What Is Kriya Yoga?
Kriya Yoga is an ancient meditation technique of energy and breath control, or pranayama. It is part of a comprehensive spiritual path, which includes additional meditation practices along with 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 then taught the technique to his disciple Sri Yukteswar, 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. Kriya has been taught in an unbroken link of spiritual succession to this day.
How Does Kriya Work?
According to Yogananda, Kriya Yoga 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 spines.
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 or pranayama, can help to awaken that energy.
However, Kriya Yoga is more direct. It helps the practitioner to control the life force by mentally drawing that life force up and down the spine, with awareness and will. According to Yogananda, one Kriya, which takes about half a minute, is equivalent to one year of natural spiritual growth.
Kriya is also very practical in its effectiveness. Kriya Yogis find that it enhances their ability to concentrate, to become more effective in business and in family life, and to become better people in every way.