Interview: Yoga of self-compassion


We share the world with a total of 7 billion people. It is expected for us to be faced with different characters everyday and by our experiences, it is common for us to judge others. We are easily influenced to negative emotions of others. Feelings of compassion for others are a part of our everyday lives and can help us rise above each difficult situation. Marije E. Paternotte explains about compassion in Kripalu Yoga.

What is Kripalu Yoga? What is the purpose of this type of Yoga?

Kripalu Yoga is based on the teachings of Swami Kripalu. According to Swami Kripalu, the highest form of Yoga is the practice of non-judgmental compassionate self-awareness.

The yoga postures (Asanas) that are practiced in a Kripalu Yoga class are not much different from any other yoga tradition. The focus of the practice however, is not to “perform” each posture perfectly as described in a book, but to find the right way for your body in that moment. This creates an opportunity for more self-awareness, and to be okay with yourself no matter where you’re at. Actually, Kripalu means “compassion”.

Each class starts with Pratapana (warm-ups) to prepare your body for the Asanas. This is a safe way to invite your body to go deeper into your practice. Classes range from gentle to vigorous, so there is a way of practicing Kripalu Yoga for everybody and every body.

What drew you to this type of Yoga?

When I started my yoga teacher training at the Kripalu Center for Yoga&Health in Massachusetts (which is the largest yoga center in Northern America) I had never taken a Kripalu Yoga class. I had read about the Kripalu Center in a yoga magazine, and a little voice inside me had told me that I should go there.

When I arrived it felt like coming home. Having practiced ballet at a professional level, I had always pushed my body to perform as perfectly as possible. At the beginning of the training I was invited to listen to my own body and feel what it needed. That was such a revelation. It was pretty emotional. Then, I knew I had chosen the right path of yoga.

What is the challenge that is commonly faced by your students in practicing Kripalu Yoga?

I don’t know if the challenge is necessarily different from any other type of yoga practice. Students say that they are not flexible enough so they think they are not good at yoga. Or they think they have to practice a lot before they will experience any benefit of their practice. I always tell them that is not true. Yoga is not about physical flexibility. As a matter of fact, I wrote a blog about that:

Another challenge that students sometimes face is when I invite them to move according to what their body wants, rather than listening to their mind “prescribing” to practice certain postures. I often see that students have no idea how to listen to their own body. So usually I offer this practice (which is called meditation-in-motion) to more experienced students, after they have learned to feel their own body during a guided yoga practice first.

What kind of benefits can participant achieve by joining this retreat?

This retreat offers a great opportunity to reduce stress by reconnecting with your Self. You will have the opportunity to learn how to listen to your body, so your mind is not always in charge. This will greatly enhance a sense of inner peace and will reduce stress. You will also be taught some practices to do at home, so you can maintain a relaxed state of mind also when you go back to your daily (work) life.

Practicing yoga at Gunung Kawi is one of the activities in the Divine Bali Bliss retreat. Why did you choose that place?

For me, this is the most beautiful temple on Bali. The energy in this place is very powerful and palpable, and there is something extraordinary about the huge carved-out statues. After the first time I went to the GunungKawi temple, which was an overwhelming experience, I met the man who is now my husband. I don’t mean to set any expectations, but I do feel that somehow those two experiences are connected.I think it will be amazing to practice and meditate in the special energy of this temple.

Who should join your retreat?

Anyone who wants to get away from the busy-ness of their day-to-day life, and who is ready for indulging in complete relaxation, pampering at the spa, some fun excursions and cultural activities. And of course practice some yoga!

If you are looking for a yoga practice that is only physical, you may not get what you want. Yet, maybe you will get exactly what you need if you join anyway. You may be surprised of the subtle power of Kripalu Yoga to transform body, mind and spirit!


Marije E. Paternotte (RYT-500) is an experienced retreat leader. Her teaching style is precise and compassionate, with a focus on safe anatomical alignment, and breath and body awareness. Marije enjoys teaching gentle, mindful yoga, as well as physically challenging classes. She always encourages her students to find their own yoga and witness themselves with compassion in order to discover who they truly are. She will be leading the:

Divine Bali Bliss Retreat

When: April 27 – May 3 , 2014, September 21 – 17 , 2014

Where: ONEWORLD retreats, Kumara

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *