Kriya Yoga is an ancient science. In the Bhagavad Gita it is mentioned that Lord Krishna gave this science to the sun who, in his turn, passed it on to Manu (author of the ancient Indian text Manu Samhita).
Essentially, Kriya Yoga is the science of controlling prana (life force energy). Through its practice, the mind gets engrossed at the Kutashta Brahman, that critical point between the eyebrows, and is released from bondage. In recent times, this practice was taught by Yogi Shyama Charan Lahiri, popularly known as Lahiri Mahasaya, master of Paramahansa Yogananda’s guru, Sri Yukteswar Giri. Lahiri Mahasaya was himself taught this technique by Mahavatar Babaji, an immortal saint living in the Himalayas.
The Kriya Yoga taught by Lahiri Mahasaya contains four initiations. The first Kriya leads to a perfection in the Khechari Mudra (see Talabhya Kriya below). After the second and third initiations, the yogi recognizes the infinite Self. At the fourth initiation, the highest level, the yogi learns to dissolve his Self by projecting his prana out through the sahasrara chakra (crown center of the body), thus ending the eternal cycle of life and death.
The first level of Kriya Yoga contains the following practices:
Talabhya Kriya: The tongue is pressed to the roof of the mouth and the lower jaw is dropped to stretch the part that joins the tongue to the base of the mouth. The tongue is now released and pushed out of the mouth. The tongue joint is thus minutely cut by the lower teeth. This allows the tongue to roll back, rise above the uvula, reach the inner nostrils and activate sushumna breathing. The tip of the tongue is exercised so as to touch the tip of the nose, thereby reaching the Khechari Mudra.
Nabhi Kriya: The yogi mentally chants ‘Om’ 75 times, placing the chin against the throat cavity and concentrating on the navel. The chin is raised and the head is thrown backward. Simultaneously, the mind concentrates on the spinal point behind the navel. ‘Om’ is chanted 25 times in this position.
Mental Pranayama: The spine is imagined as a tube where the mind is allowed to go up and down, uttering ‘Om’ at each of the spinal centers.
Pranayama: Breathing is reduced through gradual practice to 1/10th its normal rate. The mind ascends the spine while breathing in and descends on exhalation. The tongue will be in Khechari Mudra and the mouth will be closed. This results in cessation of breathing. With practice, the body cells are automatically oxygenated and decarbonized.
Yogi Mudra: The mind is placed at a point between the eyebrows. ‘Om’ is chanted at that point. Thumbs block the ear. The index finger holds the eyeball steady to create stillness. The middle finger closes the nostril. Breath is held as long as comfortable. With time, the inner light is seen at the third eye. The light condenses into a golden ring with a blue sphere at the center of which a five-pointed silver star emerges. The yogi is now supposed to pierce this star to have a glimpse of other dimensions.
Mahamudra: Legs are stretched out, hands hold the feet. At the end of each inhalation of the Kriya pranayama, the forehead touches the knees.
Talabhya: The practice ends by performing the Talabhya Kriya again. Throughout this, the tongue should remain in Khechari Mudra.
Note: Don’t practice Kriya Yoga on your own. Advanced Kriya initiations can be given only by the qualified master at appropriate stages.