The Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health is a non-profit organization that operates a health and yoga retreat in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Its 160,000-square-foot (15,000 m2) facility is a former Jesuit novitiate and juniorate seminary built in 1957. The center has described itself as North America's largest residential facility for holistic health and education. With 2013 revenue of $34.7 million, it employed about 626 people as of 2008 and can accommodate more than 650 overnight guests.
Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health
|Former names||Yoga Society of Pennsylvania|
Indian-born Amrit Desai came to the United States in 1960 to attend the Philadelphia College of Art. A close disciple of a renowned Indian yoga master named Swami Kripalu, Desai taught yoga classes to a growing number of yoga enthusiasts in the Philadelphia area. In 1966, Desai and nine others formed the Yoga Society of Pennsylvania, a nonprofit organization organized to advance the science and philosophy of yoga.
In 1972, Desai left the Philadelphia area with a handful of dedicated students to establish a small, residential yoga retreat center in Sumneytown, Pennsylvania.
In 1974, the name of the nonprofit organization was changed to “Kripalu Yoga Fellowship” to reflect an increasing emphasis on propagating the teachings of Swami Kripalu through residential retreats, depth programs, and the training of Kripalu Yoga teachers.
In 1975, Kripalu purchased a second and significantly larger facility in Summit Station, Pennsylvania, which had space for student housing, group yoga instruction, meal preparation, and a fully staffed holistic-health center that offered massage and a variety of other health services in concert with two physicians. This health center was the genesis of “healing arts,” which remains an important aspect of the Kripalu curriculum and mission.
Both the Sumneytown and Summit Station properties were staffed by an inspired group of volunteers and yoga enthusiasts who formed the nucleus of the community or ashram. Desai was the ashram’s spiritual leader, while the ashram staff offered a curriculum of yoga, holistic health, and self-discovery programs to the public.
In 1977, Desai’s teacher, Swami Kripalu, came to the United States and spent the last four years of his life in residence at Sumneytown and Summit Station. Although continuing a lifestyle of intensive yoga practice, Swami Kripalu’s presence galvanized the growth of what would become Kripalu. Delivering periodic talks and teachings, his lectures and writings inspired thousands to begin regular yoga practice. Swami Kripalu returned to India in 1981, where he died shortly thereafter. His teachings, especially those delivered in America, still form the basis of the Kripalu approach.
In early 1983, Kripalu purchased its current Stockbridge, Massachusetts, location, a former Jesuit seminary on a property called Shadowbrook, and Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health opened in December 1983.
During the 1980s, Desai became an international figure in yoga, delivering talks, performing yoga demonstrations, and leading seminars worldwide. The Kripalu community continued to grow in size until it contained more than 350 residents. In 1994, although one of the spiritual practices of the Kripalu Center was "Brahmacharya" the practice of celibacy for unmarried residents, revelations surfaced of sexual relationships between Desai and several female ashram residents. When these and other alleged abuses of power were confirmed, Kripalu’s Board of Trustees called for Desai’s immediate resignation. Since 1994, and continuing today, there is no formal relationship between Kripalu and Desai.
Between 1996 and 2004, Kripalu’s leadership and staff focused on establishing a new vision, launching Kripalu as a nationally recognized yoga retreat and experiential program center. While continuing to teach Kripalu Yoga, it reached out to a broad mix of teachers from other traditions and disciplines to expand its curriculum and appeal to the growing number of Americans interested in yoga, health, wellness, and personal growth. During these years, Kripalu was restructured into a standard nonprofit organization offering a broad curriculum of educational programs and spiritual retreats. This new structure was formalized in 1999, when Kripalu officially ceased being a religious order.
In June 2009 a new, 80-room environmentally sensitive residential building, The Annex, was completed.
Today, Kripalu is home to over 700 programs a year and to the Kripalu Schools of Yoga, Ayurveda, and Integrative Yoga Therapy; the Institute of Extraordinary Living; and RISE, an evidence-based conscious leadership program.
Kripalu's 100 acres (40 ha), include forests, lawns, gardens, and access to Lake Mahkeenac. Conservation easements on 225 of the acres were granted in 1997 using a framework of the U.S. Forest Legacy Program.
