Kriya Yoga is a meditation technique that quickly accelerates one’s spiritual growth. It was first made widely known by Paramhansa Yogananda in his Autobiography of a Yogi. According to Yogananda, Kriya is the most effective technique available to mankind today for reaching the goal of Yoga: union with the Divine.
What Is Kriya Yoga?
Referring to the universal need for yoga, and particularly for Kriya Yoga, which guides the energy into, and up, the spine, Yogananda once said,
"You can be in a room twenty years, trying to get out through the walls, the ceiling, the floor. It is when you finally discover the door that you find your way out. That’s how it is with the soul. The average devotee may struggle his whole life trying to escape the bodily limitations by unscientific means, and by the paths only of devotion or discrimination. By Kriya Yoga, however, if he is sincere, he can escape quickly. Kriya Yoga takes one to God by the universal highway: the spine." —From Conversations With Yogananda
The Origin of Kriya Yoga
Kriya Yoga is an ancient technique that 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.
Kriya has been taught in an unbroken link of spiritual succession to this day. Paramhansa Yogananda personally authorized his disciple, Swami Kriyananda (founder of Ananda) to initiate qualified people into Kriya.
The Technique of Kriya Yoga
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 can help to awaken that energy.
The Kriya technique is much more direct. It helps the practitioner to control the life force by mentally drawing it up and down the spine, with awareness and will. According to Yogananda, one Kriya, which takes about a half-minute, is equivalent to one year of natural spiritual growth.
The technique itself is taught through initiation. As Yogananda said in his autobiography, “Because of certain ancient yogic injunctions, I cannot give a full explanation of Kriya Yoga in the pages of a book intended for the general public. The actual technique must be learned from a Kriyaban or Kriya Yogi; here a broad reference must suffice.”
The Path of Kriya
Paramhansa Yogananda taught Kriya Yoga as a spiritual path that includes three other techniques, along with discipleship to the Kriya line of Masters. The Kriya technique is not a “magic bullet” that will give one instant spiritual progress. It is effective only to the extent that the Kriya yogi practices it with awareness, sensitivity, and an open heart.
Ananda teaches the four techniques that encompass the Path of Kriya, just as Yogananda taught them: the Energization Exercises; the Hong-Sau Technique of Concentration; the Aum Technique of Meditation; and the Kriya technique. After establishing the first three techniques as part of a daily meditation practice, one can receive the Kriya technique. This process takes about a year, or more, depending on the student.
Discipleship and Kriya
Discipleship is an important part of the Path of Kriya. Discipleship means accepting the lineage of Kriya masters as your Gurus, or spiritual guides. Even though they are no longer living in a body, their inner guidance and support are felt by all who accept their help.
Ananda Kriya Yogis recognize Babaji, Christ, Lahiri Mahasaya, Sri Yukteswar, and Paramhansa Yogananda as their Gurus. You can learn more about all of them, and about the principles of discipleship, by reading Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi