"By the definite science of meditation known for millenniums to the yogis and sages of India, and to Jesus, any seeker of God can enlarge the calibre of his consciousness to omniscience to receive within himself the Universal Intelligence of God."
— Paramahansa Yogananda
Wisdom, creativity, security, happiness, unconditional love — is it really possible to find that which will bring us real and lasting joy?
Experiencing the divinity within our own souls, claiming divine joy as our own joy — this is what the Kriya Yoga teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda offer to each of us.
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. (Read “What Is Yoga, Really?”)
Kriya Yoga’s History
The illumined sages of India discovered the spiritual science of Kriya Yoga in the long forgotten past. Lord Krishna extols 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 make the ancient science of Kriya Yoga available to seekers around the world, and it was for this purpose that he established Yogoda Satsanga Society of India in 1917 and Self-Realization Fellowship in 1920.
Formerly available only to a faithful few who renounced the world and lived solitary lives as ascetics, the great ones of India have now made the ancient Kriya science available to all sincere seekers worldwide through the instrumentality of Paramahansa Yogananda and the spiritual organization he established (YSS/SRF).
Yogananda wrote: “In bestowing his blessings on me before I came to America in 1920, Mahavatar Babaji told me that I had been chosen for this sacred mission: ‘You are the one I have chosen to spread the message of Kriya Yoga in the West. Long ago I met your guru Yukteswar at a Kumbha Mela; I told him then I would send you to him for training.’ Babaji then predicted: ‘Kriya Yoga, the scientific technique of God-realization, will ultimately spread in all lands, and aid in harmonizing the nations through man’s personal, transcendental perception of the Infinite Father.’ ”
One of the essential goals of Paramahansa Yogananda’s mission was “to reveal the complete harmony and basic oneness of original Yoga as taught by Bhagavan Krishna and original Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ; and to show that these principles of truth are the common scientific foundation of all true religions.”
“Other devotees offer as sacrifice the incoming breath of prana in the outgoing breath of apana, and the outgoing breath of apana in the incoming breath of prana, thus arresting the cause of inhalation and exhalation (Rendering breath unnecessary) by intent practice of pranayama (the life-control technique of Kriya Yoga)”.
The Science of Kriya Yoga
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 characterises the particular system of meditation taught by Paramahansa Yogananda. Specifically, Kriya is an advanced Raja Yoga technique that reinforces and revitalises subtle currents of life energy in the body, enabling the normal activities of heart and lungs to slow down naturally. As a result, the consciousness is drawn to higher levels of perception, gradually bringing about an inner awakening more blissful and more deeply satisfying than any of the experiences that the mind or the senses or the ordinary human emotions can give. All scriptures declare man to be not a corruptible body, but a living soul. The ancient science of Kriya Yoga reveals a way to prove this scriptural truth. Referring to the sure and methodical efficacy of devoted practise of the Kriya science, Paramahansa Yogananda declared: "It works like mathematics; it cannot fail."
Meditation Techniques of the Kriya Yoga Path
‘God seeks willing hearts that He may give His bounties to them....’ That is most beautiful, and that is what I believe. God seeks willing hearts for the bestowal of His gifts. He is willing to give us everything, but we are not willing to make the effort to be receptive.”
Paramahansa Yogananda provides a description of Kriya Yoga in his Autobiography of a Yogi. The actual technique is given to students of the Yogoda Satsanga Lessons after a preliminary period of study and practise of the three preparatory techniques taught by Paramahansa Yogananda.
Taken together as a comprehensive system, these meditation techniques enable the practitioner to achieve the highest benefits and divine goal of the ancient yoga science.
1. Energization Exercises
A series of psychophysical exercises developed by Paramahansa Yogananda in 1916 to prepare the body for meditation. Regular practise promotes mental and physical relaxation and develops dynamic will power. Making use of the breath, life force, and concentrated attention, the technique enables one to draw abundant energy consciously into the body, purifying and strengthening all the body parts systematically in turn. The Energization Exercises, which take about 15 minutes to perform, are one of the most effective means of eliminating stress and nervous tension. Practising them prior to meditation is a great help in entering a calm, interiorised state of awareness.
2. Hong-Sau Technique of Concentration
Hong-Sau technique of concentration helps to develop one's latent powers of concentration. Through practise of this technique one learns to withdraw thought and energy from outward distractions so that they may be focused on any goal to be achieved or problem to be solved. Or one may direct that concentrated attention toward realising the Divine Consciousness within.
3. Aum Technique
Aum Technique of Meditation shows one how to use the power of concentration in the highest way to discover and develop the divine qualities of one's own true Self. This ancient method teaches how to experience the all-pervading Divine Presence as Aum, the Word or Holy Ghost that underlies and sustains all creation. The technique expands the awareness beyond limitations of body and mind to the joyous realization of one's infinite potential.
4. Kriya Yoga Technique
Kriya is an advanced Raja Yoga technique of pranayama (life-energy control). Kriya reinforces and revitalises 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 centres 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.
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.
How to Learn Kriya Yoga
The first step is to apply for the Yogoda Satsanga Lessons. In the first year of Lesson study at home, students learn three basic techniques of meditation (described above) and Paramahansaji’s principles of balanced spiritual living.
This gradual introduction has a purpose. A mountain climber seeking to scale the Himalayas must first acclimatise and condition himself before ascending the peaks. So the seeker needs this initial period to acclimatise his or her habits and thoughts, condition the mind with concentration and devotion, and practise directing the body’s life energy. Then the yogi is prepared to ascend the spinal highway of realization. After one year of preparation and practise, students are eligible to apply for initiation in the technique of Kriya Yoga, and formally establish the time-honoured guru-disciple relationship with Paramahansa Yogananda and his lineage of enlightened masters.
If you have not yet enrolled for the Yogoda Satsanga Lessons, you will find on these pages some initial instructions on how to meditate, which you can use right away to begin experiencing the benefits that meditation brings.
Kriya Yoga is the diksha (initiation) of Yogoda Satsanga Society. By receiving Kriya initiation, students enter into the sacred guru-disciple relationship, accepting Paramahansa Yogananda as their guru (spiritual guide). Read more on the guru-disciple relationship.