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Kripalu's Non-sectarian Approach
to Yoga

Winter 1999

by Shobhan Richard Faulds


Ashtanga, Bikram, Pilates, restorative yoga, Viniyoga - all of these diverse yoga traditions are being taught and practiced by longtime Kripalu Yoga teachers these days. Even at the June KYTA Conference, a fair number of workshops featured other types of yoga. Where is the "Kripalu" in Kripalu Yoga? Have we lost our core?

It's a good question, and one that I'm pleased to be able to answer with an emphatic "No." While our program guide contains offerings from all the major schools of yoga and many of our prominent teachers are learning from other spiritual approaches, I see a Kripalu core that is very much alive and well.

What is that core?

  1. Encouraging self-sourcing and creating emotional and psychological safety. Our role as teachers is to support students in accessing their own source consciousness. One of the ways we do this is by teaching yoga within the safety of a bonded and caring group and by encouraging students to be compassionate toward themselves. Kripalu is a path with heart, and that heart energy is reflected in the personal qualities of our teachers and the learning environments they create.
  2. A respect for the body's limits and a focus on breathing and the internal experience of practice. We teach people a yoga they can practice wherever they happen to be in terms of flexibility and fitness. While proper alignment is important, the internal experience of yoga practice is far more important than the external goal of achieving the idealized posture.
  3. Attunement to energy and awakening prana. We teach people how to shift from the thinking center to the feeling center and thereby free up the flow of energy in their bodies. This includes the three stages of body and breath awareness, holding the posture, and meditation- in-motion. The increase in vitality and self-awareness that comes from Kripalu Yoga is a by-product of this free flow of energy.
  4. Yoga on and off the mat. The full expression of Kripalu Yoga is a way of being that allows us to embrace the divine mystery of life. It is much more than the practice of asana. Kripalu Yoga is about using the heightened awareness and deepened compassion that results from yoga practice to create a lifestyle supportive of our deepest identity and highest aspirations.

At this time in our society, a tremendous cross-pollination of yoga and other spiritual traditions is occurring. Kripalu has taken a non-sectarian approach, offering programs from all the world's spiritual traditions along with those of modern pioneers developing new approaches to human growth and development. We trust that individuals have the ability to choose the approach and experiences that will best promote their growth.

Simultaneously Kripalu is actively developing the depth of its unique approach to spiritual growth. An important part of that is our new 500-hour advanced training curriculum. We're also exploring other ways to make our unique Kripalu dharma available to the world. As KYTA members and Kripalu Yoga teachers, you're a big part of that. Thank you for being Kripalu in the world.

Shobhan Richard Faulds is President of the Kripalu Yoga Fellowship and teaches yoga at Kripalu Center.

Complete list of articles by this author:

Kripalu's Non-sectarian Approach to Yoga

The Path to Tantra: The first in a series of articles on the evolution of Kripalu Yoga

The sadhana of Swami Kripalu: The second in a series of articles on the evolution of Kripalu Yoga

Yogi Amrit Desai, originator of Kripalu Yoga: The third in a series of articles on the evolution of Kripalu Yoga

Professionals with Heart and Soul: Teaching Yoga in the "Yoga Boom"

Eastern tradition meets Western disciples: Co-creation in Kripalu's resident community

The yoga of communication: Leading groups the Kripalu way

Kripalu Yoga: A path of transformation

What distinguishes Kripalu Yoga?

Facets of transformative teaching

Looking back to move forward: The guru-disciple relationship

Students, mentors, midwives: A model for transformative teaching

The journey from known to unknown: The first in a series of articles on yoga's transformative process

Purifying body and mind

A Kripalu Yoga definition of enlightenment: The last in a series of articles on yoga's transformative process

Mastery in teaching

Swami Kripalu’s Inspiration for Yoga Teachers

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