With its empirical meditation methods, Paramahansa Yogananda is also referred to as the Kriya Yoga path.
Instead of wandering on paths of intellectual curiosity or wasting time on some other spiritual side roads, we should search for the way that will directly lead us to encounter the divinity that we have within.
Paramahansaji found the path of Kriya Yoga to be the most powerful way of achieving the highest aim of divinity, and indeed of life itself: union with Bliss. The holy science of Kriya Yoga includes Raja Yoga’s distilled nature.
They are advanced meditation methods whose committed practice contributes to a state of inner quietness that helps us understand our intrinsic existence of the soul and our limitless potential (1).
What is Kriya Yoga?
Sudarshan kriya yoga (SKY) is a type of cyclical controlled breathing practice that provides depression relief and is taught by the non-profit Art of Living Foundation with roots in traditional yoga. Sudarshan Kriya is a rhythmic breathing technique that is powerful but quick. It integrates the breath’s particular natural rhythms, harmonizing the body, mind, and emotions (2, 3).
Documented research indicates that (SKY) decreases stress, depression, anxiety, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) significantly and improves mental and physical health significantly.
Research also shows that SKY’s effects extend all the way down to our DNA, to a molecular level. More than 70 independent studies, carried out on four continents and published in peer-reviewed journals, have shown a wide variety of advantages of SKY practice (4).
Here are the 4 main SKY breathing techniques explained:
- Ujjayi or “Victorious Breath”: It consists of experiencing the conscious sensation of the breath passing through the throat. This technique improves airway resistance when we inhale and exhale, and controls our airflow. The experience is not only physical but also mental it brings calmness with awareness.
- During Bhastrika or “Bellows Breath”: You should inhale rapidly and energetically exhaled at a pace of 30 breaths per minute. You will feel excited and then calm.
- “Om” is chanted three times, every time you exhale for a long period of time.
- Sudarshan Kriya which is a Sanskrit term for “proper vision by purifying action” is an advanced form of rhythmic, cyclical breathing with slow, medium, and fast cycles.
The components of Kriya Yoga
Listed below you will find the steps you need to take to find individuality (5).
- Meditate and experience your essence of being.
- Contemplate and look into the nature of Reality.
- Reflect on how to live with intelligence and understanding.
- Explore, engage in spiritual practices, and discover what works for you.
- Become willing to let go of the false assumption of an ego-based identity that sees itself as separate from the rest of life. We step into the greater Life, knowing ourselves as divine expressions of the one Reality.
Think of Kriya Yoga as a mystic path. Kriya Yoga leads back to Self-and God-realization, like spiritual paths in all cultures. We find the greatest happiness awaits our conscious return to the divine true Self inside, like the universal archetype of the prodigal son or daughter, (5, 6).
How to practice Kriya Yoga
Kriya Yoga mixes the most effective elements of all styles of yoga including (5):
- Step-by-step meditation methodology of Raja Yoga.
- Surrendered devotion of Bhakti Yoga.
- Focused self-inquiry pathway of Jnana Yoga.
- The importance of selfless service is Karma Yoga.
In this tradition, the emphasis is put on a safe, purposeful, mindful life, accompanied by the practice of superconscious meditation. It is an intentional, universal approach to spiritual liberation and self-realization. Enlightenment is not only the aim of every individual; it is regarded as a certain destiny. Since we are divine beings already, the revelation of that, waking up to it, is enlightenment. Understanding it. To live it. The daily.
There is no spiritual state to establish and there is no illumination to obtain. Only the realization of what is so.
Kriya Yoga provides a timely and time-tested view of the naturalness of enlightenment. It happens when you eliminate the emotional barriers to it. When the mind becomes still and quiet, the radiance of the Self enlightens it. Then it naturally exposes the truth of what we are. It is interpreted. We are changed by this experience because it affects our point of view. We are no longer a person associated with the mind and body who feels they might have a soul. We now know that we are that spirit, that we are that spirit. We are the divine self, embodied through the mind and body (5).
Kriya Yoga Health Benefits Scientifically Documented and Published in Scientific Journals
Sudarshan kriya yoga and stress, depression, and anxiety disorders
SKY has shown dramatically decreased anxiety scores during different anti-stress programs in many populations, suggesting mental activity stabilization, improved brain function, and resistance to stress. Insomnia is one of the common symptoms of stress that, in the form of improved sleep quality, responds to everyday SKY practice. Since SKY training, tsunami refugees have demonstrated dramatic progress in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression levels. In a comparative study to examine the effects of various modalities such as Iyengar and Desikachar yoga, Qi Gong, SKY, and a multicomponent yoga intervention (MCYI) in the treatment of long-standing PTSD by Australian Vietnam war veterans, it was found that the interventions that used several yoga instruments, viz. The greatest effectiveness was demonstrated by SKY and MCYI.
