Kripalu Guest Stories: Sultana Center
I was already living in the Berkshires when Kripalu came to Lenox in the eighties. I was doing yoga at the time but I wasn’t committed to it. Through my experience at Kripalu, I made that commitment. Then, organically, one thing led to another.
When I was growing up, I was called a klutz, so I never danced. I’d go to a wedding and everyone would be dancing, but I’d sit and watch. When Kripalu started, they offered DansKinetics classes, now called YogaDance. I’d peek into the room where everyone was dancing, and part of me wanted to go inside, but I was hesitant. The teachers would invite me in, and I would go to the corner and watch. Then they’d encourage me to join in. Slowly but surely, I began to dance. They really give you permission to come from where you are at that moment, and no one is judging you. There were a lot of teachers, but Megha is the one who really called me out of myself. I’m not a klutz anymore; now I’m a dancer. Every time I see Megha I thank her for giving me the gift of dance.
I’m part of the Berkshire Kripalu Community (BKC) and I volunteer at Kripalu. I’m also on the BKC board of directors and on the outreach committee. About seven years ago, we began a project to bring Kripalu Yoga to the local prison. I got Kripalu teachers to go in and teach. The guards tell us it’s made a difference in the behavior of the prisoners. Also, about seven years ago, I noticed that the Kripalu Kitchen had leftover food, so I arranged an outreach project to bring the food to the Guthrie Center, and BKC volunteers serve a community luncheon every week to those in need.
I go to India and other parts of Asia and buy beautiful things: silk scarves, esoteric jewelry, and embroidered bags for the Kripalu Shop. Friends from Kripalu and the BKC started asking if they could go with me, so I began taking women on spiritual pilgrimages to some of the holy sites.
It really is amazing; Kripalu came to town and brought me the gifts of dance, yoga, health—and the opportunity to do so much seva. Over the years I’ve taken many workshops at Kripalu. I treat myself about once a year. It’s an opportunity to go deeper. I’m 70 years old now and I’m healthy and full of energy. I really feel that’s a gift from my yoga. It’s a spiritual practice that connects me with a deep place inside myself.
—Sultana Center, semiretired designer and buyer, Lenox, Massachusetts