“After the mind has been cleared by Kriya Yoga of sensory obstacles, meditation furnishes a twofold proof of God. Ever-new joy is evidence of His existence, convincing to our very atoms. Also, in meditation one finds His constant guidance, His adequate response to every difficulty.”
—Sri Yukteswar, from Autobiography of a Yogi
The technique of Kriya Yoga
Yogananda devoted a chapter of his Autobiography of a Yogi to a discussion of Kriya Yoga. He wrote, “Kriya Yoga is referred to by Krishna, India’s greatest prophet, in a stanza of the Bhagavad Gita: ‘Offering inhaling breath into the outgoing breath, and offering the outgoing breath into the inhaling breath, the yogi neutralizes both these breaths; he thus releases the life force from the heart and brings it under his control.’ The interpretation is: ‘The yogi arrests decay in the body by an addition of life force, and arrests the mutations of growth in the body by apan (eliminating current). Thus neutralizing decay and growth, by quieting the heart, the yogi learns life control.’”
All yoga techniques work with this spiritual energy, usually indirectly. Yoga postures, for example, can help open up the spinal channels, and balance the energy in the spine. Yoga breathing exercises can help to awaken that energy.
The Kriya technique is much 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 a half-minute, is equivalent to one year of natural spiritual growth.
The technique itself is taught through initiation.
“You can be in a room twenty years, trying to get out through the walls, the ceiling, the floor. It is when you finally discover the door that you find your way out. That’s how it is with the soul. The average devotee may struggle his whole life trying to escape the bodily limitations by unscientific means, and by the paths only of devotion or discrimination. By Kriya Yoga, however, if he is sincere, he can escape quickly. Kriya Yoga takes one to God by the universal highway: the spine.”
—Paramhansa Yogananda, from Conversations with Yogananda
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. When may I take Kriya initiation?
A. Once you have established a consistent meditation practice, learned the basic meditation techniques that lead up to Kriya practice, and become a disciple of Yogananda, you may take initiation. Preliminary meditation practices include the Energization Exercises, Hong-Sau, and the AUM technique, which are taught in Ananda’s beginning and advanced meditation classes.
Paramhansa Yogananda described the body of the average person as similar to a fifty-watt bulb. It cannot accommodate the powerful transforming energy that comes with regular Kriya practice. The course of study and preparation normally takes about one year. By the time you take Kriya Yoga initiation, you should have a daily meditation practice of an hour and a half per day.
Initiation is given once a year at Ananda Palo Alto, or monthly at Ananda Village near Nevada City, CA. If you do not live near an Ananda colony or are unable to attend classes and would like to prepare by correspondence, you may be able to receive Kriya initiation at a distance (call us at (650) 323-3363 for information).
Q. Why is discipleship needed to receive Kriya Yoga Initiation?
A. Yogananda asked discipleship of those who received Kriya from him. Kriya is a technique, but it is also an expression of spiritual seeking and desire for a deep inner experience of God. The attitude of discipleship is therefore an essential part of the practice. Yogananda said of discipleship that it “expresses the devotee’s firm resolve thenceforth to set aside ego-motivated desires, and to dedicate himself to doing God’s will alone.”
Q. Kriya initiation is offered by a number of teachers and places in the world today. Are they all teaching the same thing?
A. Kriya is a common spiritual word in India, and it has several meanings. We don’t know the details of what others are teaching, but we are fortunate to have the experience and instruction of Swami Kriyananda, who learned Kriya personally from Yogananda. He taught Kriya to many thousands of people at Yogananda’s request, and has been teaching for more than 55 years. He has personally trained all of our Kriya ministers.
For more information about Kriya and how you may prepare for receiving the Kriya technique, contact Ananda Kriya Sangha (worldwide) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area and have questions about Kriya or would like some help with your Kriya practice, you may contact Chidambar Bonin at 650-941-9507 or by email at email@example.com.