Influence of sky on physiological functions
KY consists of a specific series of varying rates of respiration separated by short intervals of natural respiration. Strained breathing happens in nature when, in combat, an animal is defeated. It inhibits operation, increases brain perfusion, increases concentration and alertness, slows heart rate, recovers energy, prevents hypoxia/hypercapnia, and prepares the animal for self-protection.
The effects of yogic breathing on brain activity and physiological parameters have been shown by several studies, but the mechanisms have not been explained. Biological postulations from the neurophysiological model of yogic breathing vagus nerve stimulation indicate that SKY activates vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) and has various autonomic consequences, including heart rate changes, improved memory in Alzheimer’s disease, improved bowel function, etc. (6).
To summarize, the VNS and activation of the limbic system, hippocampus, hypothalamus, amygdala, and stria terminalis can be related to enhanced autonomic control, neuroendocrine release, emotional processing, and social bonding following SKY practices.
Influence of sudarshan kriya yoga on and tobacco addiction
A large variety of physiological changes are associated with stress. It is also related to the practice of consuming tobacco and alcohol, which, in turn, leads to disease. Alcohol / tobacco-based disease development tends to be directly related to the production of reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species and decreased antioxidant levels.
In a study of cancer patients who have finished their regular care, researchers have shown that in 21 percent of people who have followed up to 6 months of practice, SKY helped regulate the tobacco habit.
In 60 alcohol-dependence patients, SKY was tested for antidepressant effects. Prior to and after the 2 weeks of this intervention, participants completed the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). Before and at the end of 2 weeks, morning plasma cortisol, ACTH, and prolactin were assessed too. The antidepressant effects of SKY in alcohol-dependent subjects were demonstrated in the results. The reduction in levels of stress hormones (cortisol and ACTH) and the reduction of BDI can help SKY’s biological mechanism for producing beneficial effects (9).
Influence of sudarshan kriya yoga on endocrine system
It is believed that SKY primarily exerts its endocrine influence by modulating the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which is necessary for human fighting and flight response and survival, according to the neurophysiological model of VNS via yogic breathing. It is probable that SKY releases prolactin, vasopressin, and oxytocin to the hypothalamus and anterior pituitary through vagal afferents. The feelings of bonding and love are enhanced by oxytocin. It is associated with functions of the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) and is involved in HPA axis control. In major depression, oxytocin secretion was found to be poor and it is hypothesized to increase after SKY care. Prolacatin has been found to improve (7).
One SKY community practice episode boosted levels of serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) but decreased levels of serum cortisol. The serum BDNF elevation was retained for at least 4 h and was not due to cicardial rhythm. The presence of SKY practices was concluded to have profound antidepressant effects, which are strongly associated with its role in normalizing serum BDNF levels.
10 positive impacts that kriya yoga have on mental and physical well-being (10):
- Studies show that depressed patients who learned sky experienced a 68-73% remission rate within one month.
- Reductions in anxiety, including a 73% response rate and 41% remission rate in individuals for whom medication and psychotherapy treatments had failed.
- Reduces impulsivity and addictive behaviors.
- Relieves anxiety & depression, ptsd symptoms, and stress levels.
- Reduction in ptsd symptoms was found in 4-6 weeks and was sustained at 6 months and one year.
Influence on physical well-being:
- 50% increase in the well-being hormone prolactin.
- Blood lactate levels in police cadets who did not learn sky were 4 times higher than their classmates who were randomized to learn sky, suggesting a greatly increased resilience to stress in sky practitioners.
- Increased levels of antioxidant enzymes such as glutathione, catalase, and superoxide dismutase.
- Since stressful physiological responses negatively impact immune, cardiovascular, endocrine, and mental health, this has significant implications for wellness.
- Reduced biochemical markers of stress: cortisol, corticotropin blood lactate, acth, and plasma mda.
Research shows that SKY decreases depression, anxiety, PTSD, and stress It has also been shown to curb opioid abuse and addictive behaviors. It raises feelings of well-being, motivation, and mental concentration dramatically and enhances emotion control. In addition, SKY is correlated with improved cardio-respiratory activity, antioxidant status, and function of the immune system (add references).
The practice has also been shown to have a beneficial influence on gene expression, indicating that the effects of SKY spread from the DNA within our molecules to organ systems at all stages of physiology. Taken together, the large range of recorded advantages indicate that SKY can be an effective means of rapidly improving both the mind and the body (11).
Sudarshan Kriya Yoga or SKY activities are cost-effective, well-tolerated instruments that can easily be incorporated into different models of community treatment. SKY alleviates tension and develops the mind-body-spirit of a person so that they can be happier, stronger.