"As oil in a sesamum seeds, as butter in cream, as water in riverbeds, as fire in friction sticks, so is the Self seized in one's own soul if one looks for Him with truthfulness and austerity." - Svetasvatara Upanishad I.15











YOGA FROM THE SHORE TO SHORESwami Satyananda Saraswati|Kriya Yoga  





               KRIYA YOGA




     There is a school of yoga which concerns itself with psychological circuits of mind and emphasizes one-pointedness of concentration in meditation and the withdrawal of the mind from external objects. This system of yoga has become very popular all over the world and most people know something about it. The method is to look at an object, close the eyes, withdraw the mind, forget everything, enter into meditation and pass into samadhi. This is a very popular system of meditation, but has anyone practiced it with success to this day?


     If the practitioners of this type of meditation were brought to a scientist and be were to investigate the condition of their brain during this so-called meditation, it would reveal no remarkable change from normal consciousness. This would show that although their mind is withdrawn from external objects, the state they experience is not meditation but sleep.


     Concentration of mind or meditation practiced with effort can never lead to real meditation, but only to tension and deep sleep. This is the problem of yoga and the problem everybody has come across who has been trying to practice meditation for a long time. But now I am going to talk about a different branch of yoga, which does not presuppose one-pointedness, concentration of mind or withdrawal of consciousness from external phenomena. This branch of yoga is kriya yoga.


     Kriya yoga is one of the easiest and most powerful of the methods known to us in yoga. The kriya practices neither demand one steady pose nor concentration of the mind; even if one is unable to concentrate on one point and the mind is just jumping all about, it does not matter in kriya; we let it do so. In fact, in kriya you are not trying to withdraw your mind to one-pointedness, but you are actually trying to make movements, you create motion in the realm of your mind. In kriya you do not concentrate the mind but you move the mind from one point to another in particular order, which you should not lose sight of.


     The word "kriya" means mental activity or activity of consciousness. In contrast to the other branches of yoga, in kriya you are not trying to quiet the mind, but to create activity to the mind. This brings about the development of certain parts of the brain, activity in the nervious system and awakening of mental energies.


     The practices of kriya are described in the Sanskrit texts of tantric literature, a few of which were translated by Sir John Woodroffe and which are now available in French, German and English.The total number of kriya practices is 76. Out of these, 27 are already known to most teachers of kriya. We can begin with 5 or 7 kriyas, but those who are eager to do kriya yoga itself will have to go through much preparation before they can even plan to learn it, or before they need a Teacher.


     The preparations for kriya yoga are perfection of breath consciousness, discovery of the psychic passage and preliminary kriya methods. Also, the aspirant of kriya yoga should have proficiency in a few mudras and bandhas.


     First, I will explain breath consciousness in a few words. With your eyes open or closed, with your mind concentrated or oscillating, in lotus posture, standing or sitting - as you like, just become aware of the fact "I am breathing in and l am breathing out". Keep this consciousness of breath uninterruptedly for 3 minutes at one stretch and then make a break. You don't have to sit separately or exclusively for meditation. Even now while you are listening to my speech you can maintain this awareness of your breath uninterruptedly and then after 3 minutes you can stop breath awareness.


     When you are aware of breath you are aware of your mind; awareness of your breath is awareness of your own consciousness and it is awareness of your awareness. Whether you concentrate or not it does not matter, but remember the moment that you become aware of your mind, of your consciousness, and you are aware of your awareness. This point you must remember again and again.


     The next preparation is to discover the psychic passage, the pathway or road through which the breath, or psychic consciousness, can flow up and down. The path is the spinal cord from the bottom to top, to the point where the pineal gland is situated. In this psychic path you practice the conscious breathing with eyes open, and most important you develop a consciousness of movement. There must be awareness of movement, up and down, and this movement is called kriya in yoga.


     By this circulation of mind and consciousness from bottom to top and from top to bottom of the spinal cord, we awaken vitality and a magnetic current there; alto we bring about revitalization of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous syitem which control the whole nervous balance. So I have described one of the kriya practices. We pass our awareness from the bottom to the top of tbe spinal cord 50 times. This practice is vеrу beneficial for people who suffer from mental breakdown, nervous imbalance, neurosis, anxiety and nervous trembling.


     At the base of the spine there is a very important centre which in yoga is known as mooladbara cbakra, and it is situated in the perineum, i.e. in the area between tho urinary and excretory systems. This is a very vital point and organ in the body.


