Anatomy of a Kripalu Yoga Class

If you've ever wondered what goes into planning a yoga class, it will vary greatly by the instructor and style of practice.  Based on hundreds of yoga poses and variations and breath work, the class design possibilities are infinite. 

In a Kripalu yoga class, there's a specific structure that includes centering, warm ups, asana sequences, meditation and relaxation.  Designed to awaken a non-judgmental self-awareness, the Kripalu approach offers a safe, disciplined practice that combines Western science with Eastern philosophy to promote vitality. 

Overall, Kripalu yoga is known to be very gentle, so when Master Teacher Coby Kozlowski designed a Kripalu vinyasa structure, it needed to honor the integrity of the Kripalu philosophy, yet provide greater challenge for those who desire an active practice.  Kripalu Vinyasa was born out of a skillful approach that offers a meditation in motion through an evolving sequence that grows deeper within a selected theme.  Think slow burn.  Despite the slow flow, a Kripalu vinyasa class will certainly feel like a workout.

The word vinyasa is Sanskrit for "to place in a special way."  Traditional vinyasa style classes often move so quickly that the placement of body parts on the mat - whether hands, feet, seat - can distract from the experience of connecting mind and body.  Faster movement increases chance of injury...but we all want our cardio, right?  Let's face it - we all want to check "workout" off our daily task list...and perhaps practice meditation for enhanced self-care.  Kripalu vinyasa provides a generous detox through a good sweat and plenty of cardio challenge - and yet, it becomes a "work-in" through a melody of movements that evoke a feeling of turning inward.  A Kripalu vinyasa class actually allows you to check two tasks off your to do list:  workout and self care.

Beyond the Kripalu structure, the specific anatomy of a Kripalu Vinyasa includes practices from the four paths of yoga:  jnana - the path of wisdom and knowledge; hatha - path of physical connection; bhakti - path of love and devotion; and karma - the path of self-full service.  While these practices may be subconscious to most practitioners, what you will feel is the full body stretch from exercising multiple fascial lines through side bends, forward folds, backbends and twists in every class.  As with all yoga, the combination of breath with movement leads to self-transformation and self-discovery...empowering you to realize your full potential.

Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health offers trainings, programs and R&R activities for 60,000 visitors a year.  This summer, I completed two 75 hour training modules working toward a 500 hour yoga teacher training certification.  In the most recent vinyasa module, Coby surveyed the 30 yoga teachers in the room on injuries - and nearly everyone had sustained an injury at one time.  In fact, I had been nursing my own shoulder strain likely from too many chatarunga push-ups.  As my personal practice and training progressed this summer, my shoulder healed - and I am convinced of the safety of the Kripalu Vinyasa practice.  Instead of whipping through chatarungas to break a sweat, I am embracing the infinite possibilities to enjoy meditation in motion through creative sequencing without including the typical plank/chatarunga/up dog/down dog.  

As both a practitioner and instructor, I will always continue to explore the many styles of yoga...but my focus is sharing this unique class offering with the Northern Life Yoga community.  Planning a Kripalu vinyasa class exercises both my left and right sides of the brain with both structure and creativity - but most importantly, what I love is the way a Kripalu vinyasa class feels.  I invite you to experience the true meaning of vinyasa - to place in a special way - and then observe the effects on both your body and mind as you explore self-transformation and self-discovery.