Kriya Yoga is a somewhat more recent interpretation of the yogic system and its practice. Several great yogis explained and revealed this concept during the 19th and 20th centuries; a concept that in turn draws on the ancient texts of the Yoga Sutras of the Patanjali. The system of Kriya Yoga refers to a set of directions and ‘kriyas’ that help to enhance our spiritual development and help us communicate with the almighty.
The yogis who propounded the practice of Kriya Yoga
According to disciples and others, Saint and Yogi Mahavatar Babaji was thought to have lived in the hard to access regions of the Himalayas for hundreds of years and revealed himself only to a small number of his shishyas. It is thought that the ancient system of Kriya Yoga was revived and explained by Mahavatar Babaji and later transmitted to his disciple Lahiri Mahasaya (Shyama Charan Lahiri) who extrapolated further on the matter. Kriya Yoga was then transmitted to others in India and also popularized in the West by famous yoga guru Paramhansa Yogananda, particularly via his book Autobiography of a Yogi where he speaks of Kriya Yoga as well as his interactions with Mahavatar Babaji.
What is Kriya Yoga?
Kriya Yoga is a system of practices that concerns itself with one’s spiritual development; with the attainment of inner peace and ultimately becoming one with the creator. It consists of certain mantras, Pranayam and mudras. As described by Paramhansa Yogananda, this type of yoga is governed by a set of clear rules and is transmitted from Guru to disciple after an initiation ceremony.
Kriya yoga is the practice of concentrating and directing life energies to move in upward or downward directions along the body’s spinal centers and plexuses such as the medulla, cervical, dorsal, lumbar, sacral and coccyx. The revolution of energy around the spine is thought to enhance the evolution of one’s soul and enhance spiritual self discovery.
Practically, Kriya yoga consists of certain energizing exercises and meditation or concentration techniques that are aimed at the ultimate goal of self realization. According to the writings of Paramhansa Yogananda, the yogi should practice and experience some of his teachings before undergoing the initiation ceremony.
Knowing about Kriya Yoga
The spiritual aspect of yoga has been fascinating for me. In the event I hope to find out more about this concept in times to come. Some of the books on my reading list should hopefully reveal more about Kriya Yoga to me:
Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda seems to be a good place to start, since this is the book that conveyed this concept effectively to the world. The book speaks of his experiences with miracles, saints, consciousness and some of the secrets of life and happiness.
Babaji & the 18 Siddha Kriya Yoga Tradition by Marshall Govindan is a book written by a Kriya Yoga teacher who has helped set up 23 Kriya Yoga centers around the world.
Kriya Secrets Revealed: Lessons and Techniques by J. C. Stevens should hopefully offer more insight into the actual practice and techniques of Kriya yoga. The book is described as comprehensive and a must buy for the spiritual seeker.