The Path of Inner Transformation
Yesterday I was talking to a friend of mine about Kriya Yoga, but I found it hard to explain exactly what it does. Actually, when we enter the world of dedicated yoga sadhana, or consistent practice, no amount of verbal explanation will ever do justice to the actual experience. This is simply because we begin to experience states of consciousness that are impossible to describe unless we experience them for ourselves.
However, I know that a lot of people are interested to know what it is and why one would want to do it. I certainly was determined to learn this yoga technique for almost 5 years - I was going to start 2 years ago but the pandemic put a stop to it. So, last year, I put all my other plans on the back burner so that I can dedicate time and effort to this course. I was not disappointed.
So let me tell you a bit about the Kriya Yoga...
What Is Kriya Yoga?
Kriya Yoga is a spiritual practice that is often associated with Kundalini Yoga. It is a powerful and transformative technique that aims to awaken the dormant spiritual energy known as Kundalini, which is located at the base of the spine.
The origins of Kriya Yoga can be traced back to ancient India, but it gained prominence in the 19th century through the teachings of the renowned yogi and spiritual master, Lahiri Mahasaya. One of the most famous proponents of Kriya Yoga in the modern era is Paramahansa Yogananda, who spread its teachings extensively in the West. You may be familiar with Yogananda through his book, "Autobiography of a Yogi".
Kriya Yoga is characterized by a series of specific breathing techniques, physical postures, and meditation practices that work together to purify and awaken the subtle energies within the body. It is believed that by practicing Kriya Yoga, one can accelerate their spiritual evolution and attain higher states of consciousness.
The key aspect of Kriya Yoga is the activation of the Kundalini energy, which is depicted as a coiled serpent at the base of the spine. Through the systematic practice of Kriya techniques, the Kundalini is gradually awakened and made to ascend through the central channel of the subtle energy system, known as the Sushumna Nadi. As the Kundalini rises, it cleanses and purifies the various energy centers or chakras along its path, leading to greater self-realization and spiritual growth.
Kriya Yoga places a significant emphasis on the breath. The practitioner learns various pranayama techniques, which involve specific patterns of inhalation, exhalation, and retention of breath. These breathing exercises help to regulate the flow of prana (life force energy) within the body and direct it towards the awakening of the Kundalini.
Why You Might Be Interested In Kriya Yoga?...
At its core, Kriya Yoga is a systematic and scientific approach to self-realization. It encompasses a unique blend of meditation, breath control, and spiritual techniques that work harmoniously to awaken dormant energies within the individual. Through the regular practice of Kriya Yoga, one can experience profound states of inner peace, expanded consciousness, and a deep connection to the divine. Here is why you might like to explore and consider this practice:
Efficiency: In our fast-paced world, time is a precious commodity. Kriya Yoga offers a highly efficient method of spiritual growth, as its techniques are specifically designed to accelerate the process of inner transformation. Through focused practice, one can experience profound shifts in consciousness and tap into a vast reservoir of untapped potential.
Access to Inner Peace: In the midst of life's challenges and uncertainties, cultivating inner peace becomes essential. Kriya Yoga empowers individuals to achieve a state of tranquility by harmonizing the mind, body, and spirit. Its techniques, such as pranayama (breath control) and meditation, provide a direct pathway to transcending mental and emotional turbulence.
Expanded Consciousness: Kriya Yoga facilitates the expansion of consciousness, allowing individuals to perceive reality beyond the limitations of the physical realm. As one progresses on the path, they can experience heightened intuition, clarity, and a profound sense of interconnectedness with all of creation.
Spiritual Awakening: Are you longing for a deeper connection to the divine? Kriya Yoga acts as a catalyst for spiritual awakening, helping individuals realize their true nature and unravel the mysteries of existence. It provides a framework for exploring profound spiritual truths and experiencing the divine presence within.
Two Paths of Kriya Yoga
While my personal experience lies within the Satyananda/Bihar School of Kriya Yoga, it is important to note that there is another well-known lineage that belongs to the Yogananda/Babaji tradition. While both approaches share the common goal of achieving spiritual awakening, they differ in their methods and techniques.
Within the Satyananda/Bihar School of Kriya Yoga, the journey toward spiritual awakening is carefully mapped out through a sequence of 20 Kriyas or actions. These Kriyas are a combination of pranayama (breath control) techniques, bandhas (energetic locks), mudras (body gestures), and mantras (sound vibrations). The Kriyas are designed to purify and harmonize the physical, energetic, mental, and spiritual aspects of the practitioner's being.
It is through this consistent and dedicated practice that the practitioner is gradually able to move beyond the limitations of the external world, embarking on a journey of self-discovery. The culmination of this journey is the state of dyana, also known as meditation or deep contemplation.
