Amrit Desai

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Fast Facts
Other Names and Nicknames: 
Yogi Amrit Desai
Yoga, Kripalu Yoga
Main Countries of Activity: 
Date of Birth: 
October 16, 1932
Place of Birth: 
Gujarat, India
In His/Her Body ("alive"): 
Other Related Gurus: 
Swami Kripalvandanda


Desai was born in the state of Gujarat in India in 1932. At the age of 16 he began training with his guru, Swami Kripalvananda.

In 1960, he went to the United States to study art in Philadelphia. While pursuing an art and design career in the United States, he also taught hatha yoga. In 1966, he 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, in honor of Swami Kripalvandanda. During his time with the Fellowship, Yogi Desai developed the yogic system popularly referred to as Kripalu Yoga.

After concluding that "holistic health" would be "an effective way to introduce yoga to people who needed it but were not yet open to its more traditional forms", in 1979 Desai started the Kripalu Center for Holistic Health in Lenox, Massachusetts. The organization continues to operate in Stockbridge, Massachusetts as a nonprofit entity under the name Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health.

Desai was married to Urmila Desai, who was co-author (with Amadea Morningstar) of The Ayurvedic Cookbook. She died in 2006 at the age of 69.

In 1994 Amrit Desai resigned from the organization he had founded. The organization, with 350 residents, had grown into a diverse entity with no clear cohesion. Consultants indicated that he was remarkably unique in that he so willingly turned over control of the entity he founded. Desai suggested sexual restraint for those living in the yoga facility. He never condemned those who did not conform to the restraint rules developed by the residents. He was himself married to Urmila Desai and the father of three children. From time to time, in accordance with his tradition, he and his wife would commit to periods of celibacy. In 1994 a women came forth to acknowledge that she had reframed consensual sexual contact with Amrit Desai into abuse by a powerful figure and was seeking money damages. When the women came forth, he acknowledged that the contact had taken place. Three others made similar claims. Each time he acknowledged the contact. A fifth women acknowledged contact, but refused to claim money damages. Kripalu Center was a not for profit religious order well represented by lawyers and accountants. He was advised to create a corporate entity so as to develop a retirement fund. He received payment as the spiritual director of Kripalu and the details were well known. Those who joined the religious order were clearly informed of limited compensation available to residents, who were provided with medical insurance, a pool of vehicles, room and board, along with other benefits. Having left the Kripalu Center, Desai now teaches in Florida at the Amrit Yoga Institute in Salt Springs, FL


The initiation Gurudev received from Bapuji led to an awakening that totally transformed his life and infused his teachings, making him the carrier of this ancient, mystical Lineage of Lord Lakulish and Swami Kripalu to the Western world. The unique approach he called Kripalu Yoga, Meditation in Motion, shattered the notion of yoga as solely a physical discipline and opened a way for practitioners to access the liberation of consciousness.

Gurudev refined the core principles of Kripalu Yoga into the Amrit Method®, an innovative, experiential and synergistic system that allows practitioners to use the challenges of modern life as opportunities to awaken consciousness. Amrit Method practices enable even the novice student to experience the deepest levels of tranquility and stillness and enter into harmony with whatever life brings.

Kripalu and Amrit Method practices are now taught by more than 5,000 certified teachers in 40 countries. Gurudev has authored many books, articles, and essays and continues to teach today, constantly developing his approach in order to make these practices easily accessible for the benefit of all. It is a rare and special privilege to study with a living yoga master, to be so close to the source of this powerful lineage of Shaktipat Kundalini Yoga, and to perpetuate its potential through our own sadhana and service.


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