Berkshire Beat: Peace found in a yurt


Sometimes, just sometimes, I feel overwhelmed.
At any given point in these fair Berkshire Hills there can be a variety of activities happening at once. Sometimes I check my Facebook events calendar and see that yes, in fact, I did check the "Join" box and said I would show up to their event. I know what most of you are thinking, "No one looks at those Facebook events anyway."

Oh, but they do and in their nicest, yet slightly unsatisfied voice, they tell you that you didn’t show. But the actual, psychological truth is, until they start cloning, you just can’t be everywhere at once.

I’ve found that you should just go where you’re needed.

And where I was needed last weekend was Race Brook Lodge in Sheffield. My friend James invited me to join him for a Sunday yoga session/post hike at this place located off beautiful Route 41.

I had once-upon-a-time visited the property’s sister restaurant, Stagecoach Tavern, for a romping night of beverages and Klesmer-style rock band, but had never seen the entire property, which sidelines the Mount Everett State Reservation in daylight.

A right hand turn off Undermountain Road changed all of that for me. Turning onto a winding dirt road, I passed the Race Brook Inn, a red hippie-looking farmhouse, which I read houses all the guests. To my right was the large windowed red barn, which normally holds the yoga class, but had an art show that weekend. So onward we went -- my little car’s tires kicking up mud. I started to maneuver my wheel right, then left along the partially washed-out drive, so I wouldn’t get stuck.

I gingerly parked my car in the driest patch of dirt incline I could find and got out. The smell of wet dirt and manure filled my nose, which is surprisingly a great smell.

James got out of his car, smiled and waved me on. We were already late for the 11 a.m. yoga class.

"Where is it?" I asked.

"Over there," he replied and pointed past the line of cars parked in front of us.

"There?" I asked. "What is that?"

"It’s a yurt", he replied, like I should have known. Confused, I followed him to the yurt’s door. I opened it and was pleasantly greeted by five yogaites, already rolling out mats and stretching.

"Welcome" said a young and limber looking man. "I’m Sean, thanks for joining us."

I try and practice yoga a few times a week, but the idea of doing yoga in a yurt seemed not only foreign, but advanced. And advanced isn’t something I’m claiming until I can master an unassisted handstand. As I began to unroll my mat, I took in just how beautiful and vast this yurt is -- a wooden frame, which reminded me of a drying rack for clothes, covered in heavy fabric and topped with a bubble window at its peak so the canvas of the trees above were in your view.

The cool, clay dirt floor dusted on my hands. A wood stove was pumping out heat and Sean had lit the cleansing sage smudge stick. We started our practice with a beautiful 15-minute meditation, and then worked our way into almost two hours of pushing, bending and stretching our bodies and minds. And when I just couldn’t hold Pigeon one moment longer, it was over.

Everyone in the yurt hugged as if we had all gone through a major bonding experience. I liked these people.

One of the other yogaites, Casey Meade, then invited James and me to their rented home up the road where they generously served an amazing homemade lunch with stimulating conversation. I reunited with two people, Heather and Vita, that I had met a few years ago in Brooklyn. The Berkshires has a weird way of reuniting people.

After lunch, two of the farmers at Race Brook, Tanya and James, invited us to come and plant some of the seedlings in the garden that would eventually serve the restaurant. I was thrilled.

It wasn’t until my friend reminded me at 4:30 that we still wanted to get a hike in. We graciously thanked our gardening buddies, gathered up our dogs and headed out. On a moss cloaked path we followed a shallow, mellow moving river. It wasn’t until we were two-thirds into this easy hike that we started to catch some elevation. This elated me, as I knew where we were headed -- Race Brook Falls!

The three-tiered waterfall isn’t the largest or the most roaring of falls I’ve ever seen, yet the mossy terrain surrounding it and the natural swimming pool at the bottom make it one of the most beautiful. The view also doesn’t hurt either.

After our scenic Instagrams were taken, we headed back down the mountain. I was genuinely bummed I had to leave. I really like the bohemian feel and lifestyle these people are living. I felt at ease and in complete relaxation with them and the surroundings.

If you’re in the need for a rest, a hike, a yoga session or all three, check this place out. The yoga classes are every Sunday at 11. For more information, visit

What else am I excited for that’s coming up? The first day of the Downtown Pittsfield Farmer’s Market is Saturday morning ( The Berkshires own Burlesque Troupe will be performing a short drive away at The Iron Horse in Northampton on May 15. The Hoosac Harvest Seedling Swap at Storey Publishing in North Adams on May 17 at 10 a.m ( And The Down County Ball that’s going to have dancing and music at the Garage space at Berkshire Theater Group’s Colonial Theater on Saturday May 31 (


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