Participants being taught Pranayama (Photo Supplied)

Dr Malini Yugendran

Auckland, February 17, 2023

This article explores Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras’ two approaches to yoga: Abhyasa (practice) and Vairagya (letting go or non-craving). According to Eyal Shifroni’s website, “Abhyasa is the active aspect, the effort that must be invested to progress. Vairagya is an approach. These components are deemed essential for a comprehensive transformation of body, mind, and consciousness.

This article also discusses the five “vitamins” that help attain ‘high’ samadhi (super-conscious samadhi) and analyses the three components of Kriya Yoga.

Five essentials

“Patanjali’s five ‘vitamins’ that help attain ‘high’ samadhi are Shraddha (belief/faith), Virya (energy, diligence), Smriti (memory), Samadhi (meditative absorption) and Prajña (spiritual insight).

Faith and strength are essential elements for progress on the spiritual path. Faith enables us to embark on the journey, while strength and diligence are necessary to overcome obstacles.

Smriti, or memory, is needed to maintain attention and presence in practice.

A combination of faith, strength, and focused observation leads to deep concentration or samadhi, where spiritual insight is attained. These aid in curtailing the delusions that characterize the perception of reality and gaining wisdom and spiritual knowledge.

Kriya Yoga and research

Kriya Yoga is a spiritual practice that focuses on the simultaneous development of the body, mind, and soul. It is a non-sectarian path that uses breath and meditation to reach higher states of consciousness and increase vital life-force energies.

The word “Kriya” means living life as directed from within, through the perception of the soul, and directing proper activities through the brain.

One study conducted in India found that regular practice of Kriya Yoga led to improvements in respiratory function, cardiovascular health, and mental health among participants.

Another research found that Kriya Yoga practice was effective in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.

A study conducted in the United States found that participants who practiced Kriya Yoga had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, indicating a reduction in stress levels.

Additionally, Kriya Yoga has been found to improve cognitive function, with one study showing improved performance on tasks related to attention, working memory, and executive function among participants.

Kriya Lineage

According to the Kriya Yoga Association of New Zealand, Kriya Yoga is an ancient practice that has been passed down through generations from teacher to student. According to the tradition, it was a revelation to Vivaswan, the first King of the solar dynasty in ancient India and has since been passed down through the ages to various teachers and students.

Mahavatar Babaji, a great Himalayan yogi, is credited with re-introducing Kriya Yoga to modern times through his disciple Lahiri Mahasaya in 1861. Today, Kriya Yoga is still passed on directly from teacher to student in an unbroken lineage of transmission.

Participants practicing meditation. (Photo Supplied)

Three pillars of Kriya

Svadhyaya is a Niyama (virtuous observance) connoting introspection and the “study of self”.

Tapas, another Niyama is a variety of austere spiritual meditation practices. Tapas is necessary to develop strength, and Svadhyaya must be carried out simultaneously.

Ishvara-pranidhana, also a Niyama, means surrendering to God, letting go of the ego and acknowledging a higher power. These three components of Kriya yoga are essential in achieving self-awareness, enlightenment, and unity with the divine.

The three traditional paths of yoga are karma, gnana, and bhakti. Kriya yoga aligns with these paths, with tapas as karma yoga, svadhyaya as jnana yoga, and Ishvara-pranidhana as bhakti yoga.

Kriya yoga vs other forms

Raja Yoga and Kriya Yoga are two styles of yoga with similar and distinct approaches. Raja Yoga, also known as the “royal path” of yoga, emphasizes mental discipline and meditation, following an eight-limbed path, including the practice of asanas, pranayama, and meditation.

Kriya Yoga, made popular by Paramahansa Yogananda in the 1920s, focuses on specific exercises or kriyas to purify the body, mind, and spirit.

Kriya Yoga states that the body, mind, and soul are interconnected, and that true spiritual growth and enlightenment can only be achieved through a harmonious balance of these three elements.

The physical component of Kriya Yoga involves a series of yoga asanas (postures) that help to stretch and strengthen the body and improve circulation. These asanas are designed to activate the chakras (energy centers) in the body and prepare it for the more advanced stages of the practice.

The mental component of Kriya Yoga involves various breathing techniques, such as pranayama, that help to purify the mind and increase spiritual awareness. These techniques are used to quiet the mind and bring about a state of inner peace and harmony.

Both Raja and Kriya yoga aims to achieve spiritual enlightenment and union with the divine but differs in their techniques.

Yoga Workshop in Auckland

Datta Kriya Yoga is a similar practice, taught by disciples of Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji, a world-renowned yogi & spiritual Master and the senior pontiff of Avadhoota Dattapeetham, and includes a series of physical and mental exercises designed to purify the body and mind, increase spiritual awareness, and promote a deeper sense of meaning and purpose in life.

Two yoga teachers, disciples of Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji: Shiva Prakash and Chakradhar of Datta Kriya Yoga International Centre in Avadhoota Datta Peetham, Mysuru India, are visiting New Zealand to impart this Datta Kriya yoga knowledge through free workshops.

Session Details and Preparations

“We are organising two free Datta Kriya Yoga workshops for the benefit of the general public in New Zealand. The beginner’s workshop is open to everyone with no previous experience in yoga, but they need to be serious seekers to tread this life-transforming path. This session involves light to moderate physical activities. Participants ranging from the age of 10-80 years can enrol,” said Nagaraj Ambale of Datta Yoga Centre, New Zealand.

“The advanced workshop is open to participants who have previous experience/knowledge of some form of Kriya yoga and are interested in deepening their practice. The advanced participants need to be fit and healthy to undergo rigorous physical and mental training,” he explained.

The beginner’s workshop can accommodate up to 100 people, while the advanced course can have up to 50.

Those interested can register at their website. The workshops are scheduled for the 4th and 5th March 2023 from 7 am to 5 pm at Shri ​Shirdi SaiBaba Sansthan Auditorium, 12/18 Princes Street, ​Onehunga, Auckland 1061.

Dr Malini Yugendran is an Indian Newslink Reporter based in Auckland.

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