Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Kripalu vs. Omega

So I went to a retreat at Kripalu this weekend. It's a yoga-based retreat in Stockbridge, a few yards down the road from Tanglewood. I had a great time, met some nice folks, ate really good, really simple food, took 6:30 am yoga classes both mornings, slept on a top bunk by a window overlooking a lake in a room full of two dozen other women sleeping in similar beds, and really got away from it all.

I have been to a couple of weekends at Omega, in Rhinebeck, NY, and I find it impossible not to compare the two. I decided the difference is that Omega is much more geared toward the New York City crowd. Kripalu, which started as a yoga retreat, is just more laid back. Both are fine, but Kripalu did make me slightly insane at first. You can take the girl out of New York City...

Kripalu and Omega: Compare and contrast

Coffee Kripalu doesn't serve coffee in their cafeteria. You have to buy it at their cafe. Omega has a half dozen varieties.

Cafe/bookstore The Kripalu cafe is only open until 8 pm. Ditto the bookstore. I think that's insane. The Omega ones are open until 11 pm. They probably open earlier, too, but I didn't register that info.

Clocks None of Kripalu's were correct. Apparently they had had a power outage a day or two earlier. But no one had bothered to sync them. I can't imagine that at Omega, although I could be wrong.

Check-in This was the most infuriating part about Kripalu. It's Friday night, the start of the weekend conferences and retreats, I get there straight from work and have about 45 minutes to register, find my room, eat dinner, and get to my workshop. And there's 10 people in line and just two at the registration desk. I had to wait at least 20 minutes. (I have to say, however, that Omega doesn't serve dinner on Friday night to weekend retreatants, and Kripalu not only fed us, the cafeteria was open until 7:30.)

The first time I went to Omega, I got on the very long--15 people--registration line, sighed, and pulled out a book. But within five minutes I was checking in. I couldn't believe it. They must have had six people doing registration. I told them, "This is not the Brooklyn post office!" And they laughed and laughed. I wrote about it to Omega and Omega published my story in the catalogue and gave me a 20 percent discount for my next workshop.

So the next year at registration I told the guy checking me in that I had been so impressed with their efficiency the previous year, and I mentioned my line about the post office. And the guy got all excited and said, "You're the Brooklyn post office! You're the Brooklyn post office!" My reputation preceded me.

Environment They are both very similar in the feel, lots of mediation and yoga classes offered, lots of opportunities to have a variety of spa and holistic treatments and consultations, gorgeous settings--Omega on the campus of a former Jewish red-diaper baby sleepaway camp; Kripalu in a former Jesuit center on top of a small mountain overlooking the stunning Stockbridge Bowl, a large lake.

I like both but their settings are quite different. Omega has little camp buildings all over the place. Kripalu is all in one big building, which meant I could go barefoot everywhere except the dining room. Kripalu is also, therefore, year-round and Omega isn't open in the winter, although they do offer workshops elsewhere.

I was disappointed Kripalu didn't offer more in the way of mediation and tai chi classes. They only have one a day of the former and none of the latter. They did have a great Dancekinetics class that looked like a ton of fun but it hadn't occurred to me to take it and they only offered it once that I could do. Next time.

Of course, the best part about Kripalu is that it's just an hour away. I commute to workshops there--I bet lots of folks do. I'll be back, I'm sure. Look up a workshop on their website that you might like to go to, and let's do it!


  1. Thanks, this is a very useful comparison! I just went to Omega for the first time and am thinking about Kripalu.

  2. Hey, Sasha, just read this and really enjoyed it. I know of both these places, have had several friends go to Kripalu, two who actually lived and worked there, and several who've attended things at Omega. Everyone has said very positive things about both, but not having been, it was hard to envision what they would be like (actually, i DID hear about no coffee at Kripalu, which would be tough for me, addicted as I am! My friend who lived there used to sneak out to get it! I think in those days, that was even further afield than it sounds like it is now). Thanks for this! It inspires me to go check them out. And love the story about "the Brooklyn post office"!

  3. i've been to both several times. omega is like a camp, kripalu is more institutional. no comparison on food, it's waaay better at kripalu (omega's menu is limited and falls more in line with 70's notion of health food flavors). kripalu also offers a hot tub and polar pool. overall, both are great. what is really comes down to is the presenter.

  4. I love both of them. I had a chance to present at Omega this past summer and hope to at Kripalu this coming year!


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