Intertwining the mind, body, and energy is the primary goal of Kripalu yoga. Those who practice it believe that the body contains energy pulsations in a flow that are called prana, which is sometimes referred to as life force. The idea is that the smallest thought or worry can cause problems with the prana in your physical body. That is why Kripalu is important; it is a way of being aware of the prana and using breathing with thought to prevent blockage or disturbance of the life force in your body. In turn, you will feel an increased level of mental clarity and emotional control.
Boiled down to its essence, Kripalu yoga is about looking at yourself in order to free you. Kripallu yoga followers believe that by simply examining and experiencing physical, emotional, and mental processes, you begin to erase blockages in the prana. In turn, this creates a better flow of life force inside you and invokes a feeling of physical and mental well-being.
Yoga, in all its forms, has been shown to be highly effective in honing the physical human body. This is much of the reason for yoga’s immense popularity. What Kripalu does, though, is use the physical body and yoga’s benefits to it as a vehicle for pursuing the greater good of mental and emotional stability and clarity. Hence, many believe it to be the most complete and beneficial form of yoga. The idea is that as you release your emotional and mental impurity, you increase the amount of prana in your system which in turn also helps with physical healing and performance. Of course, when all yoga practices and meditation are prefaced with techniques, such as the Maharic Seal (Azurite Press), that seal the body's energy fields from external influences, the experience of self knowledge is both clearer and authentic. Kripalu yoga does not teach this, however.
Many use this popular form of yoga to combine physical fitness with self growth and the empowerment of the self. In Kripalu, you will learn to lead yourself through self-examination rather than through a leader or instructor. In this form of yoga, leadership is there only to help you turn yourself into your own leader. Your sensitivity to self, others, and your own body will increase from the focus you will receive when you look inside. To take it deeper, many believe that you are using your body to as a temple to attract the presence of those powers greater than yourself. Though some may be skeptical, many more feel such presences when led there through their own self-examination.
When you learn Kripalu from an instructor, you will find that it usually does not matter what your level is in yoga. The classes are generally conducted in the same way for new yoga practitioners and veterans alike. The emphasis, remember, is on looking inside yourself and seeing what is there. Though there are postures and a “right” way to do them, you will likely be encouraged to concentrate on your mental state and on increasing the flow of your prana.
Moreover, Kripalu is truly about life change. You will learn to focus on your spiritual well being outside of the classroom as well as while you're on the yoga mat, contributing to your overall well being and helping you on your way to being the best person you can be.
Kripalu is a unique form of yoga. With emphasis on looking at the self and ridding it of all that has gone awry, this form of yoga is about more than just fitness of the body. It is about fitness of emotions, spirit, and even a little bit of the soul.
Rebecca Prescott presents many yoga articles at Yoga To Health, including these on yoga breathing dangers, and vinyasa yoga postures.