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What Is Kripalu Yoga?

Kripalu yoga is a relatively new form of the ancient practice of yoga. According to some of its practitioners, it focuses on a kind of mind, body, energy paradigm. Where conventional and mainstream yoga has some specific purposes for meditative stability and centering the body and mind, Kripalu yoga takes this, in some senses, a few steps further.

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Kripalu yoga participants often talk about a "prana," which some interpret as "life force" but others might call a "pulse." Those who practice Kripalu yoga may focus on controlling this pulse, which some interpret as meaning the breath of the body. A related yoga term, pranayama, also refers to breathing and controlling its depth and rhythm as a critical part of conventional yoga practice.

History of Kripalu Yoga

Accounts of the development of this type of yoga place its origin in India, where much of the original yoga practices came from. Historical reports date the emergence of Kripalu yoga practices in the Western world in the 1960s, after a disciple of an Indian yogi, or teacher, brought some of his specific yoga teachings to the United States, and specifically, according to some sources, to the state of Pennsylvania.

Principles of Kripalu Yoga

As a specific yoga form, Kripalu yoga largely follows the established principles of an older Hatha yoga form. Hatha, a combination of the Hindi words for sun and moon, is a kind of opposite-energy yoga where the duality between opposing elements form symbolism that informs the yoga practices. Some also call Hatha a joining or yoking yoga. Its foundations include the "eight limbs" of conventional types of yoga, all of which coordinate to provide the participant with a kind of road map to elevated mind-body connection, and some of the health benefits generally attributed to yoga.

In addition, those who know about the specific kinds of practices in Kripalu yoga describe it as an inquiry based yoga form that promotes active thinking on and off of the yoga mat. Participants explain that Kripalu yoga promotes certain types of self-awareness that exist both during and in between yoga sessions, though perhaps in different forms.

Practicing Kripalu Yoga: The Asanas

The majority of yoga styles include primary attention to a collection of "asanas," or postures. Some types of yoga treat these as a sequential series, and others treat them more as a blended, flowing pattern of posture. Kripalu yoga includes much of the same focus on these asanas, with teachers helping students to correctly practice each of the poses to their best ability.

Why Do Kripalu Yoga?

In addition to some of the actual physical health benefits individuals get from practicing a range of postures, many of those looking to start a yoga routine are also looking for ways to deal with the stress of their daily life. Others are looking for solutions for positive thinking to combat a wide range of mental health concerns such as depression, anxiety and hyperactivity. Kripalu yoga can be a good choice for sustaining an individual in their quest for a healthier life both in mind and body. Look for elements of this yoga discipline in local classes or training options, as well as text and video materials, where individual beginners can choose yoga styles that they believe will be best for their mental, physical and spiritual needs.

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