Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health had its beginnings in 1966 when Yogi Amrit Desai founded the Yoga Society of Pennsylvania, a nonprofit organization providing yoga classes and training for yoga teachers. The name of the Society was later changed to Kripalu Yoga Fellowship ("Kripalu"), the nonprofit and charitable organization that still operates Kripalu Center.
Yogi Desai came from the small village of Halol in India. There, from the age of 15, he enjoyed a close personal relationship with his guru Swami Kripalvananda, for whom Kripalu Center is named.
Swami Kripalu is more commonly referred to as Bapuji, or "beloved grandfather." He was a highly renowned master of kundalini yoga as well as a moving speaker, prolific writer, and talented musician. Bapuji spent four years in America (1977-1981) where he taught and practiced intense yoga and meditation. His teachings still serve as the foundation of Kripalu's approach to yoga and spiritual life.
In 1972 the first Kripalu Yoga Ashram was established in Sumneytown, Pennsylvania and expanded to nearby Summit Station in 1975. Ashram is the traditional Indian name for a yoga center. Kripalu was run by a growing number of ashram residents. These residents were individuals of all ages and nationalities who shared a dedication to yoga practice and lived a simple communal life in service to Kripalu and its program guests. At Summit Station Kripalu expanded its offering of educational programs related to yoga and became a pioneer in the field of holistic health.
The facility that now houses Kripalu Center was originally built as a Jesuit seminary in 1957. Kripalu purchased the property in 1983 and countless hard-working residents renovated it into a comfortable yoga and spiritual retreat center that opened its doors to guests on December 1, 1983.
The 1980s were a time of growth and expansion for Kripalu. The number of full-time residents increased to 275. Over 10,000 guests visited Kripalu each year. In 1988 Kripalu formalized its legal status as a spiritual and volunteer organization modeled after the Hindu yoga ashram.
In 1994 Yogi Desai resigned as spiritual director of Kripalu. Kripalu is the first traditional yoga ashram founded on the guru-disciple model to transition to a new paradigm of spiritual education. This paradigm is designed to provide tools that help individuals access their inner wisdom and find support for their ongoing process of growth and spiritual development. Kripalu honors all traditional and contemporary spiritual teachings that support the individual's direct experience of Spirit.
Also see: A Brief History of Shadowbrook