The Kripalu Effect

Cover your ears if you are sensitive to TMI, but there exists something called the “Kripalu Effect”.  The first signs are eating way too much at their delicious and nutritious meals in their dining hall.  Then you begin to feel the bloated “I’ve eaten too many beans and veggies” feeling, which could last all weekend.  But once you and your stomach settle, the real “Kripalu Effect” occurs.  For me, it is the feeling of arriving home.  The tension that I didn’t even know was there, starts to melt off of me like the winter snow.  My thoughts become clearer and my eyes open up to the splendor and beauty all around me including the divine individuals surrounding me.

Some may say that we have drunk the “Koolaid” and that may be true. But as these feelings of homecoming and groundedness fill my being, I know that I am closer to my true essence.  It’s incredible to think how many layers or walls we build up against ourself.  I am very fortunate to have Kripalu as my home away from home and to have opportunities to be part of programs like Jillian Pransky’s Winter Retreat.  I strive to continue the work that began this weekend noticing and then uncovering those layers that I build unconsciously.

The return home was a monumental as the trip there.  Jillian gave us a Intention ritual to do at home which involved writing down what we are grateful for in the past year, what doesn’t serve us anymore, and what you would like to focus your energy on more.

Taking inspiration from this ritual, try this at home. Light a candle in the safe place that you can sit in front of. Take a few deep breaths to settle in, root your bottom on your floor or cushion. Welcome yourself right then and there.  Have a journal handy for writing your responses to these questions:

  • what you are grateful for in the past year
  • what doesn’t serve you anymore
  • what you would like to focus your energy on more

Safely burn your journal page or card over the candle which serves as a blessing and as a tool for transformation.  If you have sage, which clears stagnant negative energy, in your body, mind and spirit as well as your surroundings, burn this as you walk around your space smudging.

Take a tour of Kripalu and the beaming face of Carmen. A blissful state….

Pranayama (Breath)

Alternate Nostril Breath (Nadi Shodhana)

Alternate Nostril Breath

This breath invites the calm in, balancing both sides of our nasal passages and our brain.  We tend to breath predominately with either the left or right nasal passage and we become unbalanced.  A few minutes at the start of a class or practice, can merge the two hemispheres of the brain and allow you to become more receptive.

Breathing through the right or left nostrils gives different effects.
Right Nostril
increases heart rate, increases verbal performance, stimulates left brain, increases rate of blinking
Left Nostril decreases heart rate, increases spatial performance, stimulates right brain, reduces rate of blinking,
Extended Breath Practice
Take a long breath in and a long breath out then two regular breaths. This is one cycle.
Continue this pattern for 9 more cycles, for a total of 10.
Observe how you feel both during the practice and afterwards.  Notice the pace, the tension or calm areas of your body, your thoughts and emotions and anything else that comes up for you.
The Practice: Find a comfortable seat or laying down.  Using the right hand, bring the middle and index fingers to rest toward the palm.  Alternatively, they can be placed at your third eye (forehead area). Begin with even breaths through both nostrils, gently close off right nostril, then inhale through left nostril and exhale through the right nostril.  Gently close off left nostril, as you inhale through right and exhale through left. Keep the same count for both sides. That is one round.  Repeat for 5 to 6 rounds or more.  Tongue comes to rest on roof of mouth.
Other variations of this breath are:

Retaining the breath after the inhale while keeping both nostrils gently closed.

  • Extending the exhale longer than inhale
  • Cessation of breath after the exhale, with only one nostril closed


Supported Fish Pose

Props: blankets or bolster, depending upon the amount of opening you desire. Neck roll, eye pillow.
Benefits:stretches the chest wall muscles, releases tightness in the shoulders and low back. Starts to balance nervous system.
Lay two blankets on top of each other or one bolster, add a blanket for sitting on when using the bolster. With bent legs, begin to lower yourself down on to the props while elongating the spine. Leg position can be bent as seen in photo or straight legs or even bound angle with soles of the feet together. Find a comfortable position for arms either by your side or in Goddess position. Adjust neck roll to blankets to support the cervical space.Modify as needed with a chair or in a straddle position.

Belly Down Twist

Props: bolster, two blocks, at least 3 blankets
Benefits: chest and hip opener, massages the organs in twist, opens the side body. Comforting.

Place the blocks on mat, one lower height, one higher then lay the bolster on blocks at an incline. Fold two blankets for arm supports on either side of the bolster and add a blanket to sit on.  Place right hip at lower end of bolster and on an inhale, lengthen the spine while lowering the body towards the bolster, gently turn your belly towards the bolster. Bend knees and stack legs. Arms rest on the supports by your side.  Begin with conscious breathing to settle into the pose and as sensations rise and fall, adjust your breath. Relax the weight of your body into the supports.