Scientists have discovered that the arc of a modern human life can be measured like that of a hummingbird – by the tapping hammer of 1 billion heartbeats. Though at 1200 beats per minute a hummingbird’s heart reaches the 1 billion mark in a hurry, we humans have the capacity to slow down the hammer, and in doing so, extend life's experience in real time.
Kriya Yoga is one of the ways we have to slow the hammer. If you’ve never heard of Kriya Yoga, don’t be surprised. No, it’s not a new form of flow yoga. You probably won’t see classes being offered at your local health fitness club. And even though it's a very old form of yoga, it doesn’t usually show up on the list of typical disciplines written about on the Internet.
What is Kriya Yoga?
Kriya Yoga is an ancient system that was “revived in modern times by Mahavatar Babaji through his disciple Lahiri Mahasaya, c. 1861. To Westerners, it was brought into popular awareness through Paramahansa Yogananda's book Autobiography of a Yogi and through Yogananda's introductions of the practice since 1920.” (Source: Wikipedia) It is a branch of Raja Yoga that emphasizes actions or “kriyas.” When you implement productive actions to accomplish chosen goals, you set the stage for spontaneous spiritual awakening. It all started with Patanjali – he’s the ancient author of the Yoga Sutras which outline the philosophy of Yoga. While Socrates gave us the advice, "Know thyself," Patanjali showed us how to do it via the path of Yoga.
Looking at the literal meanings of the words…
Kriya means “to do, to make happen.” It refers to constructive actions performed to accomplish purposes, including spontaneous transformative actions which occur when soul forces are enlivened.
Yoga means “to yoke or unify.” It is the conscious unification of soul awareness with the one field of Consciousness or God.
So, really, Kriya Yoga is about your lifestyle and what you do to unify with the one field of Consciousness.
Kriya and Hatha
Practicing Kriya Yoga does not preclude you from practicing other forms of yoga. It is thoroughly complementary to Hatha Yoga, the most popular style and one that seeks to unify the body with mind and spirit.
According to Kriya Yoga teacher, Myrna King, “The benefits of 'exercise' or Hatha Yoga are well known – a stronger immune system, happy lymph nodes, long and strong muscles, and great balance. But the balance of a true yoga lifestyle includes a calm and happy mindset, a graceful alignment of your chosen aims with your life choices and relationships, and the spiritual evolution that yields new insights and a welcome joy with the way life unfolds.”
King became certified in Kriya Yoga when she was a teenager and has been practicing and teaching for more than thirty years. She says that Kriya Yoga teachers, both modern and ancient, promise that wholesome living, study of spiritual texts, systematic development of intellectual and intuitive capacities, coupled with proficient regular meditation can encourage the redemptive actions of grace and offer the possibility of significant spiritual growth, including complete self-realization.
If you have ever attended a Hatha Yoga class, you'll notice that it probably ended in a short meditation. Most yoga instructors end with the quieting and meditative Shavasana pose, some with the recitation of “OM,” and often with the parting greeting of "Namaste." These small introductions to the larger philosophy and lifestyle have led a growing percentage of yoga practitioners to explore and then embrace the totality of what yoga has to offer.
Through Kriya Yoga, you learn that yoga is more than healthy exercise. It's a whole lifestyle regimen, offering a healthy body and mind, as well as a profound connection to spirit. Imagine the hummingbird flapping its wings in slow motion, suspending time. Likewise, when you practice Kriya Yoga, you experience the slowing of time because the process of meditation slows the breathing, slows the pulse – it calms the body and the mind.
Practicing Kriya Yoga
To become a practitioner of this form of yoga, you would learn specific meditation methods and breathing techniques from a qualified teacher. So there is definitely a physical component.
But as King points out, a modern western interpretation of Kriya Yoga philosophy is the process of taking constructive action to accomplish spiritual purposes. She says that in everyday life, beyond meditation and yoga practices, this might look like consciously reaching out to someone who is feeling blue, when we ourselves are a bit down. The action that helps transform another's mood, transforms our mood too. Or when we feel in need of a friend, and decide to become a friend to someone else – a constructive action that positively impacts both people.
“Kriyas are actions that offer resistance, weakening and eventual removal of obstacles, allowing your life to be in tune with or aligned to your core mission and values,” says King.
The Kriya Yoga teacher would not just guide you with the physical manifestation of yoga/union through breathing and by meditatively slowing the hammer of 1 billion heartbeats in order to extend your life's experience in real time. But you would be guided in the use of action in your life’s experiences in order to attain spiritual yoga/union as well.
The Kriya Yoga philosophy says that spiritual practices along with constructive purposeful actions remind us that we are not just our body, and we are not just our minds, but the spirit that inhabits our bodies and minds. We are that which animates us. Connecting your internal spirit to actions that constructively change yourself and others, nurturing your own well being along the way is to experience Kriya Yoga in action in our modern world.
To learn more about Myrna King and her programs, go to https://www.popexpert.com/alifealigned.
Angela Loëb is an author, speaker and self-development consultant who loves to study, teach, and write about mind mastery, spirituality, career, and life purpose. More at http://about.me/angelarloeb