What is Kripalu?
About Kripalu Yoga
Amrit Desai was a disciple of Swami Kripalu in India. In 1960, he moved to the US to attend the Philadelphia College of Arts and subsequently co-founded the Yoga Society of Pennsylvania, the first “Kripalu center", in 1972 in Sumneytown, PA. In 1977, Swami Kripalu moved to the US and spent the last 4 years of his life inspiring thousands of individuals to practice yoga regularly. By 1983, the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health opened in Stockbridge , MA at a former Jesuit seminary and previous residence of Andrew Carnegie. Over time, the focus shifted from a guru-led ashram to a more secular, all-inclusive center for yoga, health, wellness and lifestyle change. Today Kripalu Center continues as the largest and most established yoga retreat center for yoga, health and holistic living in North America, with the goal of promoting optimal living for the whole person: body, mind, heart and spirit.
For Your Body
Kripalu yoga provides a complete body "workout" for any ability level.
Depending on your goals, Kripalu yoga can be practiced gently and restoratively, or vigorously with a healthy sweat release! Kripalu yoga promotes healthy circulation, breathing and functioning of internal organs by way of massaging these systems during movement flow and is truly a complete exercise!
Standing postures load joints to promote bone growth and density. This can help minimize bone loss that occurs with the aging process or results as a side effect of many medications.
Inversions assist healthy flow of lymphatic fluid, which cleanses the body of toxins and boosts immune function.
Your body is challenged isometrically while holding a pose over a number of breath cycles and muscles are strengthened throughout movement, flowing from one pose to another.
Stretching increases flexibility and range of motion which benefits not only your fitness level but also improves daily function–it's not a matter of whether you trip while walking, it's more important that you have the body awareness, balance and strength to prevent yourself from falling and actually hurting yourself!
For Your Mind
Kripalu yoga underscores the importance of the breath through various beathing practices, or pranayama. Focusing on breath, whether by itself or as support for body movement, helps to quiet the mind, allowing extraneous thoughts and “chatter" to fall away. Balancing postures also foster increased concentration and focus, bringing greater clarity of thought and thereby improving cognitive functioning. Sustaining postures and supporting with the breath contribute to grounding and centering both the body and the mind. Forward bends/folds and inversions can be especially helpful reducing feelings of anxiety and depression. With practice over time, you may begin to experience more creativity and productivity simply by clearing away layers of “mental clutter"!
For Your Spirit
Kripalu yoga recognizes the value of self-awareness, self-care and self-compassion, and I have learned that these practices are essential for greater awareness of others, caring for others and compassion for others. Despite globalization and social media “connection", so much of the world we live in today is disconnected from authentic relationship with each other. Even individuals are disconnected from themselves–minds lost in “smart" phones, mindless eating of fast-foods, and rushing around from one thing to the next on a daily basis.
Swami Kripalu stated: “The highest form of practice is self-awareness without judgement". Beginning with the breath and continuing with bodily movement, you begin to become more aware. When you accept yourself exactly as you are and meet others where they are, only then can growth begin.