Kripalu Yoga: The Willful Practice

An introduction to Kripalu yoga, its benefits, principals and Prana.


By Kathy Lambert


The wisdom on which our life depends is the wisdom of what the yogis call "prana." Prana is the life force within us that activates all the functions of the body. Prana’s wisdom is known by many names; body instinct, Wisdom of the body, inner voice, involuntary nervous system, intuition and inner guidance. Whatever name we choose, the wisdom of prana is far superior to any other knowledge that we have today and science has yet to fully comprehend it or reproduce what it accomplishes daily in our bodies.


As well as carrying our essential life functions without our conscious direction, prana can also help us accomplish functions that require conscious decisions - when and how much to eat or sleep, for example. Prana speaks to us through our inner sense of knowing what is right or wrong for our bodies at any given time. But it can be ignored, and many of us have ignored it for so long that it has become a lost language.


Most of us have experienced moments where we were more attached to completing the distance of a run than listening to the clear messages of our bodies. The result might have been an injury to a hamstring or quad. As that injury heals, how many of us can relate to the impatient mind justifying why we should or how we could be ready to start running again right now, regardless of the body’s condition. In this case, pain is life’s messenger and prana’s language.


If we do not listen to prana, we miss the opportunity to experience balance and harmony; our natural state. If we ignore prana habitually, we create a state of dis-ease in the body; disharmony between body, mind, and emotions. When our prana is depleted, we can become restless and negative in our outlook on life. Zest, energy and vitality can become limited and creativity and imagination can become impaired. Faced with this condition, prana will seek to restore us to ease, but only our listening and responding will make healing possible. The source of health is nowhere else but within us.


The purpose of Kripalu Yoga is beyond having a finely-tuned body and calm perceptive mind. It is to experience the merging of all aspects of ourselves - body, mind, and emotions - by learning how to attune to prana and listen to the wisdom of the healer within us.

Kathy demonstrates a posture called the "Boat"

The student of Kripalu Yoga begins to enhance the working relationship between body and mind in the very first level; the Willful Practice. The main focus of the first level is to develop the physical techniques of Hatha Yoga postures and breathing techniques called Pranayama, or control of the life force through the breath. While the physical benefits are not the exclusive purpose of Kripalu Yoga, the practice does begin with them recognizing that physical health is the very foundation of the unifying experience. In Level One, the student learns to pay precise attention to the alignment and details of the postures consciously, not forcefully. He learns self-acceptance by removing disturbing thoughts of self-criticism, comparison and competition. He learns to honor the limitations that are present in his body. And he learns to recognize the subtle urges and sensations present in his body and, consequently, deepens his connection with himself. Prana in the body is intensified by each one of these practices and therefore more energy is available for tangible use in the student’s life.

Jai Bhagwhan. I honor the highest in you.

Kathy Lambert is a Kripalu yoga instructor and now lives in Colorado. If you are interested in yoga in the North Alabama area you can contact Tom at 205-533-0671 or Angela at 205-464-0763. This article was provided for Huntsville Athlete magazine and all pictures are file photos.

All pages copyright R-Sports and Sharp Enterprises. Permission granted to print complete pages only, which includes advertising and this notice. Any other form or use is infringement on this copyright. For more information call 205-536-0690.

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