Kriyas, Yoga Nidra, and other matters

The fourth in the archive series of 2003 from the Satyananda Tapovanam Ashram in Bangalore, India. Discussion and Discourse from Swami Nishchalananda.

‘What are the origins of Kriya Yoga?’ a questioner asks Swamiji.

His response is that the roots of the kriyas are actually a mystery, The Yogananda tradition says that the practices came from the Himalayan Yogi Babaji. Whatever traditions there may have been before him is unknown.  Swami Sivananda, the Guru of Swami Satyananda (Swami Nishchalananda’s Guru), only spent a short time with his Guru so how were they transmitted there?

So to practice Kriyas we must have a reasonable level of energy to start with, also we have to be disciplined in our practice and have a dedicated schedule with available time for the practices

Whatever the origins, Kriyas are concerned with energy (many practices use ‘circulation’ of energy), and with balancing ida and pingala. Also some of the earlier practices are to do with balancing the exterior and interior because the eyes are alternatively open and closed. So balancing, then raising energy, and then in the later kriyas energy is internalised. This contributes strongly to the practices of Pratyahara which is more internalised by definition, then Dharana (one-pointed concentration) and finally Dhyana, Meditation. So to practice Kriyas we must have a reasonable level of energy to start with, also we have to be disciplined in our practice and have a dedicated schedule with available time for the practices (there are options such as reduced number of the kriyas, but it still requires a dedication to the practice). Also we have to pay attention to Lifestyle; in a very real way the practice of Kriyas requires a lifestyle that is adapted to the practice, rather than the other way round.

The visualisation aspects of YN may trigger memories, from childhood perhaps, or may go into the realm of trans-personal archetypes.

Swami Nishchalananda

Another question regards the benefits of Yoga Nidra. In a sense it is similar to hypnosis in that the receiver can be in the zone between waking and sleeping, an impressionable place. Which emphasises the importance of a good teacher who you trust. It’s a therapeutic practice because it takes us to a place where there may be subconscious impressions, but also to a place where intuition can be there. And of course it’s usually profoundly relaxing. So it can be a gateway to Meditation (Dhyana), or maybe to sleep!

Finally, there’s a question about death, and preparation for death. There are pointers in Yoga such as the Bhagavad Gita chapter 8, and the Katha Upanishad which centres on the relentless questioning of Lord Yama, the Lord of Death, by young Natchiketa. Swamiji gives a short discourse on this Upanishad, followed by a discussion on the inevitability of death and how appropriate Yoga is as a preparation for that inevitable event.

Please enjoy this edited session from Swami Nishchalananda’s archived material.

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