention of  expanding our self-awareness and self-knowledge. Interested ?  Contact me at idafae@gmail.com.

Buddhism consciousness journal entry Kripalu Meditation Yoga

What happens when you integrate astrology into the yogic practice of self-observation without judgement?

Self-inquiry is a spiritual practice that directs our energy and our attention inward. It’s a particular form of self-discovery that encourages one to first recognize and then drop the social mask (also known as the persona, personality, or ascendant) and practice authenticity in every moment. (rather than productivity or some other external goal). In, The Path with Heart by Jack Kornfield, he describes a Buddhist practice of sitting quietly and repeatedly path with heartasking yourself, “Who am I”, over and over until you reach a point where something in the body/mind relaxes (?) and a subtle shift in consciousness happens. It’s one of those things that you have to experience for yourself and hard to describe.

Svadhyaya is one of the niyamas (from Patanjali’s 8 Limbs of Yoga) that encourages us to look at ourselves, clearly, without prejudice. It’s a challenging task and requires constant practice. Kripalu Yoga is the methodology that i practice. It brings the physical and energetic bodies into the mix by developing a heightened sense of awareness to sensations, breath, thought patterns, and spontaneous emotional expression.

man-astrologyAstrology attempts to find meaning in the natural order of the cosmos. Everything has it’s own time, it’s own season, and every minute that passes is unique. Astrologers observe both long term & short term trends and relate that information to the present moment. In addition, astrology also adds mythological, archetypal, & psychological dimensions that are extremely personal and relevant.

Natal Astrology looks at an individual (or oneself) thru a lens that has no prejudice. The natal horoscope does not see: gender, race, religion, economic status, socio/cultural differences, sexual orientation, political affiliation or any of the ways in which we categorize ourselves. What the natal chart does describe is our ‘energetic’ makeup and the timing of unfoldment. The ‘how’ is up to us. There are many ways to manifest the potential of our horoscope. It’s the energy pattern and the timing that are pre-determined. All else is free will. When approached with equanimity and non-judgement the natal horoscope becomes an impartial map of possibility with a built-in clock to help one connect to the present moment more intimately.

Yoga & Astrology have co-existed harmoniously in various cultures for eons.yantra cropped Each discipline recognizes the value & contribution of the other. Across the centuries, astrologers have continued to relate the movement of what is above to the movement of what lies below. Whereas, at the same time the yogi’s were discovering what lies without, also exists within. They both agree that here & now is important.

Yoga provides us with the tools to help us be with that moment in peaceful co-existence. Astrology helps us to understand the characteristics of the our particular ego-state and the nature of the obstacles that impede our path towards a higher consciousness. Yoga helps us to smooth out the obstacles, minimize the ego drives and approach life’s challenges in peace. Astrology provides us with the nature of the ever-changing present moment. Yoga practices train us to respond to the ever-changing moment with acceptance. Astrology, when properly understood, can advance us towards spiritual awakening. Yoga does the same.

As a Professional Kripalu Yoga Teacher & Astrologer it’s taken me most of my life to bring these two paths together in a way that goes beyond the mental field or intellect. After 30+ years of study and practice I have now reached a point where I can no longer keep them separate. My personal practice and the programs I offer always include the cosmic point of view in an attempt to teach the hermetic principal, As Above, So Below. For those who are ready for the practice of self-inquiry and seek to approach life multi-dimensionally, astrology & yoga together can be quite enlightening.

Om shanti, shanti, shantihi.

Astrology Buddhism consciousness Dharma Karma Kripalu Meditation philosophy Teachers Yoga Yoga Therapy


Sap is flowing once again from root to trunk,

from trunk to branch,

to every leaf

and bud

and blossom

on the tree.

The frozen days are past.

Now is the season of flowering,

when the full force of energy moves up

and up

to manifest its destiny.

It is everything to me,

this new life springing forth

from ash and compost,

this chance to nurture,


and prune,

to patiently receive the miracle that blooms

as if no force on earth

can turn aside its beauty.

Danna Faulds (From Root to Bloom, Yoga Poems and Other Writings) Published with permission.

ps……….I’ve been in the garden for days now and nature has rewarded me with a bloom on my clematis vine. Finally!!!

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