Category: Kriya Yoga
The Paths of Raja Yoga and Kriya Yoga
March 6, 2012
Recently I went in to Raja yoga medition by sahaj Marg and having a confusion whether I need to follow Raja Yoga or Kriya yoga. Please suggest me which path I need to go and how to choose ?
Your question is really two questions in one. One question is: Should I practice the teachings of sahaj Marg or of Yogananda?
The second question is: What is the difference between Raja Yoga and Kriya Yoga?
The answer to your first question is found on a very personal and individual basis. Different teachings, even though similar, even though originating from the same general tradition (yoga), feel different or - as one hears - have a different, subtle vibration. You need to spend time with each teaching, and ideally, with the teacher or diciples of the teacher, in order to decide which teachings feel best to you.
There are many true paths, many true teachers; but one teaching will tend to draw you, to inspire you to get more involved.
The answer to your second question is more about technique than personal preference.
Yogananda taught Raja Yoga, one part of which is Kriya Yoga. Raja Yoga, or royal yoga, is a collection of teachings and practices that address all aspects of life:
- Hatha yoga, which addresses the health of the physical body, is part of Raja Yoga.
- Meditation, which addresses the mind and communion with higher consciousness, is a part of Raja Yoga.
- Devotional chanting, which addresses the heart, is part of Raja Yoga.
Kriya Yoga is a specific technique of life force control (pranayama) which addresses the flow of subtle energy in the body, and directs it upward to the spiritual eye at the point between the eyebrows. Kriya Yoga is a part of Raja Yoga, although it is of such importance in the teachings of Yogananda that it can seem as though it is considered a separate path.
That is not the case. Kriya Yoga is practiced most effectively when accompanied by the many complimentary Raja Yoga practices that Yogananda gave us.
I hope you find this answer helpful.
Puru (Joseph) Selbie
Does Kriya Burn Up Samskaras?
February 14, 2012
How do we overcome the hidden Samskaras that are latent within us? They can be anything - Jealousy, Selfishness etc. Your conscious mind is absolutely sure that you don't have those characteristics, but they manifest themselves in certain situations.
I'm a Kriyaban from Ananda Sangha and Kriya Yoga is definately helped me control my mind and my lifeforce and its a blessing.
But I still wonder bout my hidden Samskaras.
Does Kriya "burn" them too!?
Indeed, that is one of the most wonderful benefits of Kriya. According to our line of Kriya masters, the practice of Kriya burns up many seeds of past karma, often before they even have the chance to make an appearance in our lives. Those 'seeds' are actually vrittis, or vortices of energy in the astral spine, which are borne of past actions, desires, thoughts, etc.
Samskaras, or tendencies like you describe, are typically based on past actions and the ensuing vortex of energy created by that action/thought/desire. Kriya practice helps to bring a very strong current of spiritual energy through the astral spine, helping to dissolve those vrittis, often before they manifest as tendencies that we can see in ourselves.
According to Swami Kriyananda, any deep spiritual exprience - of God as overwhelming bliss, light, love, etc. - has even more power to dissolve those past seeds of karma. Kriya is not mechanical in the way that it works, but when done deeply, and with a sense of deep devotion and awareness of Divine Grace, also has that same power to free us from past karmas and tendencies.
please enlighten whether there is any relation or connection of Kriya yoga with the teachings of Sri Ramkrishna Paramhansa.
with regards & pranam
Dr Snehasis Chatterjee.
There isn't a formal connection between the two teachings, but of course they are related, in two significant ways.
The first is that Paramhansa Yogananda and Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa were both from Kolkata. Even though they never met, Yogananda had a deep love and fondness for Ramakrishna, often visiting the temple at Dakshineswar, and meditating there for many hours at a time.
Yogananda also had a great friendship with Mahendranath Gupta (called "Master Mahashaya" in Autobiography of a Yogi), who wrote the beautiful Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna (Sri Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita) as "M."
I've personally enjoyed that book tremendously over the years, and have always seen the Ramakrishna lineage as our spiritual cousins, in a way.
The other deep connection is that the devotional aspect of the Kriya teachings is rooted in the same love for God that Ramakrishna taught - devotion to God in all forms, and also notably to God as the Divine Mother. It isn't very well understood by many people, but this deep devotion is an integral part of the path of Kriya Yoga.
Kriya Yoga also works with a very specific set of techniques, with the actual Kriya technique being just one of them. Ramakrishna didn't commonly teach techniques, even though he did practice them at various times in some of the different sadhanas (spiritual practices) he performed.
So yes, there is both a relation and connection in what is perhaps the most important way: a common and deep bhakti (devotion) for God, and the understanding that the goal of all life is to seek God and final union with the Divine.
Joy and blessings to you,
How to Maintain Attunement in the Midst of a Busy Life
December 9, 2011
My Kriya practice has become very important to me and I fear losing the discipline to continue meditating consistently due to my outer life creating distractions. My question is how to keep strong attunement to God and Gurus while maintaining a demanding outer life of service.
I think most kriyabans experience a tug-of-war between the outward pull of responsibilities and an inner call to maintain attunement and a regular sadhana. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Try to keep God and Gurus in your consciousness during your outward service. Serve them through whatever it is you are called to do. Include them and ask for their guidance in your outer duties. Let them work with you and through you as your partner during the day. In other words, don't make too rigid a separation between your inner and outer life.
2. Spiritual indifference can be our greatest enemy on the spiritual path. Fan your desire for God and feed it. If it burns brightly, the rest will follow naturally and you need not worry. Ask yourself, "Is my love for God growing? Is it strong within me?" Keep in mind why you came to these teachings in the first place and don't be satisfied until your heart's true longing is satisfied.
