Grace Jull, the founder of Farm Wellness Retreats has worked at Kripalu Center
in Lenox, Massachusetts since 1994.
The following article appears in the Kripalu Yoga Teacher Association Summer 2010 bulletin, which is distributed to 2500 Kripalu yoga teachers internationally. Grace Jull continues her ongoing tenure as faculty in the Kripalu Professional Training Department, teaching anatomy in the Kripalu Massage
School and in the Kripalu Professional Training for advanced and beginning yoga teachers.
Wellness retreats take root on local farms
What most moves me when I offer yoga is assisting people to come back Home—to their breath and bodies and to the moment, to knowing the nourishment offered by food, thoughts and
actions, and to resting into the larger web of Life that holds us.
contemplation of creating nourishment and a sense of Home deepened last year with a return to growing my own food and spending more time with visionary farmers. I renewed my concern about soil and
nutrient depletion, the challenges of organic and sustainable production of food, and the state of hunger—physical, economic, and spiritual—that many people face. Last year, one in 10 families in
Massachusetts needed some form of supplemental food source through stamps, banks, or community meal services, according to the organization Feeding America, and Diabetes and depression are at
Many of us as Kripalu teachers share a desire to expand and more deeply cultivate healing for our communities. We have great compassion for the fact that more and more people
desperately need a refuge, a way to pause and re-prioritize, to become more aligned with ourselves, each other and the earth. The word Kripalu itself means “compassion”.
Farm Wellness Retreats is a fledgling organization that is taking root to address and unite these societal concerns, connecting farms, health practitioners, and people hungry for
rejuvenating social and physical nourishment.
The current foundational phase is to train certified yoga teachers in a non-residential, low infrastructure, accessible 3-day wellness retreat model to be co-led on farms in their
communities. By receiving training, curriculum, marketing, and mentorship, teachers can feel inspired and supported in offering broader instructional content and healing contexts. Many of the
trainees will be from the Kripalu school, as there has been enthusiastic interest in the programs when it has been mentioned in Kripalu yoga teacher trainings.
The long-term vision for the organization is to augment these 3-day introductions with the potential for longer-term stays, assisting farms in becoming designated as healing
sanctuaries for retreat graduates who need more extensive support to address their reversible lifestyle conditions. Recently, the Center for Disease Control estimated that 75 to 90% of GP doctor
visits were due to lifestyle and stress-related symptoms.
Sustainability is the foundation of the vision—sustainable food, behaviors, interventions, and social networks that nourish individuals and communities at a local level. A strong
priority is helping to ensure the viability of organic farming by offering supplemental income and labor during the seasonal surges of weeding and harvesting. Programs like WWOOFing or Crop Mobs
already exist to link farms with hands on help, but this new program also deeply recognizes, honors and wants to help cultivate farms as profound environments specifically for healing. The magnitude
of Prana on an organic farm provides a uniquely transformative sanctuary and catalyst, with rana’s silent and surging lessons so palpable amidst the rows of bounty and beauty that are lovingly and
Integrated into the retreat curriculum are times of doing simple tasks and being of service to the farm, which offers a form of meaningful exercise. Weeding, picking rocks, or
harvesting all provide a clear point of focus and feedback for attention, and serve as an entry for those who find meditation challenging. Simply bending over compresses abdominal lymph and organs,
brings blood flow to the brain, and offers many physiological benefits. A participant’s state of body and mind will be different by the time they complete the activity—particularly when they spend
time cycling between the task and intervals of stretching and breathing. This approach also helps create a new habit of pausing amidst life’s momentum—a benefit when participants return
many of the practices on a farm are poignant lessons for our lives—the needs to sow, tend, and weed, to have fallow phases and grateful harvests. Modern contexts often desensitize us to the abundant
and cyclical nature of reality.
major theme of the program is helping people consider turning to friendships, service, and inspiration from the natural world, as well as food, for more fulfilling sources of satisfaction. Retreat nourishment and self-care activities
include simple stretching, breathing, sharing, detox practices, meditative farm tasks and harvesting and cooking low-cost, nourishing bulk meals for a workweek. Giving people information, however, is
secondary to the priority of helping them experience states of being that inherently transform their relationship to food, their bodies, and being in the world. And cultivating transformative shifts
and states is a skill unique to yoga teachers, particularly those trained in the Kripalu lineage.
the words of Antoine De Saint-Exupery, “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the people to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and
endless sea.” Creating a context of vitality, community, and contemplation will offer a unique opportunity for healing, economy, and enrichment for all.
The Farm Wellness Retreats organization is honored to be partnering with Shelburne
Farms for our regional training Sept 18 to 26 and hopefully again in the spring. This beautiful and internationally renowned farm and community education
center in Shelburne, Vermont, is a leader in innovative ventures such as the Farm to School Food programs.
2011, Farm Wellness Retreats is looking to expand from New England to California and Europe and to explore offering a Spanish and family version of the retreat model. Our program vision is eliciting
very positive responses from farmers, yoga teachers, and health practitioners.
Any interest, referrals, or contributions of skills or funding you choose to share are all gratefully welcomed. If you feel called to train, learn more, or donate services and
support, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org visit our
website at www.farmwellnessretreats.org.
Grace Jull is a senior faculty member at Kripalu Center and designs many specialized classes and curriculums for detox, juice fasts, and health and healing. She holds a Master's degree in Adult Education, with a specialization in
Transformative Community Development. Before coming to Kripalu, she designed and implemented therapeutic programs for youth at risk and Somali refugee women at outdoor education centers in