The Kripalu Approach: Activating Compassion and Will to Create Small, Powerful Changes

The Kripalu Approach has been developed over decades, in workshops off the mat and in yoga classes on the mat. Thousands of students and classes later, our approach to living emerges as unique, specific, and profoundly transformational; it informs our way of being in the world.

Rooted in the idea of Self-Observation Without Judgment, our model has two primary pillars: radical compassion and the right use of will. These two elements, practiced together, can create sustainable life change in any arena.

This model does more than modify behavior; it transforms, at the core, the issues that drive us. For example, in The Kripalu Approach to Healthy Weight, the real question becomes not How can I change my eating habits? but rather What am I really hungry for? Our relationship with food can express deeper aspects of our process.

Radical Compassion

Cultivating the capacity to notice our behavior, without judgment or expectation, both on and off the mat, opens the doorway to unlimited possibility. Compassion is the key. No change—whether it’s around diet, exercise, yoga practice, lifestyle, or relationship—can be sustained through self-discipline alone. Yes, the will is needed, yet our actions must be grounded in radical acceptance.

Our human flaws, when embraced with relaxed ease, become the doorway to our true nature. Through the lens of compassion, we quiet our minds and allow our inner wisdom to emerge to support and generate transformation change.

Right Use of Will

The right use of will is the second essential piece in this model. Obviously, if you want something to be different, you have to change your behavior. How do we best take actions that realign us with this flow of energy and aid us in continuing to access our hearts?

Neuroscience tells us that consistency is the driver of brain change, that just five to seven minutes of meditation, done regularly, alters the chemistry of the brain. So often, we overcommit and focus only on the outcome of our experiment. We lose both patience for and sight of the journey itself. That inspiration returns when we instead choose to do less, get quiet, and relax the push around practice. This isn’t easy—we are such human do-ers! Returning to human beingness realigns us.

Small, Powerful Changes

The Kripalu Approach acknowledges small, incremental changes, practiced consistently, as the profound stepping stones of true transformation. There is no getting it “right,” no checking things off your to-do list. This is a relaxed yet rigorous journey that cultivates compassion, curiosity, and fascination with your process. For example, in crafting this article, it dawned on me that I could utilize the Kripalu Approach in writing it. As I practiced breathing, relaxing, and being present with my ever-changing attitude (willingness, excitement, resistance, or dread), I found that relaxation and breath were the key to moving forward.

The Kripalu Approach is one of mindful experimentation. Breathe. Relax. Feel. Watch. Allow. Show up just as you are. As your actions come into unity with your intentions, all change becomes possible.

Aruni Nan Futuronsky is a Kripalu Yoga teacher, life coach, and Legacy Faculty member for Kripalu R&R and Kripalu programs.

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