What is Yoga? Yoga is a process of reversing the ordinary outward flow of energy and consciousness. The word yoga itself means, the union of the individual consciousness or soul with the Universal Consciousness. The most effective approach to the goal in yoga employs those methods of meditation that deal directly with energy and consciousness. It is the direct approach.
Origin of Kriya Yoga: Kriya means action and Yoga means integration. Kriya Yoga emphasizes the integration of isolated consciousness (generated by the continuous movement of thought) with awakenings i.e., non-elective holistic attention free from mental destruction through actions of perception and not through the activities of conceptualization. Kriya Yoga is an ancient meditation technique of energy and breath control or pranayama. It is also a comprehensive spiritual path, which includes additional meditation practices and right living.
The Kriya technique was hidden in secrecy for many centuries. It was revived in 1861 when the great yogi Mahavatar Babaji taught the technique to his disciple Lahiri Mahasaya. Lahiri Mahasaya then taught the technique to his disciple Sri Yukteswargiri, who taught it to his disciples, including Paramhansa Yogananda. Yogananda then popularized Kriya Yoga through his book, Autobiography of a Yogi, and through his public teaching in the West.
Mahavatar Babaji synthesized his Kriya Yoga from techniques taught by the Siddhas, Agastya Maharshi, and Boganatha rishi. Babaji initiated a great yogi, S.A.A. Ramaiah also into these yoga techniques in 1954 near Badrinath in the Himalayas.
Kriya Yoga: According to Yogananda, Kriya is the most effective technique available to mankind today for reaching the goal of Yoga: Union with the Divine. Kriya Yoga is so effective because it works directly with the source of growth — the spiritual energy deep in our spine.
All yoga techniques work with this energy, usually indirectly. Yoga postures, for example, can help open up the spinal channels and balance the energy in the spine. Yoga breathing exercises like Kriya Yoga can help to awaken that energy.
How It Works: The Kriya technique is more direct. It helps the practitioner to control the life force by mentally drawing it up and down the spine, with awareness and will. According to Yogananda, one Kriya, which takes about 30 seconds, is equivalent to one year of natural spiritual growth.
Kriya’s unconditional way sets the seeker free from the past karma. It transforms the gross ego-center of the seeker into a subtle individual uniqueness, brings harmony with the completeness of life by piercing the ignorance. It is a unique combination of Hatha-Raja Yoga. Kriya Yoga settles the seeker in his natural state in which his body receives instructions only from glands and Chakras. It does not indulge in miracles to promote in an attractive way. Organizations promoting inferences are stragglers from the path of truth. Kriya Yoga encourages seekers to explore whether the doer and the skilled can become one.
Self-realization is possible only through the constant practice of Yoga-kriya. Through constancy in Kriya, one can change even his destiny. One’s own sadhana (effort) and the Kripa (grace) of Mahashakti, both are necessary for success in God-realization. However, sadhana by itself will beget Kripa and provide the needed prop in the form of a Guru (preceptor). God himself descends in the form of a real Guru, takes hold of the ‘being’ and helps him/his in salvation. One only needs to surrender completely to the Guru and act according to his instructions. This total unqualified surrender is the key to success.
“One thousand Kriya practiced in eight hours gives the yogi, in one day, the equivalent of one thousand years of natural evolution: 365,000 years of evolution in one year.”
-Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda