What Exactly is Yoga
As Explained by Yogananda paramhansa
Yoga is a simple process of reversing the ordinary outward flow of energy and consciousness so that the mind becomes a dynamic center of direct perception no longer dependent upon the fallible senses but capable of actually experiencing Truth.
The word yoga itself means "union": of the individual consciousness or soul with the Universal Consciousness or Spirit. Though many people think of yoga only as physical exercises — the asanas or postures that have gained widespread popularity in recent decades — these are actually only the most superficial aspect of this profound science of unfolding the infinite potentials of the human mind and soul.
What is Kriya Yoga
The sacred science of Kriya Yoga consists of advanced techniques of meditation whose devoted practice leads to realization of God and liberation of the soul from all forms of bondage. It is the royal or supreme technique of yoga, divine union.
The illumined sages of India discovered the spiritual science of Kriya Yoga in the long forgotten past. Lord Krishna explains it in the Bhagavad Gita. The sage Patanjali speaks of it in his Yoga Sutras. Paramahansa Yogananda has stated that this ancient meditation method was also known to Jesus Christ, as well as to disciples such as St. John, St. Paul, and others.
Kriya Yoga was lost for centuries in the dark ages, and reintroduced in modern times by Mahavatar Babaji, whose disciple Lahiri Mahasaya (1828–1895) was the first to teach it openly in our era. Later, Babaji asked Lahiri Mahasaya's disciple, Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri (1855–1936), to train Paramahansa Yogananda and send him to the West to give this soul-revealing technique to the world.
Paramahansa Yogananda was chosen by his venerable line of gurus to bring the ancient science of Kriya Yoga to the West, and it was for this purpose that he established Self-Realization Fellowship in 1920.
Paramahansa Yogananda provides a description of Kriya Yoga in his Autobiography of a Yogi.
Looking Inwards than Outwards
Most of us are accustomed to looking outside of ourselves for fulfillment. We are living in a world that conditions us to believe that outer attainments can give us what we want. Yet again and again our experiences show us that nothing external can completely fulfill the deep longing within for "something more." Most of the time, however, we find ourselves striving toward that which always seems to lie just beyond our reach. We are caught up in doing rather than being, in action rather than awareness. It is hard for us to picture a state of complete calmness and repose in which thoughts and feelings cease to dance in perpetual motion. Yet it is through such a state of quietude that we can touch a level of joy and understanding impossible to achieve otherwise.
Science of Yoga
It is said in the Bible: "Be still and know that I am God." In these few words lies the key to the science of Yoga. This ancient spiritual science offers a direct means of stilling the natural turbulence of thoughts and restlessness of body that prevent us from knowing what we really are.
Ordinarily our awareness and energies are directed outward, to the things of this world, which we perceive through the limited instruments of our five senses. Because human reason has to rely upon the partial and often deceptive data supplied by the physical senses, we must learn to tap deeper and more subtle levels of awareness if we would solve the enigmas of life — Who am I? Why am I here? How do I realize Truth?
In past centuries many of the higher techniques of Yoga were little understood or practiced, owing to mankind's limited knowledge of the forces that run the universe. But today scientific investigation is rapidly changing the way we view ourselves and the world. The traditional materialistic conception of life has vanished with the discovery that matter and energy are essentially one: every existing substance can be reduced to a pattern or form of energy, which interacts and interconnects with other forms. Some of today's most celebrated physicists go a step further, identifying consciousness as the fundamental ground of all being. Thus modern science is confirming the ancient principles of Yoga, which proclaim that unity pervades the universe.
What are Kriya Yoga - Gold lotus rules
From the writings of Paramahansa Yogananda:
"As a first step toward entering the kingdom of God, the devotee should sit still in the correct meditation posture, with erect spine, and tense and relax the body — for by relaxation the consciousness is released from the muscles.
"The yogi begins with proper deep breathing, inhaling and tensing the whole body, exhaling and relaxing, several times. With each exhalation all muscular tension and motion should be cast away, until a state of bodily stillness is attained.
"Then, by concentration techniques, restless motion is removed from the mind. In perfect stillness of body and mind, the yogi enjoys the ineffable peace of the presence of the soul.
