Kriya yoga means “action of the soul” (“kri”=action of the elements, “ya”=soul). One of the most important actions of the soul is the act of breathing. The word yoga means “union”, the union of the spirit with the soul. This allows for true karma which only comes from the interaction of the breath and soul. This is what is achieved through kriya yoga.
Kriya is a practice used to achieve the union of the breath and the soul in inhalation and exhalation. It is based on patterns of the breath, the brain and the spinal cord. The breath is mediating between the soul and the mind, and the brain and spinal cord mediate between the sensory organs and the mind. The main goal of kriya yoga is to control the actions of the mind through the process of breathing. Our breathing patterns are always a reflection of our inner thoughts. For instance, when we are scared we breathe very rapidly. When we are relaxed our breathing is slow and calm. Many kinds of emotions can be depicted through the breathing patterns. The key is to maintain calm breathing, because when the breath is calm, the mind will be calm, and the individual will feel relaxed and at peace.
Kriya yoga is a process that is hard to describe. Words can only achieve so much as a person will only fully understand what kriya is through experience. Teaching kriya yoga is a slow, gradual process and usually follows six stages. The first kriya stage teaches the foundation of the technique. It teaches you knowledge of the body, chakras (energy centers), and the soul. Once this stage is mastered, you can move on to the higher kriya levels. Since the basics behind kriya yoga are simple, it can be practiced anytime during the day, wherever you like.
Through the yoga you will learn to control your breathing in every moment with the careful monitoring of inhalation and exhalation. Inhalation is known as the power, while the breath of exhalation is known as the light. Your being is located somewhere between the two, and the breathing process gives you life and energy. Once you master this process, you will find a state of inner peace. We will be able to control outer experiences through inner calmness.
Often during the practice of kriya yoga you will lean over and bend the spine, because this allows for the life force (energy) to flow from the top of the body through the spine, down to the bottom of the body. During this procedure all the chakras in the body are touched by the life force to create balance and harmony.
Through the practice of kriya yoga you will also create what is called an inner fire. Just like how real fire burns anything in its path, your inner fire will burn any negative thoughts, actions or psychological problems. Thus through kriya yoga you achieve the ability to deal with the stress of life and learn to maintain an inner calmness.