Yoga is an ancient Indian tradition dating back thousands of years. Even in ancient times, India was a pluralist society which meant that one was free to pursue their own path towards spirituality and ultimate liberation. This gave birth to many forms of yoga and kriya yoga was one of them.
Unlike hatha yoga that uses asanas or physical activity as a means to self-realization, kriya yoga consists of a number of levels of pranayama, mantra, and mudra based on techniques. Many of kriya yoga practices focus on meditation and the breath to elevate your energies. Though it is not very physical in nature, kriya yoga offers many benefits to its practitioners.
1. Physical Changes
One the immediate physical benefits of kriya yoga include an improvement in your health, even the healing of long-term physical illnesses. This is because kriya works on the energy level to bring balance and harmony. Your physical body, which is linked directly to your energy body, also begins to benefit from the flow of energy allowing it to heal itself.
The focus on the breath in kriya yoga also has a direct effect on your lungs. Your lungs begin to expand increasing your ability to breathe better and reduce symptoms of respiratory illness. Both breath work and physical postures aid in relaxing the muscles of the body to increase flexibility.
2. Emotional And Mental Changes
One of biggest problems plaguing humanity is our uncontrollable emotions. A single thought or a harsh word can make you can go from cheerful to sad in a moment. Kriya yoga has the ability to change negative emotions and thought patterns into more positive ones. This is often brought about by breath work that relaxes your body and mind.
By creating a calm environment in which your thoughts are free to come and go, you begin to realize that your thoughts hold no sway over you. Kriya yoga increases your overall awareness so that you are in a better position to identify where your thoughts are coming from and whether you need to engage with them or not.
3. Spiritual Changes
Though yoga offers practitioners physical and mental benefits, the reality is that these are fringe benefits of a deeply spiritual practice. Kriya yoga is also designed as a practice for spiritual development. This form of yoga believes that with each inhalation and exhalation of breath, it is believed that the physical body becomes one with the soul to help us evolve as human, spiritual beings.
The increased sense of awareness that you develop, along with a calming state of mind makes you more compassionate and understanding of other people as well as more gentle to yourself. As you practice kriya yoga, you will find that being helpful to others will come naturally to you. You stop thinking in terms of doing and receiving favors and begin to find joy in giving unconditionally.
4. Energy Changes
Kriya is an energy-based yoga system and practicing it regularly unblock energies in the body, or chakras, offering immediate and long-term changes. It is a system that believes that the lack of energy, focus, or joy in your life is a result of not just physical, mental, and emotionally blockage but also energy blockage. Kriya helps to unblock the energetic chakras by activating the kundalini energy that is lying dormant at the base of your spine.
Kriya yoga is a slow and gentle process that requires time, patience, and practice. It’s not for you if you’re looking for a toned body or a sweaty session at the studio. Practitioners are usually initiated into the practice by an accomplished master and taught specific techniques which need to be practiced every day. Because it is an energy based practice, it’s best that kriya yoga is done under the guidance of an experienced teacher.