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.
The Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health
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 grow until 1994, 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 expanded its class offerings to include a wide array of yoga styles and wellness topics and to establish itself as a multi-dimensional retreat destination. These days, the center offers an extremely diverse course schedule featuring some of yoga's best-know teachers instructing weekend and week-long workshops as well as yoga, massage, and ayurvedic teacher trainings.
Kripalu is a gentle hatha yoga practice with a compassionate approach and emphasis on meditation, physical healing and spiritual transformation that overflows into daily life. In a Kriplau class, each student learns to find their own level of practice on a given day by looking inward. The classes usually begin with breathing exercises and gentle stretches followed by a series of individual poses and final relaxation. At the end of class, Kripalu teachers say jai bhagwan instead of namaste. The two terms have essentially the same meaning, but the former is in Hindi and the latter in Sanskrit.
Is Kripalu Yoga for You?
This yoga style will appeal to those who want to work on themselves, both physically and spiritually. The gentle and individualized approach make it a good choice for students who can benefit from an adaptive practice, such as people with arthritis, seniors and overweight people.