The Essentials of Kripalu Yoga

Making time to meditate
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While most styles of yoga include meditation and breathing, Kripalu yoga places equal importance on the mind, body, and spirit. It's ideal for beginners and is accepting and adaptable to everyone, no matter your age, ability, size, or other circumstance.

For many, Kripalu yoga extends into their daily lives and it can be the source of great spiritual and mental transformation as well as physical health. This is a very popular style and it's definitely something to consider as you explore yoga.


Kripalu is a gentle hatha yoga practice with a compassionate approach. It places an emphasis on meditation, physical healing, and spiritual transformation that overflows from the yoga mat into daily life. Over time, students are taught to observe their thoughts without judging and to accept and love themselves as they are.

Kripalu is gentle yoga that emphasizes moving at your own pace, self-acceptance, and adaptability. It is ideal for people facing life challenges.

In a Kripalu class, each student learns to find their own level of practice on a given day by looking inward. The classes usually begin with pranayama exercises and gentle stretches followed by asana practice and ending with final relaxation.

In classes for beginners, poses are held for a short time as students begin to feel the effects of prana in the body. More advanced classes include longer hold times and, eventually, flow.

At the end of class, Kripalu teachers say Jai Bhagwan instead of namaste. The two terms essentially have the same meaning, but the former is in Hindi and the latter in Sanskrit.

Because of Kripalu's emphasis on adaptability and acceptance, it is a style that is welcoming to people who feel like they are outside the norm. It's also popular for those who are looking for transformation during difficult times of life or who have injuries or other physical limitations.  

The Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health

The name Kripalu is associated both with a style of hatha yoga and a yoga and wellness center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Both were founded by yoga guru Amrit Desai who came to the United States from India in 1960. Kripalu was named for Desai's teacher, Sri Kripalvananda, a Kundalini yoga master.

After outgrowing two facilities in Pennsylvania, the Kripalu Center began operating out of its current home in the Berkshire mountains of Massachusetts in 1983. The programs at the center continued to expand until 1994. That is when it was revealed that founder Amrit Desai had engaged in inappropriate sexual relations with students. He left the center and the leadership was transferred to a group of senior members who began to rebuild.

Under this new management group, the Kripalu Center began to expand its class offerings to include a wide array of yoga styles and wellness topics. It also began to establish itself as a multi-dimensional retreat destination.

These days, the center offers an extremely diverse course schedule. It often hosts yoga's best-known teachers who lead weekend and week-long workshops. They also offer yoga, massage, and Ayurvedic teacher training. It has become one of the most popular retreat centers in the United States

Is Kripalu Yoga Right for You?

Kripalu appeals to people who want to work both physically and spiritually to improve their health and sense of well-being. The gentle and individualized approach makes it a good choice for students who can benefit from an adaptive practice. This includes people with arthritis, seniors, and anyone who may be overweight. Kripalu is also a wonderful introductory practice for almost anyone who has never done yoga before. 

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