What is Kriya Yoga?

August 16, 2019 |

Read Time: 4 minutes

Yoga Sutra, the main Yoga text by Sage Patanjali give us details about Kriya Yoga in the Sadhana Pada. Kriya Yoga comprises of Tapa, Svadhyaya and Iswara Pranidhana. The word ‘Kriya’ means action and ‘Kriya Yoga’ would mean the yoga of action or action in yoga.

Kriya yoga operates at the three levels of body (kaya), mind (manas) and speech (vak). These are the three tools for all our actions. Kriya yoga seeks to refine and culture our tools of action so that each of our action at the body, mind and speech realm is in complete union.

The word ‘Tapa’ means to burn and works at burning or removing unwanted or negative habit patterns in us. It involves identifying the habits and conditioning in us which are hindering our path of self-development and eliminating such counterproductive practices. Tapa includes asana practice to remove blockages at body level, regulation of food habits which causes trouble at the body and mind level, and pranayama to purify at the breath level. Tapa includes every act which results in getting rid of an unwanted practice. An act of giving up bed tea or coffee or getting up late in the morning is also Tapa. Tapas prepares us for a higher goal by getting rid of negative habits which pull us down.

The word ‘Svadhyaya’ means study and understanding of one’s true Self and works at the mind level. It involves the study of higher scriptures, chanting, introspection and reflection to seek one’s real Self. Svadhyaya is a mirror which shows us what our true potential self is and paves the way for new habits and conditioning to replace negative ones. If giving up bed tea or coffee is Tapa, then getting up early in the morning and doing asana practice and then having tea is Svadhyaya. Svadhyaya ushers in the true knowledge required to evolve to be a better being.

‘Iswarapranidhana’ means surrendering ourselves to a Higher Being and works at the speech and emotion level. Iswarapranidhana is accepting that we are but one small component of the bigger picture. It involves understanding that everything is not in our control. We need to do our part and sit back and accept whatever happens. The act of giving up bed tea and replacing it with asana practice is meaningful only if done with complete humility and that is Iswarapranidhana. It provides the anchor which brings in the emotional stability in us.

Tapa, Svadhyaya and Iswarapranidhana are the three legs of the tripod of Kriya Yoga. All three legs are essential and complement each other to move towards the final goal of Self Realisation by removing all afflictions in our minds.

Therefore, Kriya yoga results in each of our action being the perfect action free of greed and attachment. It results in action being done with complete sincerity and without any attachment to the fruits and with complete equanimity to the consequence.

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Founder, Managing Trustee and Sr. Yoga Teacher SKWC

Bengaluru, Karnataka, India