Amrit Desai, the yogi formerly (and sometimes still) known as Gurudev, is a figure both larger than life and startlingly human. Born in India, he came to the U.S. during the 1960s and pioneered Kripalu Yoga — a moving meditation and heath practice that grew to encompass one of the largest spiritual centers in the country. That center, known as Kripalu, still trains practitioners and offers retreats and healing arts programs in Lennox, Mass.
Despite the popularity of the center, Desai is no longer associated with it. He left Kripalu in the 1990s during a scandal that estranged him from many of his followers. The yogi’s life and works prior to that scandal are lovingly documented in the book, Gurudev: The Life of Yogi Amrit Desai (Kripalu, 1982) by Sukanya Warren. The slim read is filled with sunny 1970s-era photos and happy stories of the guru known for his ability to awaken powerful kundalini shakti (sacred energy) in his followers.
During the last two decades, Desai has been rebuilding his following and continuing his teachings at his Salt Springs, Fla.-based Amrit Yoga Institute. As part of his 2008 calendar, he will lead satsang (a spiritual gathering or service) and offer a lecture at Namaste. The Friday evening event kicks off the Yoga Nidra weekend-long retreat “Discover the Healing Secrets of the Amrit Method® with Gurudev” ($180 in advance / $225 weekend).
For those looking to meet the yogic master prior to a full-weekend study, the one-night satsang, Friday, Mar. 21, 7-9 p.m., offers that opportunity. $20 in advance, $25 evening of the event. Info: email@example.com or 253-6985.