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What is kriya yoga featured image - pretty woman doing kriya in living room

What Is Kriya Yoga? Everything You Need To Know & How To Do It!

Kriya Yoga is a bit shrouded in secrecy and takes some time to learn. But if you do, it’s worth it. 

The benefits include everything from moving closer to enlightenment, to universal connection, and daily practical perks like stress reduction and higher focus. 

Let’s take a look at what Kriya Yoga is, how it’s done, and how you can master this skill…

Kriya Yoga Explained

Kriya Yoga isn’t just about exercise like Power Yoga. Instead, it’s primarily an ancient meditation technique of breath and energy control (pranayama).

It also promotes clean, compassionate, and wise living which we can all probably benefit from. 

“Kriya” means action and “yoga” means holistic union – i.e., that of the mind, body, and soul. So, put together, Kriya Yoga is the action that we take to maintain awareness of that natural union.

It’s a spiritual path and a way of life. As a result, it’s not considered to be a religion in the traditional sense.

Instead, it’s about exploring the spiritual practice and figuring out what works for you as an individual. The meditation helps with the exploration of your essence and the nature of Divine Reality.

Who Founded/Created Kriya Yoga? 

monks meditating on the side of the road

No one knows for sure. For centuries, it was considered so sacred that it was practiced only in secret.

The lineage of accessibility to the public began in 1861 when Mahavatar Babji taught Lahiri Mahasaya. Mahasaya taught Sri Yukestwar whose disciple was Parmahansa Yogananda.

Paramahansa Yogananda is famous for bringing the technique to the West in the 1920s. He popularized it through his book, Autobiography of a Yogi.

His link remains unbroken to this day. According to him, one Kriya practice equals one year of spiritual growth.

Who Is Kriya Yoga For? 

woman doing kriya yoga meditation in house

There isn’t one “ideal” person for Kriya Yoga.

The ancients used to believe that they needed people like prophets or Gurus to get in touch with God for them.

Today, we know that we can don’t need prophets or Gurus. Kriya Yoga is one way to realize our union with God/the universe.

But if you’re not religious or spiritual, you can simply use it as a practice to get in touch with yourself and the present time moment.

It’s an excellent way to calm your mind and reduce your stress. 

Benefits of Kriya Yoga

young woman being zen at her computer while chaos is around her

Because Kriya is more of a meditative practice, the benefits are heavily related to mood, focus, and stress.

By practicing for just a short time, you’ll notice a distinct difference in how you feel during the day.

Specifically, you’ll notice more mental clarity and less stress. You may also notice that you have more energy.

The benefits of this practice rival the benefits of meditation in every way. So you can expect to gain similar experiences including:

  • Better concentration and focus 
  • Reduced stress
  • Enhanced control of your emotions 
  • More energy 
  • Better circulation
  • Unblocking chakras 
  • More willpower 

How do you practice Kriya Yoga?

woman practicing yoga while looking out of a window

Kriya Yoga brings together the most effective elements of all systems of yoga. It’s about letting go of the egoic self that believes in separation from everything else in the world.

A fundamental belief to Kriya is that we have been lost in our egoic thinking and that our greatest joy lies in returning to the Self within.

The four yoga elements Kriya brings together are:

1. The Meditation Methodology of Raja Yoga

This form of meditation is mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita. Its name refers to king-like qualities.

In this case, it means obtaining the highest attributes of independence, awareness, and confidence. It was popularized in the 19th century by Swami Vivekanda.

Its goal is to help you master your body using your mind – mind over matter. 

2. The Surrendered Devotion of Bhakti Yoga

Bhakti Yoga is, at its core, is all about eternal love. The goal of the practice is to help you realize your connection to the rest of the world and get in touch with your eternal self. 

3. The Focused Self-Inquiry Pathway of Jnana Yoga

Jnana is Sanskrit for “knowledge or wisdom”. Jnana Yoga involves meditation, contemplation, and self-inquiry to discover the true nature of reality. 

4. Importance of Selfless Service that is Karma Yoga

Swami Sivananda taught that selfless service makes both you and the world better. And that’s what karma yoga is all about.

Its the yoga of action – meaning you learn kindness and compassion through service to others. 

Kriya Yoga Meditation Techniques

Because Kriya Yoga is a meditation practice, it takes dedication and regular practice to master.

Don’t become discouraged if you find it hard to concentrate at first. Just follow the steps and refocus whenever you get distracted.

If you don’t want to practice alone or if you find yourself having a hard time, there are guided classes online and there may even be instructors in your area. 

Below are the Kriya techniques:

1. Energization Exercises

This is what the public is the most familiar with. The only difference is that, in Kriya, it’s used to prepare the body for deep meditation. It helps to calm the body and mind simultaneously.

2. Hong-Sau Technique of Concentration