Spotlight On: Kripalu Yoga and Wellness Center

The main meeting space at Kripalu; site of healings, reiki, workshops, and of course yoga classes.
Several people from Better Farm (two betterArts residents, a sustainability intern, and I) yesterday took a field trip to Adams Center, N.Y., to visit two very special places: the Kripalu Yoga and Wellness Center, and Woodhenge Self-Reliance Campus (blog post on the latter to follow!).

Our first stop was at the Kripalu Yoga and Wellness Center, which was founded more than 30 years ago on the belief that all humanity is one family and that the Divine swells within each of us.  The center is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the integration of body, mind and spirit. Its members support this philosophy through the teaching and practice of yoga, health related programs, and services to nurture personal growth and community.



The sprawling property includes a main meeting house for workshops, yoga classes, healings, reiki, and more; a nature trail, stone circle, artwork, and sculpture, and labyrinth.

The center offers the following:

The centerpiece of the center (and highlight for us) is a 70-foot labyrinth installed more than a decade ago by board members and people in the community who volunteered their time and materials for the effort. The center's president, Nancy Pfeil, took time out of her day to show us around and join us on a stroll through the labyrinth and short hike on the property.

The Labyrinth
Nancy explained to us the history of labyrinths; that they're found in many cultures dating back as much as 3,500 years, and that unlike mazes, labyrinths are  unicursal, having a single path leading to the center with no loops, cul-de-sacs or forks. They all share the basic features of an entrance or mouth, a single circuitous path and a center or goal.

Here's Nancy showing us a finger labyrinth she made ages ago while traveling through the southwest with her husband (she made it out of yarn and nail polish atop a red rock!):

Many community organizations, churches and retreat centers are making labyrinth walks available for public use for prayer, meditation, contemplation or personal growth. The labyrinth walk is popular with a growing number of people  because of it simplicity and the ability to approach its paths on your own terms.

To walk a labyrinth (or run your finger over one) is a right-brain task. It involves intuition, creativity, and imagery. With a maze many choices must be made and an active mind is needed to solve the problem of finding the center. With a labyrinth there is only one choice to be made. The choice is to enter or not. A more passive, receptive mindset is needed. The choice is whether or not to walk a spiritual path.
At its most basic level, the labyrinth is a metaphor for the journey to the center of your deepest self and back out into the world with a broadened understanding of who you are. Labyrinths belong to the family of “Mandalas” (sanskrit for “circle that contain the Essence”). Many people believe that labyrinths guard, activate & amplify the spiritual energies of a place so that people who walk it can experience a feeling of grace, peace or holiness in their heart, soul & spirit.

There is not a "required way" to walk the labyrinth. The beauty of the labyrinth is that people can approach the experience on their own terms. One may enter playfully or purposefully (many people are finding labyrinths therapeutic for children with ADD, who relax by running through the labyrinth); others enjoy taking intentional walks in which they address a specific intention or issue. Many use labyrinths as intercessory walks to offer prayer for others in need, or meditative walks to concentrate on a specific word or passage. Here are some shots from our walk:




 After the labyrinth, we joined Nancy on a nature walk around the property:
Stone circle
Fire pit and chairs for drumming circles



Many thanks to Nancy for welcoming us so warmly!

Board members of the center include: Nancy M. Pfeil, president; Steve Williams, vice president; Sonya Farmer, secretary/treasurer; B.J. Mosher, labyrinth facilitator; Kim Ward, marketing support; April Williams, Lisa Smith, Donna Smith, Adrienne Rule, and Sueanne Hunter. The Kripalu Yoga and Wellness Center is located at 14029 Route 11, Adams Center, N.Y. For more information, visit www.kripaluyogaandwellnesscenter.org.
1 Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

A Place for all that Firewood

Now that we’ve covered outdoor fire pits, fancy fire pits, and bonfires at length, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty.

Where to store all that wood?

A lot of people keep kindling and logs in a heap any old place. But if you don’t tear through wood like we do, then you’re looking at inevitable insect infestation and rot from rainfall and puddles.

When we cleared out the basement a few weeks ago, we found dozens of logs leftover from the days when Better Farm’s heat ran off of a furnace that utilized wood for half its heating. After lugging the logs outside, we proceeded to have night after night of beautiful bonfires. Even some heavy rainfall wasn’t enough to mess with the nice big logs, as they were only outside in a pile for a few days. Some people are more patient than us, however; and would be wise to invest in a firewood rack.

A log rack will save you uncountable man hours over time by keeping you inside and toasty warm instead of outside having to chop wood to replace the wet, rotting logs you scattered willy-nilly on the lawn. Or, if you don’t chop your own wood, a sturdy and weatherproof rack will save you hundreds of dollars by protecting store-bought wood.

The structures don’t have to be eyesores, either. Setting up a nice firewood rack will de-clutter your property—and your brain. And who couldn't use a little of that?

Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Fire Pits Go Posh

Fire is no elitist. She will burn brightly in any container, whether it be a metal ring, circle of stones, or half-moon of cinder blocks. You can light a match and throw it into a pile of junk, a pyramid of kindling, or a slick of oil, all with the same result. Fire lights where she will, and takes no prisoners.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a sense of style.

I was recently tipped off to California Outdoor Concepts, an outdoor furniture and fire pit company based out of—you guessed it—Trustin, Calif. These guys hand-craft each high-end piece the company sells. But the coolest feature has got to be the interchangeable table centers. You can make your fire pit rise out of Glo-Fire gas logs, a stainless steel grill, or S/B Arctic Flame Glass. Or you can forget all that and throw an umbrella hole in the middle for hot days when you don’t need a fire. Or—get this—just insert the compatible ice bucket into the middle and start cutting up limes for your Tecates and Modelos.

California Outdoor Concepts also thought to include a counter-sized ring around them so you can lean your elbows on something while roasting ‘mallows or heating up some steamers.

Admittedly, the price tags are a little intimidating. Fire pits range from $1,000 to more than $5,000—significantly more than what we paid for our semi-circle of cement. But California Outdoor Concepts offers other guarantees, such as year-long warranties and rustproof materials. And you can also get away with hosting Gatsby-style backyard parties that will make you the envy of your suburban enclave.

If this all sounds like a touch too much, let these fancy flame enclosures be your muse. Free online instruction abounds on how to create your own miniature tabletop fire pit, full-size and decadent outdoor fire ring, or fancy-schmancy fire pit for your yard. There is no longer any excuse to keep that inner pyro hidden.
Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.