The Paths of Raja Yoga and Kriya Yoga


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 ?

—Dhivakar S, India



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 disciples 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 complementary Raja Yoga practices that Yogananda gave us.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

Warm regards,
Puru (Joseph) Selbie