"In the body, life is templed; in the mind, light is templed; in the soul, peace is templed. The deeper one goes into the soul the more that peace is felt; that is superconsciousness.
"When by deeper meditation the devotee expands that awareness of peace and feels his consciousness spreading with it over the universe, that all beings and all creation are swallowed up in that peace, then he is entering into Cosmic Consciousness.
He feels that peace everywhere — in the flowers, in every human being, in the atmosphere. He beholds the earth and all worlds floating like bubbles in that ocean of peace."
One of the first requisites for meditation is correct posture. The spine should be erect. When the devotee is seeking to direct his mind and life force upward through the cerebrospinal axis to the centers of higher consciousness in the brain, he should avoid stricture or pinching of the spinal nerves caused by improper posture.
Sit on a Straight Armless Chair
Simple cross-legged meditation posture Meditating with Straight Armless ChairThose persons whose legs are supple may prefer to meditate sitting cross-legged on a cushion on the floor, or on a firm bed.
Recommended Meditation Posture:
Sit on a straight armless chair with the feet resting flat on the floor. Hold spine erect, abdomen in, chest out, shoulders back, chin parallel to the ground. The hands, with palms upturned, should rest on the legs at the juncture of the thighs and the abdominal region to prevent the body from bending forward.
If the correct posture has been assumed, the body will be stable yet relaxed, so that it is easily possible to remain completely still, without moving a muscle.
Now, close your eyes and gently lift your gaze upward, without straining, to the point between the eyebrows — the seat of concentration, and of the spiritual eye of divine perception.
“If the beginner yogi sits on the hard floor to meditate he will find his legs going to sleep, owing to pressure on his flesh and arteries. If he sits on a blanket over a spring pad or mattress, on the floor, or over a hard bed, he will not experience discomfort in his legs. A Westerner, used to sitting on chairs with his thighs at a right angle to his torso, will find it more comfortable to meditate on a chair with a woolen blanket and silk cloth under him, extending under his feet which rest on the floor. Those Western yogis, especially youths, who can squat on the floor like Orientals, will find their knees pliable, owing to their ability to fold their legs in an acute angle. Such yogis may meditate in the lotus posture, or in the more simple cross-legged position.
Cautions Regarding Kriya Yoga Posture
“No one should try to meditate in the lotus posture unless he is at ease in that position. To meditate in a strained posture keeps the mind on the discomfort of the body. Meditation should ordinarily be practiced in a sitting position. Obviously, in a standing posture (unless one is advanced) he may fall down when the mind becomes interiorized. Neither should the yogi meditate lying down, for he might resort to the ‘practiced’ state of slumber.
“The proper bodily posture, one which produces calmness in body and mind, is necessary to help the yogi shift his mind from matter to Spirit.”
How to start Kriya - A Beginner’s Meditation
After you are established in the meditation posture, begin by offering God a prayer from your heart, expressing your devotion and asking His blessings on your meditation.
2) Tense and Relax to Remove All Stress
Inhale, tensing the whole body and clenching the fists.
Relax all the body parts at once and, as you do so, expel the breath through the mouth in a double exhalation, "huh, huh."
Repeat this practice three to six times.
Then forget the breath. Let it flow in and out naturally, of its own accord, as in ordinary breathing.
3) Focus Attention at the Spiritual Eye
With the eyelids half closed (or completely closed, if this is more comfortable to you), look upward, focusing the gaze and the attention as though looking out through a point between the eyebrows. (A person deep in concentration often "knits" his brows at this spot.) Do not cross the eyes or strain them; the upward gaze comes naturally when one is relaxed and calmly concentrated.
Focus attention at the Spiritual EyeWhat is important is fixing the whole attention at the point between the eyebrows. This is the Christ Consciousness center, the seat of the single eye spoken of by Jesus: "The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light" (Matthew 6:22).
When the purpose of meditation is fulfilled, the devotee finds his consciousness automatically concentrated at the spiritual eye, and he experiences, according to his inner spiritual capacity, a state of joyous divine union with Spirit.