3. Dive even more deeply into your kriya practice to experience joy. As Paramhansa Yogananda used to say, "Once you taste good cheese, you will no longer be satisfied with stale cheese." If you feel God's blessings in meditation, you will want to return again and again to experience more. The temptation to become distracted with outer duties will lessen.
4. I can't emphasize enough the importance of spiritual company - satsanga. Associate as much as possible with others who share your spiritual ideals. You will be carried over the rough spots. But even if you are without such friends and company, remember what Yoganandaji asked a disciple, "Am I not always with you?"
I hope these few thoughts prove helpful.
The Path of Kriya Yoga Compared to Bhastrika Pranayam
October 18, 2011
Are you able to tell me the differences and similarities between bhastrika pranayam & kriya yoga.
I know some people who do bhastrika pranayam and I wonder which is the superior pranayam?
It's hard to compare the two at all, since bhastrika is a single technique, and Kriya Yoga is a comprehensive spiritual path-which includes several techniques, along with discipleship, devotion, and attunement to the Guru.
The Kriya technique itself, which is one of four main techniques on the path of Kriya Yoga, works with the life force in the deep astral spine. One of the effects that makes Kriya so powerful is that it gives one pranayama, or control over the life force.
Many people think that pranayama refers to breathing exercises, but in fact it refers to having the condition of pranayama. When one has complete control of the life force, one has gained the condition of pranayama.
Patanjali, in his Yoga Sutras, was referring to pranayama in that way. Just as asana (singular!) in the Yoga Sutras refers to the perfect still posture required for deep meditation - rather than to the countless asanas (plural) that have evolved in modern times.
So, bhastrika and Kriya Yoga serve two very different purposes. Both have benefits, but Kriya Yoga is a comprehensive spiritual path - even a way of life - so the two can't really be compared to each other.
Steps to Kriya Initiation
October 12, 2011
I have recently finished reading Swami Kriyananda's book "The New Path" and have thought of taking Kriya Yoga course. Somehow, part of me is not sure if I am ready to take them, even with your free online offer of the overview course. I have been meditating for quite sometime and really would like to have proper intructions to help me improve. Is there a way I would know that I am ready for the work of Kriya Yoga ? Or, any other suggestions? Thank you.
It's good that you are approaching this thoughtfully. You don't need to decide at this point about your readiness. The full course takes about 1 year, culminating in the Kriya initiation.
During that year you will be learning several of our preliminary techniques, which are general and can be applied to many meditation types. About half way through you will be asked if you want to become a disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda and this line of gurus ( a requirement for the intiation). If so, your studies will continue.
But whether or not you become a disciple, these beginning techniques will help in improving your ability to concentrate and still the body and the breath. They will become a foundation for your practice, whether you take the Kriya initiation or follow another path.
If, after you have taken some of the course, you don't feel ready to continue, that is fine too. We give this course all the time, and Kriya initiations are offered many times throughout the year. So, take your time and give yourself the chance to find out if this is your path.
Joy to you,
Nayaswami Sadhana Devi
The Sequence of Meditation Techniques
October 8, 2011
In terms of a daily habitual meditation routine, what should be the order?
I know your suppose to do the Hong-Sau then Aum Meditation and then Kriya.
But can you reverse the order?
If Kriya calms the breath and heart, then shouldn't Kriya be done first then Aum meditation and then Hong-Sau?
It just feels like doing Kriya FIRST would make the AUM and Hong-Sau more effective.
Thanks for your help.
The order of the techniques was taught this way by Paramhansa Yogananda as a beginning practice. After one has established a stable routine, and has reached a point where he is regularly sitting longer and doing a larger number of Kriyas, he can go on to practicing in a different order if his intuition and experience call for it.
The Energization Exercises help the body to relax and become calm; Hong Sau helps to quiet the breath and focus the mind, and the Aum technique helps to continue the process of interiorization. All these are necessary before one can successfully practice Kriya. Trying to do Kriya with a restless mind and body is usually counterproductive.
That said, you won't do any harm to yourself if you practice Kriya first, but it probably won't be very helpful to you either. We often counsel people to practice the way the guru has told us so that we can increase our attunement and draw his grace.
And, if we awaken devotion by asking the guru to practice through us, in this way we make ourselves more aware of his inner guidance. Then we can more easily discern whether or not to make changes in the routine.
I hope this helps. Many blessings on your practice!
Joy to you,
Nayaswami Sadhana Devi
Is it okay to offer our guests non-vegetarian feasts? Do we gain bad karma by offering them such dishes? What can we do when they are very particular about having non-vegetarian dishes?
Your question is a common one here in America, where vegetarianism is still rare in some parts of the country.
If you respect others' dietary preferences they are more likely to respect yours. You can always offer both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes and let your guests choose. Sometimes they will be willing to try the vegetarian options and find that they like them. (Some of my non-vegetarian relatives now ask me to make vegetarian food for them!)
Paramhansa Yogananda occasionally recommended a small amount of meat in the diet for those who had not yet become accustomed to a completely vegetarian diet.
I think it is more important to be considerate of your guests' wishes than it is to try to convert them to your kind of diet. If you have established a friendly relationship with them they will be more accepting of differences. Bad karma results more from having a poor attitude, such as being judgemental. There are times when we can't avoid making mistakes and just have to do what we think is best. Having an attitude of service will help you make the right decisions.
What happens when you are the guest and are served non-vegetarian food? Keeping in mind the principle of being considerate, it is probably better to eat what is served until you have established that friendly relationship. Later, you may have the opportunity to invite them to your home and to serve them some vegetarian dishes.
Much joy to you,
Nayaswami Sadhana Devi
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