What is Kriya Yoga?
In tantra, there are many methods which awaken kundalini, and out of them all, the practice of kriya yoga is considered to be most powerful. In India, the science of kriya yoga was not known for many years, because it was never published. It was handed down traditionally from guru to disciple. Disciples, both householder and monastic, practiced this kriya yoga in yoga teacher training India and they found that through this practice, the awakening of kundalini became a real and living experience.
You know that in this physical body you have six main chakras or junctures of energy situated within the framework of the spine. The first center is at the root of the tailbone. (I am talking about the physiology.) The sixth center is at the top, at the terminating point of the spine. In between these two, there are lour other centers, one in the sacral region, another in the solar plexus, another in the cardiac plexus and another in the cervical plexus.
These six centers are linked by three pathways of energy, which emanate from the first center below the tail bone. They are known as Pingala – the pathway for prana; ida- the pathway for mind and consciousness, and sushumna – the pathway for higher consciousness, that is, the Self. The purpose of kriya yoga is, therefore, to create an awakening in these chakras, to purify these pathways, and finally, to awaken the kundalini shakti, the evolutionary force in man.
Kriyas and Practices
There are many kriyas, many practices, but out of all these, a combination of seventeen is considered to be most powerful and effective. These seventeen practices are divided into two groups. One group is to be done with the eyes open and the other with the eyes closed. You may have come across a reference to this theme in the New Testament of the Bible, which speaks of a ladder from earth to heaven, divided into seven rungs. And in the practice of kriya yoga, you climb half these steps with the eyes open and the other half with the eyes closed.
What does this mean? It means that out of these seventeen practices, you should do nine with the eyes open. Do not close your eyes during the first nine practices; that is the central instruction of kriya yoga. When I taught kriya yoga I found that people have a general tendency to close their eyes because it feels more relaxed, but again and again, we keep reminding them, ‘No, do not close your eyes.’ You may blink, you may rest your eyes, but every practice up to the tenth has to be done with eyes open. That is point number one and it is very important.
Point number two: if you feel uncomfortable and you want to change your posture during the practice of kriya yoga, you can change it. You do not need to maintain the same posture if it is uncomfortable. Point number three: you do not waste time in trying to control the mind during these practices. This is considered to be the most important point in kriya yoga and in Tantra.