Kripalu's principal 160,000-square-foot (15,000 m2) building was constructed by the Jesuits in 1957 to replace the Gilded Age mansion "Shadowbrook Cottage." The Jesuits had planned to demolish the mansion due to high maintenance costs, but prior to demolition, the mansion was destroyed by a fire in 1956 which resulted in several fatalities. Jesuits had acquired the former estate in 1922 as a novitiate, but moved away in 1970.
A $15 million, six-story housing annex with 80 guest rooms, was completed in 2010. Designed by architect Peter Rose, the annex incorporates sustainable design elements and won a 2010 award for specialized housing from the American Institute of Architects. The institute commented on the building's interior natural lighting, and noted that the architectural design and climate control systems are integrated and consume 40 percent less energy than a conventional building. Rose also developed a master plan for increasing the center's capacity and developing it into "a model of environmental responsibility" through improvements to existing buildings, landscaping, and new construction.
Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health formerly operated its own water supply. Groundwater from onsite wells was used for its water supply source, supplemented by water purchased from the Lenox water department. There were regulatory agency "concerns" resulting in at least two enforcement actions about the water supply's potential vulnerability to contamination, and as of 2009 the center's water supply had been converted to rely solely on purchased water obtained from surface water sources.
As of 2008, Kripalu Center in Stockbridge said it offered more than 750 programs and spiritual retreats attended by about 25,000 people annually. Total annual visitation is reported to be about 30,000 people. Many workshops are conducted by outside presenters. Kripalu Center also offers a semester-long program for young adults; projects in music, weight loss and post-traumatic stress disorder.
About 2,200 independent instructors using the trademarked term "Kripalu" pay training and certification fees. These affiliates obtain access to liability insurance and other business and marketing support.
Administration and financesEdit
From 2004 until 2010, Patton Garrett Sarley Jr., served as Kripalu's president and chief executive. Sarley, who goes by the name Dinabandhu, a Sanskrit name meaning "friend of the poor and the helpless", had been Kripalu's chief operating officer under Desai, but left at the time of Desai's resignation. During his absence from Kripalu, Sarley headed the Omega Institute, an educational center. In 2004, a struggling Kripalu rehired Sarley to be its president and chief executive officer, and gave him a seat on the board. His wife, Mary "Ila" Sarley was also brought on, as executive vice president.
Over the next five years Kripalu saw its bookings increase steadily and its total revenue double. By 2008 revenue have grown to $27.4 million, a seven percent increase from the previous year. Expenses in 2008 rose nine percent, to $26.23 million, with payroll and employee benefit expenses rising 4.4 percent from 2007. The Sarleys were given a 35 percent increase in their combined pay and benefits, raising their total executive compensation from $422,000 in 2007 to $584,000 in 2008.
The steady increase in business came to an abrupt halt towards the start of 2009. Caught in the wake of the deepest recession since the Great Depression, Kripalu saw bookings for 2009 plunging as much as 25 percent from previous levels.
Kripalu's leadership responded to the expected drop in business in several ways: in January 2009, they eliminated 35 full-time and 26 part-time positions (roughly 15 percent of Kripalu's staff); they canceled bonuses, and they reduced senior and executive pay by 5 to 15 percent. According to Dinabandhu Sarley, a steep drop in business and high expenses necessitated the cuts. "All told, we went through and we had to cut," Sarley said. "We have very high overhead and very high fixed costs. There is no wiggle room on some of these things." After the cuts, the Sarleys received a total 2009 executive compensation of $538,000.
In 2009 the organization reported revenue of $25.51 million and expenses of $24.35 million. Revenue in 2012 grew six percent to $32.5 million.
In October 2010, the Sarley executive team was replaced by CEO David Surrenda, who was previously (since 1987) director of an Oakland, California, consulting firm called Leadership Edge, and Chairman of the Board Lisette Cooper, founder of investment management firm Athena Capital Advisors. In August 2012, Surrenda was replaced as CEO by Richard "Shobhan" Faulds, who had served as the chairman of Kripalu's board of trustees from 2001 to 2010 and had been president from 1998 to 2001. Faulds has also been Kripalu’s legal counsel since 1989. David Lipsius was named chief executive of Kripalu in September 2012, after joining Kripalu in January "to pursue his personal dharma." Faulds became Vice President of Yoga Development. During 2012, Surrenda's salary and benefits were $260,097, and Faulds' were $200,762. 
In 2014, Faulds' compensation fell to $137,303, while Lipsius was paid $298,105. Revenue in 2014 was about $33.8 million.
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