The Preliminary Kriya Yoga Techniques are intended to prepare our gross and subtle bodies for Kriya Pranayama, which involves pulling life force/kundalini energy up through the center of the spinal column. Those who do not succeed at Kriya Pranayama usually fail because they were not properly instructed or did not practice the preliminary techniques.
The Preliminary Kriya Yoga Techniques assist with balancing the pingala and ida nadis, which represent our masculine and feminine energies, and with releasing the various locks that keep kundalini energy from rising up to our higher energy centers. Most people’s kundalini energy is not active because their pingala and ida nadis are out of balance, which causes kundalini energy to remain dormant and locked within the root chakra.
The Preliminary Kriya Yoga Techniques utilize a series of pranayama practices that assist with awakening kundalini and releasing the various locks so that it may smoothly and naturally rise up to the higher energy centers. I recommend that all Kriya Yoga techniques be done in a cross-legged position on the floor, with spine erect and unsupported.
Balancing Masculine and Feminine Energies
The first of those techniques is alternate nostril breathing a/k/a nadi sodhana pranayama. This technique helps cleans and purify the nasal cavity and subtle astral channels. Use of this technique also helps bring the pingala and ida nadis into greater balance which helps with awakening our kundalini energy in the sushumna nadi.
Procedure for Alternate Nostril Breathing:
- With right hand close the index and middle fingers, keeping the ring finger, little finger and thumb extended.
- Gently close the right nostril with the thumb keeping the left nostril open.
- Inhale through the left nostril for a count of six to ten seconds. Pause at the top of the inhalation for a count of three seconds.
- Now close the left nostril with the ring and little fingers, allowing the thumb to move to the side.
- Completely exhale through the right nostril.
- After waiting a few seconds and maintaining the hand in the same position now breathe in through the right nostril for six to ten seconds.
- Shifting the hand slightly now close off the right nostril and open the left nostril.
- Exhale completely through the left nostril.
- Steps 2 through 8 represent a complete cycle, which should be repeated 3 to 12 times.
- After completing this exercise simply release the hand mudra and return to normal breathing.
Unlocking the Root Chakra
A few practices can be used to assist with unlocking the root chakra. The traditional kriya yoga technique utilized for this is the maha mudra, a yoga asana that involves stretching the spine and legs. I will not describe this technique in detail but encourage you to learn and practice it. The technique I most often use for awakening the root chakra is circular breathing.
Procedure for Circular Breathing:
- While flexing the lower abdomen and perineum quickly and forcefully breathe in through the nose into the stomach.
- Then quickly and forcefully breathe out through the nose while releasing the tension in your abdomen and perineum.
- One inhalation and exhalation represents one cycle, repeat Steps 1 through 2 for on to two minutes.
- Optional: You may find it beneficial to silently chant the mantra “LUM” at the root chakra as you breathe in and out and imagine a red flame building in your root charka, which is located at the base of the spine.
Unlocking the Solar Plexus
I use the breath of fire technique to assist with unlocking the solar plexus.
Procedure for Breath of Fire:
- With a long continuous breath breathe in through the nose while flexing the lower abdomen and perineum
- As you breathe in through the nose imagine yourself pulling the fire we built up in the root chakra during circular breathing into the stomach/solar plexus which is located two inches above the navel.
- The fire in the solar plexus can be imagined as a yellow flame that grows bigger and bigger as you breathe in.
- When the stomach is extended and full of air lock it into the stomach by lowering your chin to your chest and hold it there for five to ten seconds.
- Optional: As you hold the breath in your solar plexus you may want to silently chant the mantra “RUM” at the solar plexus located in the center of the spine two inches above the navel.
- After holding the breath in the stomach for five to ten second release it through the nose and release your throat lock.
- Steps 1 through 6 is one cycle, repeat 3 to 12 times.
Unlocking the Heart Chakra
In order to assist with unlocking the heart chakra we use the Victorious Breath a/k/a Ujjayi Pranayama.
Procedure for Victorious Breath:
- Close the mouth and slightly open the glottis (the elongated space between the vocal cords).
- Now consciously inhale while flexing the diaphragm and fill the chest with air.
- As you inhale allow the chest to expand and the shoulders to go back.
- Once the chest if full do another throat lock (chin touching chest) to hold the air in place, and hold the breath for five to ten seconds.
- Optional: As you hold the breath imagine a green flame burning in the center of your chest and chant the mantra “YUM” at the heart chakra located in the spine between the shoulder blades. As you chant “YUM” imagine the green flame expanding and growing until it fills your chest.
- After holding the breath in the chest for five to ten seconds breathe out sharply through the mouth two times emptying the lungs.
- Steps 1 through 6 is one cycle, repeat 3 to 12 times.
After practicing the Preliminary Kriya Yoga Techniques spend at least ten minutes in silent meditation with awareness placed on the third eye. You may silently chant the mantra “OM” (pronounced “AUM”) at the third eye as you silently meditate. Imagine the OM mantra energizing the third eye and flowing out into space. Over time instead of chanting the OM mantra at the third eye try to “listen” to it resonate in the third eye.
How long the Preliminary Kriya Yoga Techniques should be practiced before beginning Kriya Pranayama will depend on the individual. Some people may be able to begin Kriya Pranayama immediately, others may need to practice the preliminary techniques for a prolonged period of time. The procedure for practicing Kriya Pranayama will be covered in a future post.