Kripalu Yoga

   Kripalu Yoga is a form of HATHA YOGA originally developed by Amrit DESAI (b. 1932) in the United States. The Indian-born Desai had been teach-ing yoga in the United States through the 1960s. However, in 1970, a significant development occurred in his work. Immediately after a visit to his teacher, Swami KRIPALVANANDA (1913–81), and while engaged in his regular practice, he experi-enced a spontaneous flow of yoga postures. He attributed this occurrence to the intelligence of the life force, which performed the postures with-out willful direction. He studied his experience and discovered the means of leading others into the same experience. As he began to teach this technique to others, he named it in honor of his guru, Sri Kripalvananda.
   Kripalu Yoga begins with the eight aspects of Ashtanga Yoga derived from Patanjali’s YOGA SUTRA. The postures (ASANAS) are learned in a three-step progress. One first learns the asanas consciously and practices them until some mastery of the positions is gained. In the second stage, as the practitioner holds each position, she or he with-draws attention from the outward world (in this case, the posture) and focuses attention inward on the accompanying body sensations. At this stage, one generally encounters a variety of psychologi-cal barriers and works to release all blockages on physical, mental, and spiritual levels. In the third stage, one learns to participate in “meditation in motion,” allowing the wisdom of the body to move itself into the postures apart from any con-scious willing. Though simply described in three stages, each stage requires a significant amount of both physical and psychological work.
   Desai began teaching his new variation on yoga in 1972 through the Kripalu Yoga Fellow-ship, in Somneytown, Pennsylvania, which he founded. The fellowship trained and commis-sioned many teachers of Kripalu Yoga. In 1994, after the discovery that Desai had had sexual relations with several of his students, the board of the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Lenox, Massachusetts, the showcase center of the fellow-ship, asked him to leave. Subsequently, the fellow-ship became organized as an educational institute without a focus on one teacher.
   The Kripalu Center hosts a variety of pro-grams, including yoga retreats, healing arts train-ing, leadership instruction, and yoga teacher certification.
   Further reading: Stephen Cope, Yoga and the Quest for the True Self (New York: Bantam, 2000); Amrit Desai, Kripalu Yoga: Meditation in Motion (Lenox, Mass.: Kri-palu Yoga Fellowship, 1981); Richard Faulds, Kripalu Yoga: A Guide to Practice on and off the Mat (New York: Bantam, 2005); Deva Parnell, “Kripalu Yoga: Theory and Practice.” Available online. URL: Accessed August 17, 2005.

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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