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?
—D p, USA
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.