You have heard of an asana, but what is a kriya? The root word of Kriya is kri, meaning karma, in Sanskrit. In this sense, a kriya means a completed action, effort or deed which helps an aspirant achieve a certain goal. This is one meaning of kriya, but another is from kundalini yoga. In this case, a kriya is the spontaneous action or movement that occurs when the Kundalini Shakti is awakened from the root chakra.
Waking Up the Sleeping Serpent Energy
Kundalini is the active vital force. It is often described as a coiled snake, lying in wait until it can spring up to the crown chakra. It usually stays dormant in a practitioner, residing at the base of the spine near the coccyx, until certain activities like a kriya or an asana is practiced to help it ‘wake up’ and travel through the spinal column, through all seven chakras, arriving at the crown, where it ignites a divine spark, metaphorically speaking so that a yogi achieves nirvana, or eternal bliss.
Intentional and Non-Intentional Kriyas
When kriyas are practiced, they can be intentional, or as in the case of awakened kundalini yoga, they are the spontaneous movements, which happen to help clear out samskaras, or the remaining stuck energy in the physical body. This vital energy is very real, though it can’t be seen, or measured with medical devices to date. When it arrives at the pituitary and pineal glands in the center of the brain, it activates hormones like DMT, and seratonin which then activate brain centers that bring feelings of universality and utter joy to the person who has awakened their kundalini energy.
Mahavatar Babji actually practiced kriya yoga, which is a type of yoga meant for specifically this purpose. Kriya yoga can include meditation, asana, pranayama and a number of other practices. Lahiri Mahasaya once said, “And when this corruptible body re-covers of incorruptibility and this mortal body re-covers from immortality, then the world shall be fulfilled: that death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your sting? O hades, where is your victory.” Kriya yoga, is said, in fact to bring you eternal health and youth, as evidenced by numerous pictures of Mahavatar Babji looking much younger than his advanced years.
Kriya Yoga Practices
There is mention of a kriya yoga meditation in Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi. It is also mentioned by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, the epic story that all yogis should read at least once, even if they are not Hindu. By practicing a meditative breath, the ‘stale’ life force is revitalized so that all disease is eradicated from the body.
“After the mind has been cleared by Kriya Yoga of sensory obstacles, meditation furnishes a twofold proof of God. Ever-new joy is evidence of His existence, convincing to our very atoms. Also, in meditation one finds His constant guidance, His adequate response to every difficulty.”
—Sri Yukteswar, from Autobiography of a Yogi