Kriya Yoga : Asanas , Meditation and Effects

February 1, 2022

6 min read

Introduction 

When speaking of the basics of yoga, one is likely talking about Hatha yoga, the most commonly practiced school of the discipline. However, another ancient yoga style is becoming increasingly popular today: Kriya yoga. Regular practice of Kriya yoga can help individuals achieve inner peace and attain oneness with the cosmos. Yoga has certain benefits [1].

What is Kriya Yoga?

Kriya yoga is the yoga of ‘action’ or ‘awareness’. This style of yoga uses meditation techniques like pranayama, mantras, and mudras or spiritual hand gestures to stimulate mental and emotional growth. The ultimate goal of this ancient practice is spiritual awakening [2].

The art of Kriya yoga was neither popular nor well known until Paramhansa Yogananda wrote about it in detail in his book. He identified Kriya yoga as the most effective style of yoga for those looking for personal evolution and ways of directing their energies in the right directions. The practice of Kriya yoga includes the following:

  1. Meditation
  2. Mantra chanting
  3. Pranayama, or breathing exercises
  4. Asanas, or postures
  5. Mudras, or hand gestures

The Effects of Kriya Yoga

Kriya yoga is more closely associated with the mind and the spirit than other forms of yoga. A great deal of research shows the positive effects of Kriya yoga on the brain. Kriya yoga is also said to help transform brain waves into more alert and calm states, enhancing awareness and relaxation [2]. 

Studies have shown that the practice of Kriya yoga helps the brain transition from alpha waves, responsible for alertness, into theta waves, which provide deep relaxation and allow us to access our subconscious mind. Once individuals access their subconscious, they become more aware of their thoughts, emotions, behavioural patterns, etc. The various techniques of Kriya yoga help unify the mind, body, and spirit. Regular practice of this discipline also furthers mastery over one’s thoughts.

Benefits of Kriya Yoga

Regular practice of Kriya yoga has many benefits for the mind, body and soul of an individual, and these include:

1. Spiritual growth

Kriya yoga energises the entire body – all its organs, tissues and cells. In a way, the body gets magnetised and energised to keep itself healthy. A healthy body is home to a healthy soul. By improving the home, Kriya yoga also enhances the individual’s spiritual growth.

2. by improving the home controlling the mind

The body must first be calmed and quietened to control one’s mind. Kriya yoga can help with this. Regular practice of Kriya yoga calms the mind and makes it more efficient by increasing blood flow and oxygen supply.

3. Intellectual development

Kriya yoga boosts circulation in the head and stimulates brain cells to work at their maximum potential, which helps in the intellectual development of an individual, improving memory recall and retention. 

4. Personality development

Practising Kriya yoga also helps improve one’s personality. It makes the individual more aware of their negative traits and habits, allowing one to address them without being troubled.

5. Cleanses and unblocks the chakras

Kriya yoga is known to cleanse and unblock the different chakras. This yoga style can relieve routine problems like feeling tired and weary, lack of focus, etc.

What are Asanas or Poses of Kriya Yoga?

Asana is the Sanskrit term for yoga poses or postures performed to improve the health of the body. Asanas are ancient techniques of full-body workouts with many benefits. Asanas can help one lose weight, improve balance, relieve aches and pains in the muscles, reduce period cramps, and even improve heart and brain health. Most yoga styles or disciplines use asanas as one of their techniques. We can perform  Asanas efficiently without any instruments or equipment.

Each asana in yoga has specific effects and benefits. For example, the sukhasana alleviates stress and anxiety, while the naukasana is excellent for digestion. Some common asanas practised in yoga are:

  • Kriya Vanakam Asana (Pose of Salutation)
  • Meenasana (Fish Pose)
  • Pambu Asana (Cobra Pose)
  • Amaranth Kokkuasana (Seated Crane Pose)

Kriya yoga comprises six Kriyas, also called Shat Kriyas. These techniques cleanse the internal organs, allowing a balanced flow of energy restored in the body. The Shat Kriyas are:

  1. Kapalabhati
  2. Trataka
  3. Neti
  4. Dhouti
  5. Nauli
  6. Vasti

Performing Asanas of Kriya Yoga Properly!

A brief step-by-step guide to performing Kriya yoga asanas properly:

  • Start with a comfortable seated or standing position before beginning any yoga asana.
  • It is important to remember that each asana has breathing techniques and proper timing for inhalation and exhalation. While doing the asana, it is essential to follow deep abdominal and diaphragmatic breathing.
  • Always have a fixed yoga sequence to ensure the routine is safe and balanced.
  • Always start with gentle stretching exercises and then move into deeper poses.
  • Always end the practice with savasana or the cooling down pose.
  • If you are a beginner, always begin with more accessible poses and asanas before moving on to more advanced poses.
  • Always stay hydrated during your yoga routine.

How to do Meditate!

Meditation is an integral part of Kriya yoga. We should follow the process [3]:

  • Sit on a flat surface, preferably the floor, in a comfortable position, with knees crossed below the pelvis, back relaxed, and the spine straight.
  • Relax the arms and position them comfortably.
  • Sit in the lotus posture and entwine the fingers and thumbs, touching each other gently and lightly.
  • Close your eyes or focus on a spot a few feet away from you.
  • Relax your body for five minutes.
  • Now, still your consciousness and try to calm your mind by choosing one thought to focus on.
  • Let go of all other unwanted, unimportant thoughts. Push away any intruding thoughts.
  • Channel your energy into one chosen thought and stay focussed.
  • Practice this for around twenty minutes every day.

Conclusion

Regularly practising Kriya yoga can help one physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Kriya yoga also helps unify one’s mind, body and soul, creating a profound sense of inner peace and tranquillity. When performed correctly and under the guidance of an experienced teacher, Kriya yoga is a safe practice that anyone can do. Learn more about the benefits of yoga and meditation for various mental health ailments by speaking to a mental health professional here.

References 

[1] A. Ross and S. Thomas, “The health benefits of yoga and exercise: a review of comparison studies,” J. Altern. Complement. Med., vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 3–12, 2010.

 

[2] S. A. Zope and R. A. Zope, “Sudarshan kriya yoga: Breathing for health,” Int. J. Yoga, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 4–10, 2013.
[3] “How to Meditate: A Practical Guide,” Google Books. [Online]. Available: https://books.google.com/books/about/How_to_Meditate.html?id=EJXwwbRkjTQC. [Accessed: 03-Aug-2022].

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