It’s been nearly three years since I read the spiritual classic, Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahamsa Yogananda, and every year since I’ve been meaning to get along to a Kriya Yoga initiation. As is my wont, the allure of procrastination and inertia got in the way. After all, why spend a whole weekend learning another meditation technique when I already meditate every day anyway? How hard can it be?
Turns out it’s really hard, and I wish I had had longer than a weekend to learn it!
Kriya Yoga is not to be confused with the kriyas in Kundalini Yoga. The word Kriya basically means action, yet there are very different and specific actions involved in the two practices. Both practices have the goal of Self Realisation, or awakening of the self, and union with God, or whatever your choice of spiritual deity may be. People from any religion or no religion can do the Kriya Yoga initiation, as well advance through the 6 stages and hang out at any of the ashrams around the world.
Sydney has the beginnings of an ashram for Kriyavans, and already has a resident guru, Swami Gurupriyananda, who travels Australia doing the initiations once a year. The Queensland Kriya initiation is held in Ormeau around September / October every year. Only a guru who comes from the direct lineage from the Kriya masters, including Yogananda, can give initiations and teach Kriya Yoga. This is not something you can learn at a 6 week teacher training course then open a studio and hang out a shingle. None of the techniques are written down so there are no course notes, videos or powerpoint presentations. That’s part of what makes the weekend so hard. You have to write down everything yourself, and there’s a lot to remember. It is expected that no-one who has been initiated into Kriya Yoga shares the techniques with anyone who has not done the initiation. It may sound very secretive and exclusive, but the idea is that to obtain self realisation, the techniques can only be taught in the physical presence of someone who has been self realised themselves, has been taught by one of the masters, and can act as a conduit for the masters during initiation. Not actually possible by watching a You Tube video or a live Facebook feed.
The only thing I will divulge is that many of the Kriya Yoga techniques involve meditating on the 7 body chakras. You kind of cotton onto that if you’ve read any of the books about Kriya Yoga anyway. The techniques are very specific, done in order, and need lots of practice to get right. Lots of concentration too, and that’s what makes a whole weekend of concentration, meditation, postures and frantically taking notes, so exhausting.
The weekend is also incredibly inspiring and uplifting. I would recommend that anyone stuck in a spiritual rut, anyone searching for a bit of meaning in their life, and any yoga practitioners who want to really immerse themselves into the true spiritual aspect of yoga should learn Kriya Yoga.
For more information go to: www.kriya.org.au