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What is Kripalu Bodywork?

Updated Feb 24, 2024
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Kripalu Bodywork, or more commonly, The Kripalu Body Workout, is a massage or yoga-like technique that shares characteristics with Kripalu Yoga. It concentrates on massage and breathing techniques and seeks to promote relaxation, psychological growth and spiritual well-being. The workout draws on Swedish massage and is said to relieve physical and mental stresses and tensions, increase and facilitate the flow of nutrients to muscles, organs and joints, and encourage the movement of lymph around the body. It’s very much a holistic technique and along with this tradition of massage and relaxation, marries the traditions found in Yoga and Tantra.

The Kripalu Body Workout system was inspired by Sri Kripalvananda, otherwise known as Bapuji, and originated in 1966 with the Indians Amrit Desai and Swami Kripalu. The former visited the United States in the 1960s to take up a place at the Philadelphia College of Art. During his time in Philadelphia, he began to teach yoga to the natives and was so successful he soon founded The Yoga Society of Pennsylvania. The Kripalu philosophy has grown steadily since its inception and boasts 750 educational programs and has in excess of 250,000 people attending its spiritual retreats and seminars each year.

Kripalu Body Workout draws heavily on the Yoga tradition and is particularly associated with the "limbs" of Yoga practice known as Pratyahara (withdrawal of senses) and Dhyana (meditation). The Kripalu system also incorporates the regular Yoga techniques that are classics of the Yoga tradition such as asanas and pranayama (breathwork). The breathwork aspect is integral to the Kripalu Body Workout because it encourages the body and mind to slow to a pace and rhythm that is conducive to the deep meditation state that leads the practitioner along the Tantric path. Practiced meditators in the Kripalu tradition can hone this skill to a degree that affords them access to transcendent states.

The Kripalu system has adherents and retreats around the world but the biggest of its facilities and the greatest concentration of its members are to be found at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Lenox, Massachusetts in the United States. The facility is a converted Jesuit Seminary in the Berkshire Mountains and can accommodate 300 guests and welcomes around 15,000 per year. Prices at the center range from $125 US Dollars for a dorm to $160 USD for a double and more comfortable room.

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