Kripalu Is Shutting Down until 2021 and Laying Off 450 Employees

Because of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, yoga center Kripalu is closing its doors and will not return until next year.

Kripalu in the Berkshires / Photo provided

Kripalu, the yoga and retreat center known for both its expansive campus nestled in the Berkshires and its wholesome approach to wellness, will be closing down for an unspecified time and laying off nearly 90 percent of its employees due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Like most businesses in Massachusetts, Kripalu was forced to close its doors as a non-essential business on March 13. Offering everything from meditation workshops to Ayurveda lessons and even programs that took to the great outdoors, Kripalu works best with what the pandemic era condemns: large gatherings of people.

After retaining staff through the early weeks of the pandemic, on Thursday, CEO Barbara Vacarr announced the center would be shutting down until an unspecified time in 2021 and laying off 450 of its 489 total employees by June 17. According to The Berkshire Eaglethe remaining 31 employees will receive salary cuts based on the amount of their yearly compensation. The highest-paid staffers will receive the biggest pay reductions, and the remaining senior leadership will receive 40 percent pay cuts.

“As we think about the road ahead and what it takes in fixed costs to operate the retreat center, we have no line in sight into opening Kripalu this year,” Vacarr told the Eagle. “Because of that line of sight now, we were faced with some very tough decisions about having to take a close look at our finances and how we manage between now and when we reopen.”

Based on current social distancing guidelines and the projected lasting impacts of the coronavirus, it’s hard to determine what exactly Kripalu will look like in 2021, or when they will even be able to start seeing guests again. But Vacarr says that they will only open when it’s safe to do so. Tanglewood, the Berkshire music venue where the Boston Symphony performs, has also closed for the season.

When Kripalu closed all on-site programs on March 13, teachers and instructors at the center quickly started offering online programming, which Vacarr says the company intends to continue even during the shutdown. Online programming includes access to yoga videos, Ayurveda, meditation, cooking demos, and more.

“Our intention is to turn the unique challenges (such as this crisis) ahead into transformative opportunities for Kripalu, and for the world,” Vacarr says. “We’ll evolve and transform to address our community’s needs. We will welcome a way of being together in a new world, one that asks for us to come together in solidarity with love and compassion. I believe Kripalu will emerge strengthened to meet the needs of a post pandemic world.”