     The parasympathetic nervous system connects tbe braia with the rest of tbe body through two centres. One centre is this mooladbara cbakra, and from here impulses are conducted through tbe parasympathetic nervous system right into tbe brain. At the top of the spinal cord is the other very important conducting centre - the pineal gland, which in yoga we call the ajna chakra. Thus ajna chakra and mooladbara chakra are both carriers of impulses to the brain. The impulses travel through the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls tbe whole endocrine system of tbe body.


     In addition to these two vital centres at the base and top of the spine there are other centres situated in the spinal cord; swadhisthana in the sacral region, manipura in tbe solar plexus region, anahata in the cardiac region and vishuddbi in the cervical region. These are four very vital centres in the body and these connect the brain with the body through tbe sympathetic nervous system.


     The influx of our body sensations are carried from these four spinal centres via the sympathetic nervous system, and from the mooladhara and ajna centres via the parasympathetic nervous system to the brain. These centres carry shakti, or vital energy, and we stimulate this shakti by breathing in and out through this psychic path of the spine. The name of this practice, which is preparatory to kriya yoga, is ajapa japa.


     The next preparation is the practice of mudras and bandbas. You must master them very well. Tbe important bandhas are jalandhara bandba or locking the chin, uddiyana bandba or withdrawing tbe sacral plexus, and mooladhara bandba or moola bandha, or controlling the inflexions of the mooladhara chakra or the base centre. When one completes these preparations he can start the practice of kriya yoga with a master who knows the science very well and who can teach him what he needs out of the 76, or the 27 kriya techniques.


     I have been engaged in much research into the influence of yoga on the human body and brain, and I have had some very encouraging results. For instance, I have sometimes given kriyas to people suffering from suicidal complexes and terrific neuroses. I did not teach them the whole of kriya yoga, but just one or two kriyas and from their practice they gained a new lease of life. I shall not go into deeper details of kriya yoga, but I shall just give you a very simple technique. Sit in any asana, the lotus or the siddhasana are best. Place both your hands on the knees and do nothing but concentrate on the perineum, the area between the excretory and the urinary systems. Very slowly contract it and then very slowly release it. Do this 50 times and then see what has happened to your depression. I wonder if you will suffer from depressions ever again.


     This technique of moola bandha is not very difficult and is not actual kriya yoga, but it is most important in that it awakens the vitality or the pranashakti, which is lying dormant at the bottom point of the spine in all of us. This vitality is known as kundalini or the serpent power. I am giving this technique especially to those people suffering from nervous disorders aod breakdowns, and the resulting tendency to commit suicide and to do all kinds of things to escape from life. I also suggest that people who have very restless and disturbed minds, who cannot concentrate even for a fraction of a second, should practice this technique. If, after practicing this, their mind is still agitated, they should try another exercise - vajroli. Here one concentrates on the lower abdomen or at the base of the urinary system and one slowly draws in the body there. Draw in the bladder, urinary system, kidneys and the whole of that area and then slowly relax it. One should contract and relax that area 25 times. Those who suffer from serious disorders, physical, mental and emotional, caused by sex neurosis or from problems with hormones, e. g. blocks in hormone secretions, should practice this particular kriya or movement. This is because the pituitary gland, known in yoga as sahasrara chakra (the thousand petalled lotus) is directly connected with the functioning of the urinary system, the kidneys and the genito-ovarian system. The posterior lobe of the pituitary produces two kinds of set hormones, and by doing this particular kriya you not only control these particular organs in the lower body but you also control and regulate the hormone secretion in the brain.


     There is nothing secret in kriya yoga. I could tell you everything about it tonight, but one night is not enough. I need at least 7 days to teach you, and for certain I shall not teach it to you on this visit.


     But it is a common idea there is something secret in kriya yoga which the masters keep to themselves, and that everybody is not qualified for kriya yoga practice. This is a myth. Also, it is commonly believed kriya yoga should not be practiced by householders, by married people who do not keep brahmacharya or so-called celibacy. If this were so, I think that not only no man in Denmark but no man in the whole world would be qualified for kriya yoga.


     It is my belief the state of celibacy is unrelated to sexual life, but that brahmacharya means the conservation of the highest vitality not in the genital region but in the brain. The posterior pituitary produces hormones which are conducted to the gonads and ovaries and these produce the whole of what we call the marital and sexual life. It is therefore what happens in the brain which is of great importance, not what you lose in the sexual act. These hormones within the brain can be preserved not by sо-саlled brahmacharya or philosophy, but only by concentration or meditation or by the very powerful forms of vitality generated through kriya yoga.


     Therefore it is a complete misunderstanding that kriya yoga, or any other yoga, is only for unmarried people and forbidden for those leading the marital life. It is not at all so. In tbe system of tantra, which contains much concerning kriya yoga, this is stated very clearly. It says, "Whether those who aspire to the awakening of the great shakti in themselves are married or unmarried, they are qualified for initiation into tbe practice» of kriya yoga".