It takes deep concentration and calmness to behold the spiritual eye: a golden halo surrounding a circle of blue, in the center of which palpitates a five-pointed white star. Those who do see the spiritual eye should strive to penetrate it by deeper concentration and by devoted prayer to God. The depth of calmness and concentration necessary for this are naturally developed through steady practice of the scientific Self-Realization Fellowship techniques of concentration and meditation [which are taught in the Self-Realization Fellowship Lessons].
4) Pray Deeply to God in the Language of Your Own Heart
Whether you see the light of the spiritual eye or not, however, you should continue to concentrate at the Christ Consciousness center between the eyebrows, praying deeply to God and His great saints. In the language of your heart invoke Their presence and Their blessings.
5) Daily Practice as Preparation for the Deeper Techniques
The meditation period should last at least thirty minutes in the morning and thirty minutes at night. The longer you sit, enjoying the state of meditative calm, the faster you will progress spiritually. Carry into your daily activities the calmness you feel in meditation; that calmness will help you to bring harmony and happiness into every department of your life.
Pray Deeply to God in the Language of Your Own HeartThrough daily practice of the foregoing instructions, you can prepare yourself for the practice of the deeper techniques of concentration and meditation that are given in the Self-Realization Fellowship Lessons. These scientific techniques will enable you to dive ever more deeply in the great ocean of God's presence. We all exist at this very moment in that ocean of Spirit; but only by steadfast, devoted, scientific meditation may we consciously perceive that we are individualized soul waves on the vast ocean of God's bliss.
Kriya Yoga - Eradicate Bad Mental Habits and Karma
“Each of bad habits creates a specific ‘groove,’ or pathway, in the brain. These patterns make you behave in a certain way, often against your wish. Your life follows those grooves that you yourself have created in the brain. In that sense you are not a free person; you are more or less a victim of the habits you have formed. Depending on how set those patterns are, to that degree you are a puppet. But you can neutralize the dictates of those bad habits. How? By creating brain patterns of opposite good habits. And you can completely erase the grooves of bad habits by meditation. There is no other way. However, you can’t cultivate good habits without good company and good environment. And you can’t free yourself from bad habits without good company and meditation....
“Every time you meditate deeply on God, beneficial changes take place in the patterns of your brain. Suppose you are a financial failure or a moral failure or a spiritual failure. Through deep meditation, affirming, ‘I and my Father are one,’ you will know that you are the child of God. Hold on to that ideal. Meditate until you feel a great joy. When joy strikes your heart, God has answered your broadcast to Him; He is responding to your prayers and positive thinking. This is a distinct and definite method:
“First, meditate upon the thought, ‘I and my Father are one,’ trying to feel a great peace, and then a great joy in your heart. When that joy comes, say, ‘Father, Thou art with me. I command Thy power within me to cauterize my brain cells of wrong habits and past seed tendencies.’ The power of God in meditation will do it. Rid yourself of the limiting consciousness that you are a man or a woman; know that you are the child of God. Then mentally affirm and pray to God: ‘I command my brain cells to change, to destroy the grooves of bad habits that have made a puppet out of me. Lord, burn them up in Thy divine light.’ And when you will practice the Self-Realization techniques of meditation, especially Kriya Yoga, you will actually see that light of God baptizing you.
Kriya Yoga — Highest Method of God Contact
“Kriya Yoga is the highest method of God contact. In my own search for God ( Shri Yogananda Paramhansa), I traveled all over India, and heard wisdom from the lips of a number of her greatest masters. I can therefore vouch for the fact that in Self-Realization teachings are the highest truths and scientific techniques given to mankind by God and the Great Ones.
“The aftereffects of Kriya bring with them the utmost peace and bliss. The joy that comes with Kriya is greater than the joys of all pleasurable physical sensations put together. ‘Unattracted to the sensory world, the yogi experiences the ever new joy inherent in the Self. Engaged in divine union of the soul with Spirit, he attains bliss indestructible’ (Bhagavad Gita V:21). From that joy experienced in meditation I receive the rest of a thousand sleeps. Sleep becomes virtually unnecessary to the advanced Kriya Yogi.
