Kriya and Raja Yoga


“Retire to the center of your being, which is calmness.” ~Paramahansa Yogananda

About Kriya Yoga

Kri means “to do,” and Ya means “the soul.” In Kriya Yoga, there is a strong focus on a spiritual life with God as the life force in all  you do and breaths you take. Kriya Yoga is a comprehensive spiritual path of meditation, yoga and ethical living. The spiritual master Paramhansa Yogananda brought the sacred technique of Kriya Yoga to the West and writes about it in his best-selling book, Autobiography of a Yogi. A highly suggested read before embarking upon the teachings of Yogananda.

Kriya Yoga as described by the “Self realization Fellowship”  founded by Yogananda, was brought about by the illumined sages of India discovered the spiritual science of Kriya Yoga in the long forgotten past. Lord Krishna extols it in the Bhagavad Gita. The sage Patanjali speaks of it in his Yoga Sutras. Paramahansa Yogananda has stated that this ancient meditation method was also known to Jesus Christ, as well as to disciples such as St. John, St. Paul, and others. Paramahansa Yogananda was chosen by his venerable line of gurus to bring the ancient science of Kriya Yoga to the West, and it was for this purpose that he established Self-Realization Fellowship in 1920.

Kriya Yoga was lost for centuries in the dark ages, and reintroduced in modern times by Mahavatar Babaji, whose disciple Lahiri Mahasaya (1828–1895) was the first to teach it openly in our era. Later, Babaji asked Lahiri Mahasaya’s disciple, Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri (1855–1936), to train Paramahansa Yogananda and send him to the West to give this soul-revealing technique to the world.

Formerly available only to a faithful few who renounced the world and lived solitary lives as ascetics, the great ones of India have now made the ancient Kriya science available to all sincere seekers worldwide through the instrumentality of Paramahansa Yogananda and the spiritual organization he established known as the Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF).

Yogananda brought Kriya yoga to the Western culture in hopes of creating a unity within the world.

The benefits of Kriya Yoga include: experiencing calmness and joy in your life, increased focus and concentration, and the elimination of destructive thinking viewing the light of God as the Divine path to self realization. Kriya Yoga also refers to a specific meditation technique, a pranayama or breathing practice that is part of Yogananda’s Path of Kriya Yoga.

Kriya Yoga has been taught with success to thousands of individuals on their yogic path worldwide, from many faiths, cultures, and spiritual traditions. Kriya yoga can be taught and learned by anyone with a desire of achieving a higher state of consciousness. From its inception early on, one can learn how to calm the mind and heart, work consciously with vital life force energy known as Prana, develop concentration, and deeply conceptualize one’s own abilities and awareness. Through private sessions, either in-person and/or online, you can learn from the structural guidelines of those who developed it- through their teachings, and share in their inherent wisdom and grace of these ancient yoga masters.


Raja and Kriya though a similar concept,are two separate paths toward the same goal. Raja yoga is often associated with Ashtanga yoga. Ancient Sanskrit texts describe Raja yoga as being the ultimate goal of yoga practice, rather than the physical and mental exercises involved, where as Kriya is largely connected with developing and obtaining self realization through both the mental and energetic aspects. This means that in Raja yoga, it is the state of peace and contentment that is the direct result from a sustained yoga practice and meditation and in Kriya the mental and energetic exercises are performed to develop and heighten one’s conceptual awareness of energy and how this energy can be harnessed and accessed for the unity of body, mind, spirit and soul as well as the betterment of humanity. Raja can be viewed as the bridge between the physical and the mental with a similar dynamic to Kriya.

Raja Yoga is also referred to as the Mental Yoga, or the Yoga of the Mind, because of its emphasis on awareness of one’s state of mind. It is through this practice of concentration and meditation that one learns to calm the mind and bring it to one point of focus. It is at this point that we direct our attention inwardly, toward our true nature, which is Divine. You can achieve this by following the Eight-Fold Path of Raja Yoga, which includes observation of the following:

1. Yamas (Abstentions):  Ahimsa (non-injury), Satya (truth), Asetya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (chastity), Apragraha (non-greed)
2. Niyamas (Moral Observations): Susha (purity), Santosha (contentment), Tapas (austerity), Svadhaya (study of the scriptures), Ishvara Pranidhana (surrender to God)
3. Asana: Steady pose, posture or seat
4. Pranayama: control of vital energy through breathwork
5. Pratyahara: Withdrawal of the senses
6. Dharana: concentration of the mind
7. Dhyana: Meditation
8. Samadhi: Enlightenment, union with the Divine