     I have been conducting classes for years on concentration and meditation, and also classes in kriya yoga. There seems to be a remarkable difference between the two. After 5 minutes of concentration and meditation, people start scratching and moving, and simply get tired. But when in kriya yoga I ask them not to close their eyes or concentrate, and to move their body when they like, you will be surprised to hear that after 12 minutes they close their eyes and go into meditation aod I have to pull them out of meditation. It is the remarkable difference between the systems of concentration and meditation and kriya yoga, which involves the movement of consciousness.


     In kriya yoga there are certain techniques for movement of consciousness, when I will ask you: "Please do not close your eyes during these exercises," but I assure you after 15 minutes your eyes will be closed and if I ask you what you are doing you will say "Swamiji, I am in a mood of mediation I cannot go further with this kriya. It is impossible." I say "No, please keep your eyes open and do not go into meditation. Remain out, do not go in." But you will say "Swamiji, please let me go in, I can't remain out." Have you ever known a system of meditation like kriya yoga, where in spite of the pull of the guru, the disciple is just pushing himself inside?


     Kriya yoga practices are casual, neither very systematic nor very serious. You do not sit down and tense your body, no! The kriyas are as casual as when you talk to your son or husband or wife or when you read some book. In that same casual, relaxed way you sit down and start moving your consciousness.


     What I am about to say is not in favour of L.S.D., don't mistake me, but those who have had L.S.D. experiences, when they practice kriya yoga, say that at the end of kriya practice they have a very good trip. But whereas the L.S.D. trip is not under one's control, in kriya yoga he is in complete control. Just as the astronauts are brought back from the moon, you can bring your mind back from its heightened state to normal work at any moment. In kriya, the bindings of time and space are transcended but not the awareness; you are not lost in that so-called unknown and delusive eternity, your feet are completely and firmly planted. If you have no particular job to do, and no responsibility and obligation towards your family, job and business, the moment you have finished kriya yoga practices you can sit in meditation for 10 hours, no problem; and if you do have responsibilities towards your family, job and children, then you are quite ready to take part in day to day life again. It is in this that the trip is completely under your control.


     When I first came across kriya yoga it was a very wonderful experience, but I did not teach it because I thought people were not in need of this science. One day a very unfortunate lady of very high family came to me. She asked if I had a way in yoga for committing suicide. I invited her to come and visit me if she liked, and sometimes in the morning when I used to practice a few items of kriya yoga, she also practiced them for 15 to 20 minutes. This was many, many years ago, and now she has become one of the happiest women I have ever seen in my life, and she has not become useful to herself alone but to thousands of people through community work. The money which she was wasting in clubs and other diversions, she is now investing in most useful projects. It is my belief that the whole change in her personality and its awakening and revival were due only to the few very insignificant kriyas which she practiced with me during those 2 or 3 months.


     So there are two different systems of yoga. One is the concentration, meditation and samadhi achieved by withdrawal of the mind from external life. If you can do this system, please go on with it, but if you cannot and your mind plays up like a rebellious child, then it is much better to adopt the second system and thereby preclude any friction and difficulty with the mind. Take a few kriyas, not many - 5 to 10, and these will help you to deal directly with the rebellious mind.


     When I was in Paris this year, I gave kriya yoga classes for 3 days. The people were so greatly benefited that after only 3 months they want me to give more classes in kriya to hundreds of students. When I asked them what made them decide to call me back to Paris so soon, the reply was, "The kriya yoga my uncle, my brother or my husband has been practicing has created such a great change in his life that I also want to learn and be benefited by kriya." This is the reply of the people in Paris where I gave the first kriya classes outiide India.


     Those who are eager to follow this systematic kriya yoga path should first practice asanas, pranayamas, some hatha yoga, some preliminary kriyas, ajapa japa, breath consciousness, mudras and bandhas regularly for 4 or 5 months and then they should learn kriya yoga from a qualified master.


     Diet, status, creed or religious affiliations, age (young or old), mental condition (normal or abnormal), none of these are a barrier to kriya practice. If you are convinced that kriya yoga is for you, you should take it up. Start the preparations immediately.


     Kriya yoga is part of tantra and it is on the subject of Tantra Shastra I shall speak tomorrow evening. Then you will know how close you are to a science given to mankind more than 6000 years ago, and you will understand how, in this age of tensions, dissensions and all kinds of social and mental problems, the tantra system but kriya yoga above all, can help us in our physical and mental difficulties and finally in the unfoldment of our consciousness.




     National Museum, Copenhagen.


International Yoga Day 21 June 2015
International Yoga Day 21 June 2015






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