Introduction to Kriya Yoga
By Dr Indira Anand
The origin of kriya yoga is lost in the ancient past because it was kept so secret. It is said to have been reintroduced by the great yogi Babaji as the ideal practice for sincere seekers of wisdom especially in the present Kali Yuga.
The Sanskrit word kriya means ‘action’ or ‘movement’. Kriya yoga is so called because it is a system where one intentionally rotates one’s attention along fixed pathways. Also, it is so called because one moves the body into specified mudras, bandhas, asanas according to a fixed scheme of practice. Kriya also means ‘practice’ or practical and kriya yoga is concerned solely with practice, without the slightest philosophical interpretation. The system is designed to bring results not merely to talk about them.
It is a practice which first leads to dharana (one-pointed awareness) and eventually to the transcendental state of dhyana (meditation) and yoga (union).
The process of kriya yoga consists of a number of kriyas (practices), each being done one after the other in a fixed sequence.
Kriya yoga is a very sophisticated method of harmonising and synchronising the natural forces and energies of one’s being. The physical, psychic and mental forces are brought into line with each other so that they flow together in a constant, powerful stream making one very sensitive to the deeper aspects of one’s inner nature.
The practices of kriya yoga follow a specific plan and can be divided into 3 distinct groups. These groups combined together systematically induce:
- Pratyahara (sense withdrawal)
- Dharana (concentration)
- Dhyana (meditation)
The whole process is progressive and natural. Without mastery of pratyahara it is impossible to induce dharana and without dharana, it is not possible to reach the stage of dhyana. In order to induce pratyahara, one must be firmly fixed on the sushumna path, lost neither in the ida nor pingala dimension of being.
The induction of pratyahara depends on regularity and intensity of practice, as well as on the state of turmoil or calmness in your mind. Pratyahara can be easily and automatically induced in a calm mind.
In the early practices, the eyes are kept open for some time and then closed for some time. This allows one’s awareness to tread the middle path between introversion and extroversion.
When pratyahara practices are finished, then the eyes are kept closed for the second groups of kriyas to induce dharana. As the kriya practice progresses one’s awareness is confined more and more so that it becomes increasingly one-pointed and dharana arises spontaneously.
The distinctive feature of kriya yoga is that concentration is not forced, it spontaneously arises as a consequence of performing the mechanics of the kriyas.
Dhyana: I have nothing to say about dhyana, for it is the realm of the unspeakable. When it is known, no words are needed. Before it is experienced words will only cause confusion, misconception and over-intellectualisation. There are no techniques for dhyana, all the techniques of kriya yoga are intended to bring about the state of dhyana.
The Tools of Kriya Yoga
There are six groups of techniques which are the building blocks of the kriyas:
- Psychic passage awareness (a vital aspect of kriya yoga practice)
They are combined together in a scientific and specific manner in order to bring about changes in one’s being. It was discovered by ancient yogis through their personal experience that integration, synchronisation and the blending of specific techniques can lead to a vast increase in the power of the techniques. It is said that when they are combined they become irresistible yogic bulldozers. It is these unique combinations that make kriya yoga such a powerful system which helps to transmute one’s being into a sensitive yet powerful system of perception.
Sequence and Duration
Each kriya has an intimate relationship with the preceding and subsequent kriya. Each kriya influences the other kriyas in a specific manner, therefore the order in which they are practised is most important. If they are done in the wrong order, then kriya yoga will either fail to produce results or, even worse, it may lead to negative results.
Each kriya also has a fixed duration or number of rounds which have been found to be the ideal for optimum results. Nothing in the system is arbitrary therefore try to practise each kriya for the prescribed duration and in the correct sequence.
Kriya yoga should be done for the joy of doing the kriyas. If it becomes too much of a chore, then it would be difficult to obtain the best results. It is said that if you can adopt the attitude of purposelessness through purpose and effortlessness through effort, then you are on the right track. Try not to intellectualise the practices. This will hamper the transforming power of kriya yoga acting on you. Just practise and the answers will come in their own time. The less you expect the quicker you will reach. When you are empty you will be filled to the brim. There should be no expectation of spiritual experience, for expectation means ego and ego does not allow dhyana to arise.
Note: Kriya yoga practices are likely to increase the digestive fire and metabolic rate therefore one must be careful with diet to prevent loss of weight.