a technique for life-force control and Self-realization
Kriya Yoga refers to actions designed to get rid of obstructions
involving body and mind. Kriya Yoga is a complete system covering
a wide range of techniques, including mantras and techniques
of meditation for control of the life-force, bringing calmness
and control of both body and mind. The goal is to unite with
pure Awareness (God). Since pure Awareness is our original
condition, it is also referred to as Self-awareness.
Around 1920, Paramahansa Yogananda introduced Kriya Yoga
to the West and founded the Self-Realization Fellowship. Yogananda
demonstrated his extraordinary abilities even after his Maha-Samadhi
which he had announced ahead of time. The Mortuary Director
of Forest Lawn Memorial-Park testified in a notarized letter:
"The absence of any visual signs of decay in the dead body
of Yogananda offers the most extraordinary case in our experience."
The letter continues that twenty days after Yogananda's passing,
his body looked as fresh as on the day of his final exit on
March 7, 1952.
A brief introduction to the techniques of Kriya Yoga:
1. Preparing the body
To promote health and gain a certain control over body functions,
some practice Hatha Yoga. Others, who are not that flexible
or are restricted in time, are content with a 15 minute program
of easier exercises, consisting of stretching and bending,
designed by Yogananda for maximum result.
2. Preparing the mind
Kriya Yoga is said to be a combination of the more useful
Yoga techniques. Like Radja Yoga, Kriya teaches the laws of
general conduct (yama and niyama), including harmlessness,
truthfulness, non-stealing, etc. Kriya promotes the study
of metaphysical principles, physical and mental health, cleanliness
For the purpose of practicing Meditation, Mantras are
introduced. Lessons or initiation teach the seeker how to
use Mantras like So-ham, Ham-sa, Hong-so, and OM.
4. Life-force control (pranayama)
At this point the difference to other systems, like Radja
Yoga, becomes quite obvious. Kriya pranayama is not as much
about increasing the time of retention of breath but to magnetize
the spine and direct life-force to the brain with the effect
to refine the brain and nervous system.
5. Initiation and Shaktipat (transfer of energy)
The seeker is initiated in the proper use of Kriya pranayama.
When the seeker is ready, a transfer of energy might occur
either from the outside or from within. To experience Kundalini
(energy) on its way up the spine is an event powerful enough
to change the way we think and function.
Mudras are added to gain even more control over the flow of
7. Higher Kriyas
For advanced students there are still a few higher Kriya techniques.
However, full Self-realization may already be gained by practicing
faithfully the Mantras given for regular Meditation.
What is Life-force or Prana?
Life-force, or Prana as Yogis call it, is the energy of Awareness.
Energy and Awareness are the two sides of the same coin which
is the basis of the whole universe. When all matter is destroyed,
energy is what remains. Energy is the original form of all
matter. Awareness is the other original since no dead matter
nor life-less energy could have produced Awareness, as the
materialists and atheists have us believe, unless Awareness
was already inherent. An important aspect of any Yoga system
is to balance the negative and the positive currents of this
energy. One of the best methods to balance these currents
is called 'Alternate Nostril Breathing' (nadi shodhana).
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