Kripalu yoga is a popular choice for those who want a yoga experience that is both physically and spiritually transformative. Founded by Amrit Desai over 30 years ago, this “yoga of consciousness” uses the combination of breathing and meditation exercises to help you tap into your inner being and recognize and harness the potential of your body.
The sense of self-empowerment you’ll get will come in handy as some of the poses used in Kripalu yoga may require longer hold periods. Here are some examples of the Kripalu Yoga poses you will learn.
Frog Pose or Mandukasana
The Mandukasana is a seated pose that effectively stretches the leg and thigh muscles, increasing their flexibility, and loosening the muscles around the hips. To do the Frog pose, sit with your legs folded outward and bring your knees as far apart as you comfortably can. Your toes should be touching each other as you place your palms flat on the mat and tucked under your leg. Keep your back straight and hold the pose for at least 10 seconds.
Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
The Utkatasana is one of those Kripalu Yoga poses that LOOK easy, but in reality can work multiple muscle groups simultaneously. It’s called the Chair pose because it mimics the motion of lowering yourself onto a chair, with your legs bent and your torso bent over at a 45-degree angle. Keep your arms raised, palms facing each other, and make sure to keep your back straight as you hold the pose.
Seated Angle Forward Bend (Upavistha Kunasana)
To do the Upavistha Kunasana, sit on the floor with your legs spread wide in front of you, toes pointed upward. Raise your arms and fingertips toward the ceiling, lift and extend your spine as you continue to slowly bend forward, arms extended sideward. Depending on your flexibility, hold your toes or clasp your fingers around the outer part of the foot while you’re bent low, your gaze directed towards the floor.
Camel Pose (Ushtrasana)
The Ushtrasana, when done properly, can relieve lower back pain, tone the glutes, and give a nice long stretch across the chest. Kneel with your knees at a hip-width distance, with your shins and tops of your feet touching the ground. Slowly lower your upper body backward so that your hands are grasping the soles of your feet or the ankles. We suggest doing a modified version of the Camel if you’ve recently had neck or back injuries, and use yoga blocks if you are not able to bend backward that low.
Hero Pose (Virasana)
The Virasana works wonders for tired legs and limited stretch or flexibility in the thigh muscles. The Hero pose is also often used as an alternative to the Lotus pose when doing seated meditation. Do the Hero by sitting with your legs bent either underneath you (with your buttocks resting on the soles of your feet) or slightly angled outward – so that your buttocks lie flat on the space between your feet.
As with many other styles of yoga, you will also learn to do the Sun Salutations, Warrior series, and other bends and spinal twists, so that every Kripalu yoga session has variety and ends with the utterance of “Jai Baghwan,” a Hindi phrase that translates to “thank you / I bow to you.”. Note that these are only some of the Kripalu Yoga poses you can expect in a Kripalu Yoga class.