Way-out, left-field yogic hub.
This is North America's largest yoga retreat centre, and you couldn't ask for a more stunning spot. But before you get too excited, be warned: the main building and sprawling car park are reminiscent of university halls of residence, and the prevalence of notice boards rather than Buddha statues doesn't induce the usual atmosphere of a holistic haven. However, with its size (up to 650 guests at any one time) and stature comes a highly respected faculty of in-house and visiting yoga teachers, including Sarah Powers and Shiva Rea, along with a host of wellness experts who lead yoga and fitness retreats, teach reiki, promote mindfulness and even give workshops on 'How to talk to loved ones on the other side'.
Guests are a mixed bag: slick New Yorkers, dread-locked vegans, New Age energy healers, yoga newbies and pros - all eager for the chance to chant their hearts out with Krishna Das or simply succumb to a few days' downtime on the popular rest and relaxation program. Choose from shared dorms or private rooms; go for the pricier, but far nicer new annexe. Refreshingly modern, it was built as part of a £10-million project to improve the campus's energy efficiency and also makes for a more restful night's sleep away from the buzz of the main building.
Most people come for three or four nights (and some for weeks or even months). A typical day involves twice-daily yoga classes (choose between gentle, moderate or vigorous), a guided hike, experiential workshops and empowering life-coaching lectures - participate in as much or as little as you like. While nothing is compulsory, no trip is complete without shaking your thing at the daily noon-dance session. Follow the sound of the drum beat for an hour of uninhibited, surprisingly therapeutic freestyle dancing. It's hard not to join in, however embarrassed you might be. And having worked up a sweat and an appetite, make a beeline for lunch.
Food is natural, organic, wholesome and abundant (root roasts, pulses, miso soup). For guests on a serious health kick, there are also simple macrobiotic meals (low-sodium, low-fat, lots of grains and vegetables). Lunch and dinner are sociable affairs but breakfast is eaten in total silence and there are even dedicated quiet rooms for those who wish to eat all meals in peace.
Check in at the Healing Arts spa, home to a highly trained team of intuitive therapists, where treatments include energy work, Ayurveda and lifestyle consultations. Opt for Abhyanga-Gharshana, a dosha-balancing herbal-oil therapy, or the signature deep-tissue massage to iron out over-worked limbs. Kripalu is worthy of its international acclaim and makes for a transformative add-on to a trip to New York or Boston. Just don't expect a high-end, fluffy-robe experience.