What is Kriya Yoga? Philosophy and Practice

Kriya Yoga is an integral body-mind-soul methodology for spiritual awakening. Self-discipline, self-study, and self-surrender remove impediments to direct knowledge, and the natural experience Self-realization ensues.

Fall in Love with Your Life and Live the Life You Love

Life can be a perpetual search for happiness in its myriad forms—pleasure, security, success, contentment, joy. Ever notice that we look for it and find it, only to lose it again? Or want more from wherever it seemed to come from?

At some point, we begin to ask: What is this deep desire for happiness? Is there a way to satisfy it once and for all? What do I really want? Can I find freedom from sorrow? Is that even possible? When these questions arise, the journey of spiritual awakening begins.

Kriya Yoga, a universal, time-tested philosophy and practice for spiritually awakened living, lights the way.

What is Kriya Yoga?

Kriya Yoga is a path for spiritual awakening—a way to discover our essential nature and live a more conscious and fulfilling life.

“Kriya” means “action” and “yoga” means conscious union of body, mind, soul, and Spirit. Yoga, in the highest sense, is realizing we are one with the Infinite—integrally connected with all that is.

“Kriya Yoga” simply indicates those actions we take that contribute to the realization of this innate wholeness.

Yoga Sutra of Patanjali

  • Self-discipline, self-study, and surrender of the illusional sense of separate self constitute Kriya Yoga.
  • Kriya Yoga facilitates superconscious union with Absolute Reality and reduces and removes the causes of suffering.

The Components of the Practice

Here are the steps and actions we take that contribute to the realization of Oneness.

  • We meditate and experience our essence of being.
  • We contemplate and inquire into the nature of Reality.
  • We reflect on how to live with wisdom and compassion.
  • We explore, engage in spiritual practices, and discover what works for us.

Complete Practice of Kriya Yoga

"God can be realized through Kriya even while leading a worldly life." –Lahiri Mahasaya

My spiritual teacher, Roy Eugene Davis, often remarked that many reached out to him for initiation and instruction in the practice of Kriya pranayama after reading Paramahansa Yogananda’s autobiography, thinking that pranayama comprised the entirety of the practice. He would clarify: Kriya Yoga is a complete practice that includes a disciplined, healthy lifestyle, study of the nature of Reality, adherence to ethical precepts, regular practice of superconscious meditation, dedicated discipleship, living with higher purpose while contributing to the well-being of all, and surrender of the illusional sense of separate existence.

We 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.

Human Condition

Perspective of the Spiritually Awake

Kriya is a dynamic form of pranayama. Still, the enlightenment path of Kriya Yoga is so much more than a technique. The Sanskrit word kriya means action or practices. It can refer to those actions we take to purify the body and mind, as well as the spontaneous purificatory actions (kriyas) initiated by awakened kundalini (primordial cosmic energy). The word kriya combined with the word yoga (Kriya Yoga) refers to the comprehensive philosophy and practices for spiritual realization and actualization.

Think of Kriya Yoga as a mystical path of homecoming. Like mystical paths in all traditions, Kriya Yoga leads back to Self- and God-realization. Like the universal archetype of the prodigal son or daughter, we find the greatest happiness awaits our conscious return to the divine true Self within.

How Do You Practice Kriya Yoga?

Kriya Yoga brings together the most effective elements of all systems of yoga including:

  • Step-by-step meditation methodology of Raja Yoga with its eight limbs of practice;
  • Surrendered devotion of Bhakti Yoga;
  • Focused self-inquiry pathway of Jnana Yoga; and
  • Importance of selfless service that is Karma Yoga.

The emphasis in this tradition is placed on healthy, purposeful, conscious living, supported by superconscious meditation practice. It is an intentional, universal approach to Self-realization and spiritual enlightenment. Enlightenment is not only the goal for every person; it is considered the certain destiny. Since we are already spiritual beings, enlightenment is the revelation of that, waking up to it. Knowing it. Living it. Everyday.

There is no spiritual condition to create and no enlightenment to attain. Only the realization of what is so.

Kriya Yoga offers a timely and time-tested perspective that enlightenment is natural. It occurs when the mental obstacles to it are removed. When the mind becomes calm and quiet, it is illumined by the radiance of the Self. Then the truth of what we are is naturally revealed. It is experienced. This experience transforms us because it changes our point of view. We are no longer a person identified with the body and mind who thinks they might have a soul. We now know we are the soul, we are That. We are the divine Self, expressing through the body and the mind.

Kriya Yoga Lineage

This system of Kriya Yoga reflects the teaching emphasis and specific procedures of the Kriya Yoga tradition brought to the West by Paramahansa Yogananda. Yogananda came to America in 1920 with the blessings of his guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar, to spread the liberating teachings of Kriya Yoga in the West. He initiated thousands into the spiritual practices of Kriya Yoga and inspired seekers worldwide to discover the liberating truth of their spiritual nature and their relationship with the Infinite. His seminal book, The Autobiography of a Yogi, remains a bestseller today and continues to attract seekers to the path.


Yogacharya O’Brian with her teacher, Roy Eugene Davis

Yogacharya O’Brian with her teacher, Roy Eugene Davis


Among those Paramahansa Yogananda trained, and ordained to teach and initiate others into Kriya Yoga, was his disciple Roy Eugene Davis.

Yoga in this tradition has been passed on through the centuries from guru to disciple in this way—through instruction, initiation, and transmission. I met my guru, Roy Eugene Davis, in 1979 and was initiated by him into Kriya Yoga the following year. After initial training, Mr. Davis ordained me to teach in this tradition in 1982. I have been teaching Kriya Yoga meditation methods and lifestyle wisdom now for over three decades. I am profoundly grateful to my guru, Roy Eugene Davis, and our lineage of Kriya Yoga masters whose spiritual light illumines this path—Paramahansa Yogananda, Sri Yukteswar, Lahiri Mahasaya, and Mahavatar Babaji.

Kriya Yoga is a spiritual path, not a religion. It is a way of life, open to all who seek to live a spiritually balanced, wholesome life. Whether I am teaching at our Kriya Yoga Meditation Center in California, or speaking at other centers or retreats across the US, or around the globe, it makes my heart sing to meet people from such diverse backgrounds—different faiths, ethnicities, cultures, economic status or vocations—joined by the common goal in the heart of every seeker of truth—the goal to awaken.


A Path for Spiritual Awakening

Seeing lives transform—hearts blossoming with compassion and minds illumined by inner wisdom; watching people discover lasting happiness and inner peace that cannot be taken away by circumstances—gives me great hope for our world. A sustainable way to live in harmony with nature and with one another can only arise from an awakened heart and mind that recognizes our oneness, our common humanity, and shared divinity with all of life. I am not shy about holding the vision of an awakened world. It is possible. I see it—one awakened person at a time.

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