What is Kriya?
Kriya is an ancient technique which is part of the Science of Yoga. The vast body of kriya techniques may involve breath control (pranayama), mantra, mudra and/or repetitive movements. Traditionally, kriya was not taught in a group setting. It was always taught by a guru (kumu/teacher) to a disciple (haumana/student) and only when there was an intimate and worthy inquiry. Unlike asana, kriya practices are not historically found in written form and have been perpetuated via oral tradition. Though practiced in secrecy for many centuries, kriya lineage can be traced back to the great yogi Mahavatar Babaji. Kriya is also found in the Kundalini tradition, classical Hatha and the Ashtanga tradition of Patanjali. In the West, we can point to Paramhansa Yogananda who shared Yoga throughout the United States and brought light to kriya via his book, Autobiography of a Yogi.
[Trivia: Which famous person gave copies of Autobiography of a Yogi as a final gift for all who attended his memorial service? Read to the end for the answer.]
Why should I practice Kriya?
If you are looking to explore yoga beyond asana, elevate your meditation practice and/or ready to move from “doing yoga” to truly being yoga*, then kriya is for you!
[*Yoga can be translated/defined as “union,” and the definition is essentially the purpose… to unite with or connect to Creator, God, the Higher Self, the unified field of consciousness, the cosmos… however you chose to define that aspect of you that is never separate from Source and exists beyond all space, time and linear positionality.]
How is Kriya different from Asana?
If you’ve attended a yoga class, at least in the West, most likely the focus has been on a asana, the physical postures. For many people, this is their only experience of yoga. When teaching kriya to students who are experiencing it for the first time, we often hear, “WOW! I’ve never felt anything quite like that before!” People are often surprised at how a mere three minutes of kriya can cause a greater energetic shift than 30 minutes of asana.
Kriya may be defined as an “action that leads us to evolution, expansion and liberation.” The word kriya can be broken down into kri- which (in sanskrit) means “action/to do,” and -ya which is another name for “Atman/the soul.” A kriya is a specific technique or action designed to create a specific evolutionary response. The practice of kriya enables the body to support increased levels of energy and creates a profound harmony with the cosmos. Through kriya, one can access deep, innate wisdom and a level of integration that may not be attained through asana alone.
Whereas asana is extremely helpful to release toxins from the body, kriya supports the release of toxins in our physiology, pranic field as well as our bio-memory. We use kriya in the Sattva Yoga practice to prepare ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually for the transformative experience available through accessing the infinite reservoir of intelligent energy that exists throughout the universe.
We invite you to join us for weekly, kriya-focused yoga classes in Kailua, Hawaii. We teach “Beyond Asana” on Tuesdays and “Sattva Flow” on Thursdays at Bella Kai Yoga. Learn more and sign up here: http://bellakaiyoga.com/schedule
For those who live off island or others simply interested in learning kriya outside of a group setting, we offer private sessions in person and remotely via Zoom. These classes are designed around your specific intentions and desires and are taught in a way to help you cultivate a sadhana (i.e. a daily practice). Contact us for more details at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Answer to the Triva Question: Steve Jobs , theCo-Founder of Apple, planned every detail of his own memorial service which was held at Stanford University in October 2011, including the brown box each attendee received which contained his favorite book, Autobiography of a Yogi. His friends remarked that Steve’s final message was clear, “Actualize yourself… and recognize that we should all look at the world from the inside out.”