“When by Kriya Yoga the devotee enters samadhi, wherein his eyes, breath, and heart are quieted, another world comes into view. Breath, sound, and movement of the eyes belong to this world. But the yogi who has control of the breath may enter the heavenly astral and causal worlds and commune there with God’s saints, or enter cosmic consciousness and commune with God. The yogi is not interested in anything else.
“Whoever will give less importance to everything else, remembering what I have said, will get to God without fail.”
— Paramahansa Yogananda,
What are Benefits of Kriya Yoga
“Those who practice the technique of Kriya deeply for even a little while, and sit long in meditation in the resultant stillness, find that the force of their prayer is doubled, trebled, a hundred times more powerful. If one enters the inner temple of silence and worships before the altar of God with prayer and invocation of His presence, he comes quickly. When the consciousness is withdrawn from the sensory surface of the body and its surroundings and centralized in the cerebrospinal shrines of soul perception, that is the most effective time to pray.”
— Paramahansa Yogananda,
What is Kriya Yoga Technique
Kriya is an advanced Raja Yoga technique of pranayama (life-energy control). Kriya reinforces and revitalizes subtle currents of life energy (prana) in the spine and brain. The ancient seers of India (rishis) perceived the brain and spine as the tree of life. Out of the subtle cerebrospinal centers of life and consciousness (chakras) flow the energies that enliven all the nerves and every organ and tissue of the body. The yogis discovered that by revolving the life current continuously up and down the spine by the special technique of Kriya Yoga, it is possible to greatly accelerate one's spiritual evolution and awareness.
The Correct practice of Kriya Yoga enables the normal activities of the heart and lungs and nervous system to slow down naturally, producing deep inner stillness of body and mind and freeing the attention from the usual turbulence of thoughts, emotions, and sensory perceptions. In the clarity of that inner stillness, one comes to experience a deepening interior peace and attunement with one's soul and with God.
What is Patanjali’s Eightfold Path of Yoga:
Yama (moral conduct): noninjury to others, truthfulness, nonstealing, continence, and noncovetousness
Niyama (religious observances): purity of body and mind, contentment in all circumstances, self-discipline, self-study (contemplation), and devotion to God and guru
Asana: right posture
Pranayama: control of prana, the subtle life currents in the body
Pratyahara: interiorization through withdrawal of the senses from external objects
Dharana: focused concentration; holding the mind to one thought or object
Dhyana: meditation, absorption in the vast perception of God in one of His infinite aspects — Bliss, Peace, Cosmic Light, Cosmic Sound, Love, Wisdom, etc. — all-pervading throughout the whole universe
Samadhi: superconscious experience of the oneness of the individualized soul with Cosmic Spirit
What are Various Types of Yoga
There are various paths of Yoga that lead toward this goal, each one a specialized branch of one comprehensive system:
Hatha Yoga — a system of physical postures, or asanas, whose higher purpose is to purify the body, giving one awareness and control over its internal states and rendering it fit for meditation.
Karma Yoga — selfless service to others as part of one's larger Self, without attachment to the results; and the performance of all actions with the consciousness of God as the Doer.
Mantra Yoga — centering the consciousness within through japa, or the repetition of certain universal root-word sounds representing a particular aspect of Spirit.
Bhakti Yoga — all-surrendering devotion through which one strives to see and love the divinity in every creature and in everything, thus maintaining an unceasing worship.
Jnana (Gyana) Yoga — the path of wisdom, which emphasizes the application of discriminative intelligence to achieve spiritual liberation.
Raja Yoga — the royal or highest path of Yoga, immortalized by Bhagavan Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita and formally systematized in the second century B.C. by the Indian sage Patanjali, which combines the essence of all the other paths.
Paramahansa Yogananda's "God Talks With Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita"At the heart of the Raja Yoga system, balancing and unifying these various approaches, is the practice of definite, scientific methods of meditation that enable one to perceive, from the very beginning of one's efforts, glimpses of the ultimate goal — conscious union with the inexhaustibly blissful Spirit.
The quickest and most effective approach to the goal of Yoga employs those methods of meditation that deal directly with energy and consciousness. It is this direct approach that characterizes Kriya Yoga, the particular form of Raja Yoga meditation taught by Paramahansa Yogananda.