Get away from it all. Kripalu Yoga was created by Yoga master Amrit Desai in 1960 and focuses on improving the physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing of anyone who practices it.
The word “kripalu” means compassion and this particular strand of yoga places emphasis on understanding and encouraging uniqueness. It welcomes students from all religious and spiritual backgrounds and includes wisdom gained from new science and psychology researchers in its philosophy– as well as drawing on the healing techniques of alternative medicines.
Kripalu Yoga is a form of gentle hatha yoga, so it includes asanas (yoga poses), pranayama (breathing techniques), savasana (relaxation) and meditation. Classes usually begin with a warm up, known as centering, which releases your neck and spine. This helps to correct the bad habits that have become daily routine for many of us (if you’re reading this while slouching in front of your computer screen, sit up straight now) and lead to weak musculature and tightness that can cause back pain.
After warming up you’ll move into a series of yoga postures, though usually not a set routine. What sets Kripalu Yoga apart from other forms is its focus on releasing the prana (or life energy) that flows through us all, but is more often than not blocked by negative thoughts and experiences. Practising Kripalu Yoga aims to free this energy and teaches you how to apply this positivity to your daily life.
There are three distinct stages of Kripalu Yoga:
Beginners classes only include stage one, while more advanced classes may cover all three.
This type of yoga is suitable for all ages and is gentle enough for all fitness levels – senior or overweight yogis may find it especially good for them. It’s also particularly well suited to those who wish to work on both the body and the mind simultaneously.
This style of yoga inspired The Kripalu Centre in Massachusetts, although this venue has since become a more general yoga retreat.