YS 128 | Kaḷarippayaṟṟ˘: Embodying the Cosmic Wind

Available for Self-Study


Course Description

Kaḷarippayaṟṟ˘ is a ritually transmitted martial art with an allied medical system which originated in South India in the Malabar region of present-day Kerala. The word kaḷarippayaṟṟ˘ is a Malayalam compound made up of payaṟṟ˘, signifying practice, and kaḷari, a polyvalent term that here refers to the place of practice. This training space is a ritually prescribed shrine with installed deities in the wider tradition of Kerala Tantra (Muslim and Christian kaḷaris were also important in Kerala’s history, but are not the focus of this course).

Historically important in Kerala’s social and artistic life, kaḷarippayaṟṟ˘ has a sophisticated conception of the body which underpins the methodology of its practice. While in modern times it has been adopted by performing artists and yoga practitioners in India and beyond, historically in Kerala it was used not only to train future warriors but also performing artists, most famously in kathakali. Kaḷarippayaṟṟ˘ was part of the education of children across social groups in medieval Kerala, girls as well as boys, and there are several stories of elite female practitioners.

This course is aimed at anyone with an interest in the moving body in the Indic context. It assumes no prior knowledge and will work with a range of materials suitable to different learning styles and preferences. We will begin by defining kaḷarippayaṟṟ˘ and situating it in its historical, social and religious context. We will explore how the tradition understands and defines the kaḷari body, and how this conception of the body underpins its practice. In particular we look at the focus on harnessing vāyu, the inner wind that is both subtle and cosmic in nature. We look at some of the texts of kaḷarippayaṟṟ˘ and what they have to say about posture (which opens into questions of similarity or divergence from yogāsana). We will also interrogate how kaḷarippayaṟṟ˘ knowledge is transmitted, and what happened in its twentieth century revival.

Course Preview

Video Poster Image

Course Modules

Students Will Receive: 

  • 4 Pre-recorded Video + Audio lectures (90 min)
  • 4 Pre-recorded Q&A sessions (90 min)
  • 4 ACP Credits
  • 12 Hours of CE credit with YA
  • Course Syllabus (PDF)
  • Weekly Readings (PDF)
  • 4 Multiple Choice Quizzes
  • Yogic Studies Certificate (PDF)
  • Access to the private Community Forum

Lucy May Constantini

Ph.D. Candidate, Open University, U.K.

Lucy May Constantini is a dance-artist turned scholar who first encountered the South Indian martial art kaḷarippayaṟṟ˘ in 2002 during a residential dance workshop in South India. She went on to train extensively in kaḷarippayaṟṟ˘ at CVN Kalari Sangham in Thiruvananthapuram. In 2012 she was initiated into and apprenticed in kaḷaricikilsa, kaḷarippayaṟṟ˘’s therapeutic system. She was awarded with distinction a masters in South Asia Area Studies from SOAS, University of London in 2018, and recently submitted her PhD thesis in the School of Religious Studies at the Open University in the UK. This was funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Open-Oxford-Cambridge Doctoral Training Partnership and supported by the École française d'Extrême-Orient in Pondicherry. Lucy’s research was co-created with the lineage-holder of CVN Kalari Sangham and explores the relationship between practice and textual traditions in kaḷarippayaṟṟ˘. Her interdisciplinary research encompasses ethnography, drawing on the relationship since 2002 with CVN Kalari in Thiruvananthapuram, and the study of manuscripts in Malayalam. Her research methodology draws on her background in dance and somatic practices, where her work investigates the confluence of her praxes of postmodern dance, martial arts and yoga.

Enrollment is OPEN

Regular Tuition


One-Time Payment

  • Lifetime access to YS 128

Regular Tuition

$88 x 2

Two Monthly Payments

  • Lifetime access to YS 128

Membership Program


Monthly Subscription

  • Access to YS 128
  • Access to all YS + BS courses—including live and future courses 

  • Access to SKT 100a + SKT 100b

  • Access to YS Book Club

This course is eligible for 12 hours of Continued Education (CE) credits with Yoga Alliance

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