In yoga, we learn that many styles are derived from Hatha sequencing. Kripalu yoga is one of the many that is based on the philosophy that you should practice just as how you should live your life. Like all forms of yoga, breathing exercises (pranayama), poses (asana), and meditation are all equally important. But Kripalu yoga teaches that the body is the center of your being, and so you must learn from, as well as learn to accept, your body as your best teacher.
History of Kripalu Yoga
Kripalu yoga was founded by Amrit Desai in the 1980's, who named it after his teacher in India, Sri Kripalvananda. Indidentally, the world "kripalu" is also one of the Hindu words for "compassion". The Kripalu Center can still be found in Massachusetts, although anyone can practice it anywhere. On an interesting note, as where most yoga practices end with the word "Namaste", Kripalu yoga practitioners say "jai bhagwan", which essentially means the same thing (I bow to you, or thank you), but in Hindi instead of Sanskrit.
What are Kripalu Yoga Poses?
Kripalu yoga exercises are similar to the gentle style of Hatha sequences. It begins by understanding your body, and figuring out how it manages in different poses, as all bodies are different and we must take this individuality into consideration always. There is a focus on "press points" that are attuned to your body, so that you will gradually learn not to do poses in the ways prescribed by the books and experts, but in a way that best suits your body.
However, you might start finding challenges when Kripalu yoga exercises require longer holds than usual, and particularly deep meditation sessions. Eventually, you will become aware of the limits and potentials of your body and allow yourself to flow through the poses like an old pro. Otherwise, the poses are very similar to other flow classes, such as Dancer Pose (Natrajasana), Pigeon Pose (Kapotasana), and Spinal Twists (Matsyendrasana).
Benefits of Kripalu Yoga
Kripalu yoga is great for tapping into that inner being that is capable of anything. This idea of self-empowerment and believing in yourself and in your body is what makes Kripalu Yoga so transformative, to beginners and regular yoga practitioners alike. Because it is generally so gentle and tailored to your body's capacities, Kripalu yoga poses can be done by anyone, even the out of shape or elderly. The flipside to Kripalu yoga, the philosophical spirit it imparts, will also benefit anyone who needs to know and discover themselves better (and who doesn't?).
In other words, Kripalu Yoga is a great way to develop your mind, body, and spirit in harmony with each other. You will develop a consciousness about the way you think, act, and feel not only in your practice, but in your day-to-day life as well. So whether you want to make the pilgrimage to the Kripalu Center itself, where you can engage in the community holistically as a sort of yoga retreat, or you study at a studio that offers certified Kripalu yoga classes, you can find that stillness in the mind and that vitality in your movements that you can tap into in stressful situations. Most importantly, it preaches love in all aspects, especially when in comes to loving yourself and your body.