Yogananda/Babaji Tradition: A Different Approach to Kriya Yoga
The Yogananda/Babaji tradition of Kriya Yoga offers another path to self-realization and spiritual growth. Popularized by the renowned yogi Paramahansa Yogananda, this lineage emphasizes the teachings and practices transmitted by Mahavatar Babaji, the immortal yogi who reintroduced Kriya Yoga to the world.
While both Satyananda/Bihar School and Yogananda/Babaji traditions share the core principles of Kriya Yoga, they differ in their approach and techniques.
Choosing the Right Path for You
As you explore the realm of Kriya Yoga, it is important to find a path that resonates with your own spiritual journey and aspirations. Whether you are drawn to the systematic progression of the Satyananda/Bihar School or the spiritual teachings of the Yogananda/Babaji tradition, both paths offer valuable insights and techniques for self-transformation.
My Journey & Insights
I chose to adopt and was initiated into the Satayananda Kriya Yoga Tradition, which I studied at the Mandala Yoga Ashram in Mid Wales, UK. I can't recommend this ashram enough - it is a real gem for anyone who is interested in yoga and spirituality. Mandala Yoga Ashram is also the place where I studied to become a Yoga Teacher back in 2015.
Over the past year, I embarked on a soul-stirring adventure, immersing myself in the rich tapestry of Kriya Yoga. The techniques I learned from the Sataynanda Yoga Tradition encompassed a harmonious fusion of pranayama, bandhas, mudras, and mantras. Each Kriya presented a unique combination of these elements, unveiling hidden realms of spiritual growth and inner awakening.
I feel extremely privileged and grateful to have been initiated into this tradition.
The Commitment and Dedication Required
It is essential to acknowledge that the journey of Kriya Yoga demands a significant level of commitment and dedication. The daily practice of Kriya Yoga requires a minimum of 60 minutes, in addition to any asana (physical posture) practice one may already have. This commitment extends beyond mere physical discipline; it requires unwavering dedication on every level.
The regularity and consistency of practice are vital elements in harnessing the true potential of Kriya Yoga. By integrating these techniques into my daily routine, I found that they began to permeate every aspect of my life.
The Rewards of the Kriya Yoga Path
Despite the commitment required, the rewards of Kriya Yoga are immeasurable. The practices go beyond mere physical exercise or stress relief; they open doorways to spiritual growth and self-realization. Through the consistent cultivation of Kriya Yoga, I have experienced profound states of inner stillness, enhanced intuition, and a profound connection to the divine.
Kriya Yoga acts as a powerful catalyst for self-transformation, offering a pathway to unlock our limitless potential. On a very basic level of understanding, each one of the 20 kriyas is designed to affect the nervous and endocrine systems in a way that creates chemical changes in the body and affects communication between the neural pathways. In other words, it seamlessly rewires your nervous system and your brain, changing your perception of the world around you, and the way you think and feel.
Overall, these practices have the capacity to awaken the dormant faculties within us, leading to a heightened sense of joy, purpose, and spiritual awakening.
The Guiding Light of a Teacher and Community
While my personal journey through Kriya Yoga has been deeply rewarding, it is essential to acknowledge the invaluable guidance and support provided by experienced teachers at the Mandala Yoga Ashram and the supportive community of fellow practitioners.
Engaging with a community of like-minded people can create a nurturing environment for growth and inspiration. It is by sharing our experiences, insights, and struggles that we can uplift and support one another on any transformative journey.
The Bottom Line
If you find yourself drawn to the path of Kriya Yoga, there are a few prerequisites that I feel are necessary before you embark on this exciting and transformative journey.
First of all, it is important to have an established and consistent yoga practice/sadhana + discipline to prioritise and practice daily. This will also help in developing experiential understanding and knowledge of the energetic body and the chakra system. In addition, it will prepare and strengthen your nervous system for kriya practices.
Secondly, it is essential to seek guidance from a knowledgeable and experienced teacher or spiritual mentor + research and find a reputable ashram that offers kriya training. I do not recommend embarking on this journey without a mentor who has been through the training and has an established practice. Seeking out an experienced teacher and guide will offer invaluable insights, personalized instruction, and support along your transformative journey.
In the UK, I highly recommend the Mandala Yoga Ashram. Actually, I am not aware of any other ashrams or centers in the UK that offer training in kriya yoga. If you are based in Europe and not sure about your chosen course, I will be happy to offer advice - you can email me here.
Lastly, joining a community of like-minded practitioners can provide inspiration and a nurturing environment for growth.
Remember, the path of Kriya Yoga is not a quick fix or an instant solution. It requires dedication, discipline, and consistent practice. As you embark on this profound journey, embrace patience and perseverance, for the rewards are immeasurable.