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.
How Kriya Yoga Affects the Brain
with Dr. Peter Van Houten, M.D.
The Science of Kriya Yoga
from Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda
Kriya Yoga is an instrument through which human evolution can be quickened. The ancient yogis discovered that the secret of cosmic consciousness is intimately linked with breath mastery. The life force, which is ordinarily absorbed in maintaining the heart-pump, must be freed for higher activities by a method of calming and stilling the ceaseless demands of the breath.
“One thousand Kriyas practiced in eight hours gives the yogi, in one day, the equivalent of one thousand years of natural evolution: 365,000 years of evolution in one year.” Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramhansa Yogananda
Where and How Do I Learn It?
Receiving Kriya Initiation Through Ananda
The Kriya technique is taught through initiation by one of our Kriyacharyas or Kriya Yoga teachers who are authorized by Swami Kriyananda, who himself was authorized by Paramhansa Yogananda, to pass on the Kriya technique. Many of our teachers have been initiating people into Kriya Yoga for more than 30 years, and teaching meditation for over 50 years.
We give Kriya initiations most often in the United States, India, and Italy. However, our teachers often travel to other countries, including Mexico, Russia, Singapore, New Zealand, and others to give initiations.
Preparation for Kriya Initiation
Before you can be initiated into Kriya Yoga, there is a process of preparation which includes study of Paramhansa Yogananda’s teachings and practice of other meditation techniques.
Over the years, Ananda has helped thousands of truth seekers all over the world to prepare for initiation into Kriya Yoga. We’ve seen that the practice of Kriya is infinitely more effective after the proper preparation and study of the Kriya teaching
How Long Does it Take to Learn Kriya?
This process takes about a year, but this also depends on each individual. It is natural to think of any training we receive in terms of outer goals, yet with the Path of Kriya, much more is involved. The Path of Kriya Yoga involves learning and practicing spiritual techniques that promote inner transformation. Each of these techniques needs to be integrated into one’s life before moving forward. How quickly one can move forward with the material depends on personal karma and inner realities. The instructors work with each individual, according to their needs and realities.
How Do You Learn Kriya?
The Path of Kriya can be studied in in-person or through our online courses. If you are near one of our Ananda Centers, we encourage you to learn the techniques in-person. If you are not near an Ananda Center, they can be learned very effectively through Ananda’s online classes.
Regardless of whether you choose to learn in-person or online, you will receive personal spiritual support, resources, and ample opportunity to ask questions of our experienced meditation teachers. After learning Kriya Yoga, Ananda continues to offer ongoing support and guidance in your spiritual practices. Learn more.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the technique of Kriya Yoga?Kriya Yoga is an ancient meditation technique that is also part of a comprehensive spiritual path. It is an effective technique that works directly with the source of growth — the spiritual energy deep in our spines. Learn more about Kriya Yoga.
Why Is Kriya Yoga Given as an Initiation?We have seen that when people practice Kriya without proper instruction, they often practice this subtle technique incorrectly and don’t gain the benefits. If people practice without trying to attune to the Guru’s grace, again, they don’t feel the full results and often lose interest in the practice. Learn more.
What are the origins of Kriya Yoga?The ancient technique of Kriya Yoga 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 during their meeting in the Himalayas. Read more about Babaji and Kriya Yoga.
What are the benefits of Kriya Yoga?Those who practice Kriya Yoga share many different experiences on how their life has been changed. “Instead of nervousness and stress, I feel centered, calm, and peaceful. I am able to feel Divine Mother’s love even through recent shocking family tragedy, and it’s helped me to cope and stay sane and even joyful.” See more testimonials on the benefits of Kriya Yoga.
There are other groups that teach different “kriya” yogas — what’s the difference?
“Kriya” is a commonly used word in yoga. It literally means “action,” and is used to describe many different techniques. The Kriya that we teach at Ananda is specifically the Kriya Yoga of Lahiri Mahasaya. Read more on Kriya taught through Ananda and how to choose the right path for you.
Ananda offers ongoing support for Ananda Sangha Kriyabans, including online courses, Kriya retreats (both online and in-person), guided Kriya meditations, a special website with articles to help deepen one’s Kriya practice, as well as email support and personal counseling. To find out more about Kriya, email KriyaYoga@ananda.org.