Yoga is a Sanskrit word and literally means ‘union’. It is a very ancient practice and documentary evidence has put it at, at least 3000 years old, although the practice is much older.
The definition of yoga is difficult to give because the same yoga when applied differently can benefit the body, the mind, the heart and the emotion. Moreover, although yoga as such is a single concept, there are a number of different methods of practice. Kriya yoga is one such method.
What is kriya yoga?
Kriya yoga was traditionally associated with religious activities, although nowadays, people practice it for its health benefits rather than for its religious symbolism. Defining kriya yoga is difficult simply because it is even more general in concept than other kinds of meditative yoga practices. The simplest definition for kriya yoga would be the practice of anything that increases self-awareness and awareness of the cosmos around us. This may be a difficult concept to understand, but in a nutshell, this is what kriya yoga is.
Kriya yoga technique:
The practice of kriya yoga meditation technique is very similar to other kinds of yoga. Traditionally, kriya yoga was taught by a master to his disciple. Many practitioners include some form of yogic exercises before starting kriya yoga because it helps them invigorate themselves for the actual meditation.
There are a number of different gurus who teach kriya yoga, and the specifics may differ from guru to guru. Kriya yoga was supposed to have been passed down from Lord Krishna to Arjuna (in the epic Mahabharata) and supposedly died out over the years, along the way.
Listed below is a step by step process for kriya yoga:
- Sit in a comfortable position with the knees at a level below the pelvis (such as on a cushion or a low stool)
- Place your arms on a comfortable position (traditionally in the lotus position with the fingers entwined and the thumbs lightly touching each other)
- Relax the body, but make sure that the spine is held straight and stacked.
- Close your eyes or keep them downcast or focused a couple of feet in front of you.
- Spend five minutes on just relaxing your body. Consciously relax all the major muscle groups.
- Try to relax the mind by focusing on one thought. If other thoughts intrude let them pass, but always come back to the thought you want to focus on.
- Do this for twenty minutes.
The benefits of Kriya yoga:
Yoga itself has a number of health benefits, but recently, however, clinical trials have established that yoga does indeed provide as much, if not more benefits than medicines do.
In one study, it was noted that kriya yoga was able to bring down hypertension in patients. It was found that there was a significant decrease in diastolic blood pressure, serum uria, and plasma MDA, which is an oxidative stress marker.
One of the advantages of kriya yoga was that unlike medication, values within the normal range were unaltered. Only higher values were brought within the normal range, and therefore, kriya yoga works differently on the body than medication does.
Helps with depression–
Kriya yoga has also been found to be very effective in treating depression. The breathing exercises that are conducted as part of kriya yoga have both a calming effect as well as a stimulating effect on the mind. Even one session of kriya yoga is supposed to benefit. In one study conducted on first time yoga practitioners, it was found that there was a 67% reduction in anxiety and depression.
Kriya yoga also seems to have a positive impact on mood. Studies conducted in Germany show that women who practiced yoga achieved a 50% improvement in depression, 30% improvement in anxiety, and 65% improvement in their overall well-being after 3 months of yoga therapy, when compared to the control group.
Increases stress threshold —
Are there any dangers to Kriya yoga?Kriya yoga is absolutely safe for everybody. Anyone who has an inclination towards better health of mind and body can practice it. The only thing that you need to be aware of is that you should always learn the practice from a reputed guru. The reason for this is that self-awareness brings with it complications that can very well unhinge an unprepared person (someone who does not receive guidance from a learned guru). If you want to practice yoga yourself, it is better to try mindfulness meditation or practice asanas (postures).
Yoga is based on love and understanding and awareness of oneself is achieved by understanding our place in this universe.