This weekend I went to Kripalu for the first time. The only other yoga retreat center I've been to is Yogaville, an ashram. An ashram is a a place where there is a guru and it's populated by disciples. Yogaville's guru is Swami Satchinanda (who is no longer among the living) but they have teachers who continue to carry out his teachings, as well as other other teachers who come in for special programs. Maybe it's not fair to compare Kripalu to Yogaville because they are different types of places, but since Yogaville was my only experience going to a yoga destination, and because Kripalu's advertising material features everyone all dressed in white (just like an ashram!) I thought it would be kind of the same.
In a way, it was. The program sessions are interspersed with time for meals, as well as free time for other yoga classes, meditation sessions, or appointments for massage, acupuncture, etc. But when I got there, I was a little surprised that Kripalu is just one building, and it's kind of like college, but with way better food. There's a lobby with normal people in normal clothes ... like jeans, even! No one wore white. I felt stupid when I was at Yogaville because at the kirtan on Saturday night, apparently, you're supposed to wear white. I still don't own any white but I still packed a light-colored outfit for the kirtan at Kripalu. Again, people wore normal clothes. No white! Now that I look at their website more closely, I still see no white. Apparently their beautiful all-white clad yoga borg race featured in their ad campaign has fulfilled their duty of brainwashing me and moved on.
Anyway, I like that Kripalu is very education-based. It really is like yoga school. I'm planning to return for my 500-hr yoga teacher training, because I like their style and the how well-rounded the curriculum looks. The atmosphere is very low-key, and while there are a lot of options for things to do while you're there, there's no pressure to do anything in particular. They offer "R & R" packages, so you can do just that! It was nice to get away for a weekend, and I'd definitely recommend it!