Kriya yoga is essentially an absolute spiritual path spread out throughout the world by Paramhansa Yogananda. Over time, many people in the West have come to understand the particular techniques of the spiritual path. An excerpt from the book, Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda, the path of Kriya Yoga has several steps.
Pranayama is a Hindu term that means life control. It has been the basis of many yogic practices since it is a core component in the Bhagavad Gita. Several modern psychologists, psychiatrists, and other medical practitioners have given their voice to support Pranayama techniques as being very beneficial in the treating of stress-related disorders. It is, however, important to practice the following Pranayama techniques in the presence of a guru to ensure you are doing them in the right way.
There exist variations to the Pranayama techniques, but the goal remains the same, which is to acquire self-realization. When practicing Kriya Yoga, you are virtually glowing awareness to the seven chakras namely; Solar Plexus, Root, Sacral, Heart, Third Eye, Throat, and Crown Chakra are centers in your body that energy will flow.
Kriya Yoga has multiple Pranayama techniques that you ought to incorporate into your practice of Kriya yoga poses to experience the effectiveness of this yogic practice. You must however, practice a few techniques before you can achieve mastery and then move on to more techniques.
1. Mental Kriya Pranayama
This Pranayama technique is to help you move your consciousness from the root chakra to your crown chakra in a slow progression. Mentally feel and recognize each chakra on the upward path to the crown chakra.
After reaching the crown chakra, stay for a comfortable period on the crown chakra and then gradually move your consciousness from your crown chakra to your root chakra. Similar to the upward path, ensure you mentally touch each of the chakras on the downward path.
The successful upward and downward paths between the root and crown chakras make up one mental Pranayama. To master this Pranayama, ensure to practice it on a daily basis up until when you can comfortably visualize and trace the upward and downward paths with ease.
2. Kriya Pranayama
This involves being conscious of your breath as you embark on the upward and downward paths between your root and crown chakras while mentally touching and being aware of the chakras. While inhaling, begin your upward path, and mentally touch each of the chakras on your way to the crown chakra. Linger for a comfortable period on the crown chakra while chanting “Om” (AUM) and exhale slowly.
During the slowly exhale process, embark on the downward path moving your consciousness from the crown chakra to the root chakra. Remember to touch each chakra between the crown and the root chakras mentally. Contract the glottis, found in the lower throat, to create the resistance of the air from your lungs. This helps to make the exhaling process longer than the inhale process, and it is beneficial in the opening of your third eye, found slightly above the junction of your eyebrows.
The two techniques described above are the main Kriya Pranayama techniques, and they have their variations.
3. Variations to the Mental Pranayama Technique
Start by visualizing a narrow and hollow white tube connecting the root chakra to the crown chakra. Do the mental Pranayama upward and downward paths as described above while being sure to trace the upward and downward path between the root and crown chakras. It is essential that you are aware of the chakras and you mentally touch each one of them.
Chant “Om” pronounced as “AUM” whenever you mentally touch each of the chakras. You can use any other mantra that you prefer. On the upward and downward path, visualize a smooth candle frame going up and down the tube as you move your consciousness from each chakra to the next. You can also imagine the bright sun going up and down the white tube in place of the candle frame.
4. Variation of the Kriya Pranayama Technique
Just like in the mental Pranayama, visualize a white, narrow and hollow tube running from your root chakra to the crown chakra and be aware of the location of each of the chakras in between. Perform the Kriya Pranayama technique visualizing and mentally touching each of the chakras on your way up and down the white tube. Also, visualize a candle frame going up and down the white tube as you do the Kriya Pranayama technique. Visualize a smooth, radiant white ball in the white tube and as you inhale while on the upward path, the ball slowly increases in size. As you exhale on the downward path, the ball decreases in size.
When practiced every day, these techniques will help you master the mind as well as your breath. You will; notice that inhaling takes a lesser time than exhaling but all in the space of one minute. Your mind will be peaceful and the mastery earned will guide you on other techniques of Kriya Yoga.