Kriya yoga: origins, practice, benefits

Kriya yoga: origins, practice, benefits

Kriya yoga is linked to ancient tantric practices which include ritual actions including mantras, mudras, japas, asanas, breaths and other techniques. This practice represents an early form of Trimarga that incorporates elements from the three main Vedantic yogas.

Kriya yoga

The origins of  kriya yoga , like those of all classical forms of yoga, are rooted in myth and boast divine lineages. Let’s find out better what it is.

  • Meaning of k riya yoga
  • Origins and philosophy of k riya yoga
  • Practice
  • The benefits of k riya yoga
  • The teachers and the schools


Meaning of kriya yoga

Kriya yoga literally means ” union through a certain ritual action “. The term kriya is related to ancient tantric practices , and includes ritual actions which can include mantras , mudras, japa, asanas, breaths and other techniques. 


Origins and philosophy of k riya yoga

In its own way, kriya yoga represents an early form of Trimarga , as it incorporates elements from the three main Vedantic yogas. In fact, we find references to the devotional love typical of  Bhakti yoga , while from  Jnana yoga it does precisely the development of the discernment necessary for spiritual investigation, from Karma yoga  it finally takes the detachment from the fruits of actions. The transmission between pupil and teacher is direct. 

Let’s go back to 1861, when the mythical figure of  Mahavatar Babaji  appears to  Shri Shyamacharan Lahiri facing him as his disciple and asking him to spread his kriya yoga. Among his various students we find  Swami Shriyukteshwar Giri, an expert in interreligious and comparative communication between various knowledge and profound connoisseur of the Bhagavad Gita . He was among other things the direct guru of  Paramahamsa Yogananda , author of  Autobiography of a Yogi and  Swami Satyananda Giri , president of the Karar Ashram until 1971.


Strong practice is also the tantric influence , oriented towards liberation and the passage from “separative” awareness – characterized by the incessant movements of thought – to awakening or liberation through breath control, which makes the tantric aspect of kriya yoga completely vedantino.  

Kriya yoga involves body discipline, mind control and meditation on AUM (Om) . Om is the primordial sound that in meditation becomes a witness to the divine presence. The actual kriya initiation usually requires at least a year of daily practice of the basic techniques.

Along with the practice of the Om mantra, there are series of exercises , which vary from school to school, to achieve what is called ” recharge ” or ” energization “. Often these exercises are attributed to Paramahansa Yogananda even if there is no evidence about it. These are dynamic exercises which, after an invocation to cosmic energy , work on every part of the body with a kind of gentle gymnastics. During such exercises, the mind focuses on invoking cosmic energy into each individual part of the body.

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