Paramahansa Yogananda provides a description of Kriya Yoga in his Autobiography of a Yogi. The actual technique is given to students after a preliminary period of practice of the three preparatory techniques taught by Paramahansa Yogananda.
Taken together as a comprehensive system, these meditation techniques enable the practitioner to achieve the highest benefits and divine goal of the ancient yoga science.
1. Energization Exercises: A series of psychophysical exercises developed by Paramahansa Yogananda in 1916 to prepare the body for meditation. Regular practice promotes mental and physical relaxation and develops dynamic will power. Making use of the breath, life force, and concentrated attention, the technique enables one to draw abundant energy consciously into the body, purifying and strengthening all the body parts systematically in turn. The Energization Exercises, which take about fifteen minutes to perform, are one of the most effective means of eliminating stress and nervous tension. Practicing them prior to meditation is a great help in entering a calm, interiorized state of awareness.
2. Meditation Posture: Hong-Sau Technique of Concentration helps to develop one’s latent powers of concentration. Through practice of this technique one learns to withdraw thought and energy from outward distractions so that they may be focused on any goal to be achieved or problem to be solved. Or one may direct that concentrated attention toward realizing the Divine Consciousness within.
3. Aum Technique of Meditation shows one how to use the power of concentration in the highest way to discover and develop the divine qualities of one’s own true Self. This ancient method teaches how to experience the all-pervading Divine Presence as Aum, the Word or Holy Ghost that underlies and sustains all creation. The technique expands the awareness beyond limitations of body and mind to the joyous realization of one’s infinite potential.
4. Kriya Yoga Technique
Kriya is an advanced Raja Yoga technique of pranayama (life-energy control). Kriya reinforces and revitalizes subtle currents of life energy (prana) in the spine and brain. The ancient seers of India (rishis) perceived the brain and spine as the tree of life. Out of the subtle cerebrospinal centers of life and consciousness (chakras) flow the energies that enliven all the nerves and every organ and tissue of the body. The yogis discovered that by revolving the life current continuously up and down the spine by the special technique of Kriya Yoga, it is possible to greatly accelerate one’s spiritual evolution and awareness.
Correct practice of Kriya Yoga enables the normal activities of the heart and lungs and nervous system to slow down naturally, producing deep inner stillness of body and mind and freeing the attention from the usual turbulence of thoughts, emotions, and sensory perceptions. In the clarity of that inner stillness, one comes to experience a deepening interior peace and attunement with one’s soul and with God.
This gradual introduction has a purpose. A mountain climber seeking to scale the Himalayas must first acclimatize and condition himself before ascending the peaks. So the seeker needs this initial period to acclimatize his or her habits and thoughts, condition the mind with concentration and devotion, and practice directing the body’s life energy. Then the yogi is prepared to ascend the spinal highway of realization.