by Richard Faulds Bantam, 2005 Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on Jul 17th 2007
Kripalu Yoga is based on the practice and ideas of Swami Kripalu (1913-1981). Author Richard Faulds has been associated with the Kripalu Center since 1981, and is currently chair of its Board of Trustees. He explains that Kripalu Yoga is a contemporary approach building on the mainstream yoga tradition. It has an emphasis on gentle practice and accommodating personal variations.
Faulds' book Kripalu Yoga has 23 chapters and is over 400 pages long. It has photographs of yoga postures all the way though, along with quotations from people talking about the benefits that Kripalu Yoga has brought them, and boxes written by other experts on how to practice the yoga. The writing style is simple and accessible for a general reader. The book would be a useful general introduction to most forms of yoga, since it emphasizes the connections between mind and body, the benefits of practicing yoga, and some of the main ideas about how yoga helps.
Those who are already somewhat familiar with yoga may want to skip or browse several chapters, because there is little here that is distinctive or surprising. For example, Faulds discusses the importance of being present on the mat, breathing, relaxing, pushing oneself intelligently to the edge of one's potential, and becoming stronger and more flexible through practice. Anyone who has done yoga for any length of time will recognize these ideas.
There's also discussion of the theories behind yoga, derived mainly from Eastern thought. A central concept is prana, which Faulds calls a life force, and says is equivalent to the Chinese concept of chi, the Greek concept of psyche, and the Roman concept of spiritus. This claim of equivalency is dubious, and this suggests that explanations of the book are extremely basic. Faulds goes on to discuss the chakra energy centers, listing their locations, elements, and colors. Those who prefer their biology and medicine to be based on evidence may find some of the claims here to be implausible, but the book does not really rest on these theories.
The practice instruction of the book is straightforward and helpful. Each series of postures is explained in clear steps and the photographs are done well. Since they are spread through the book interspersed with other text, it is not so easy to use the book as one is actually doing a yoga practice. The book will probably be most helpful to people who would use this book in conjunction with a Kripalu Yoga DVD.
Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Dowling College, Long Island. He is also editor of Metapsychology Online Reviews. His main research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.