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Is Kripalu Yoga Still Relevant? by Karen

Is Kripalu Yoga Still Relevant? by Karen


reprinted from:


February 2008 E-News

Is Kripalu Yoga Still Relevant?
by Karen O'Donnell Clarke

This month there have been several KIN list posts asking: What is Kripalu yoga and is it still relevant in the world of power vinyasa and styles that appeal to young students of yoga?

I often sit with similar questions. What do students want? How can I deliver it in a way that honors my teaching style and the tradition from which I teach?  What I've learned is that it's not so much what I teach in terms of technique--it's how I teach. This is what distinguishes Kripalu Yoga from other styles.

If we focus only on asana, or what seems popular in the moment, we miss the opportunity to share the oldest and most comprehensive system of human development. We can teach a vigorous vinyasa class and incorporate the Kripalu teaching methodology of willful practice, holding the pose, moving into flow, or languaging BRFWA--breathe, relax, feel, watch, and allow.  We can focus on safety, physical and emotional, and still deliver the kind of class that students are looking for.

Sometimes I think it's not about the students at all, but the evolution of the teacher. In the 12 years that I've been teaching yoga, things have changed a lot. I've changed. I'm older and so are many of my students. I find that I'm teaching more students who are in their 40s and 50s, students who are stressed out for many reasons, including health challenges, and seniors.  Many of the seniors are quite happy in a gentle or mixed-levels class.

There is something special about Kripalu Yoga.  Kripalu trains teachers to be more than good students of asana. Kripalu teaches us how to be teachers. Sure, we learn asana and how to teach it safely. But we also learn how to create and hold the space for students to have their own experience. As Kripalu teachers, we are instruments for transformation--in body, mind, and spirit.