With traditional beginnings in ancient yogic texts and literature, Kripalu yoga mainly developed from the teachings of Swami Kripalvananda. Amit Desai, a native of India and disciple of Swami Kripalu, brought the teachings to the United States in the 1960's and established the first Kripalu ashram in Pennsylvania. Swami Kripalu spent four years in this ashram, where he delivered a series of lectures to the senior teachers of Kripalu yoga.
Kripalu yoga is a more gentle form of Hatha yoga. It incorporates asana, breathing techniques, mudras and meditation, which draw the awareness to the sensations of the body, breath and mind. Kripalu yoga consists of three stages:
- A focus on proper alignment of the body where the poses are held for a short time
- A deepening of awareness to the sensations felt in the body as the poses are held for a longer time
- A more meditative state wherein the practitioner is guided by their intuitive knowledge and moves according to the flow of prana
Advanced Kripalu yoga asanas encompass all three stages of practice.