What Is Kriya Yoga?

Kriya yoga is a style of meditation that teaches you how to use your breath to advance your spiritual practice.

Kriya yoga differs from other yoga classes, focusing primarily on meditation and pranayama (controlled breathing). It has little to do with moving the physical body and practicing asanas (yoga poses).

In this article, we will learn about the benefits of kriya yoga, what it is, and how to practice it. We’ll also be sharing a few of our favorite poses and online classes, so you can start today!

Kriya Yoga Definition

Kriya yoga is a system made up of various levels of pranayama, mudra, and mantra. Kriya yoga intends to speed up spiritual development and help you feel a stronger connection with source energy, the universe, or God (or whichever word you resonate with the most!).

Similar to kundalini yoga (link to kundalini article), kriya yoga works with the energy in the base of the spine. While most yoga practices work with the energy of the spine through movement and breath, kriya yoga teaches you how to access this energy and draw it up and down the spine with the power of your thought.

Although kriya yoga was kept a secret for many years, it’s become more well-known in recent years and is now shared by several practitioners worldwide.

For the best kriya yoga experience, it’s recommended that you train with a guru who has learned through word-of-mouth from their own guru.

Benefits of Kriya Yoga

As with any yoga practice, there are some general and some more specific benefits to practicing kriya yoga. Here are just a few of the more specific benefits that you may experience.

Releasing the ego

The ego (or sense of ‘I’) is part of the conscious mind and an awareness that we have an identity and a body. Kriya yoga allows us to detach from our identity to reduce the limitations that we put on ourselves.

Greater control over self

The practice of kriya yoga allows you to enter a state of peace whereby you can approach and experience your life with great control over your emotions and state of being.

Brain stimulation

Studies suggest that kriya yoga alters the brainwaves and brings our subconscious mind into the conscious mind – allowing us to access our true nature.

Bringing energy to your body

One of the purposes of kriya yoga is to awaken the energy that we each have at the base of the spine. This brings energy to the body and mind while strengthening our connection to self and source energy.

Reduced stress

Kriya yoga, much like other forms of yoga, allows you to spend some time in practice and away from the daily stresses of life.

When to Practice Kriya Yoga

Kriya yoga is ideal if you’re looking for a spiritual practice that will help you progress on your self-development journey.

Kriya Yoga techniques

There are six kriyas called Shat Kriyas, which aim to cleanse the organs and allow life-force energy to enter your energy centers (or chakras). These cleansing practices are powerful and best practiced under the guidance of an experienced instructor.

The 6 Shat Kriyas are:

  1. Kapalabhati (skull shining breath)
  2. Trataka
  3. Neti
  4. Dhouti
  5. Nauli
  6. Vasti

Here are 3 of the more straightforward practices that you might like to try at home following the guidance of an online video.

Kapalabhati (skull shining breath)

Come to a comfortable seat and bring one hand to your belly. Start making short, sharp, and powerful exhalations as you draw the navel towards the spine – allowing the inhales to become passive. Practice 30-60 seconds before taking a long breath, holding it until you need to release it, and then returning to normal breathing.

This practice is intended to clear your head and stimulate energy throughout your body.


For this practice, you’ll need a small object – such as a candle or pebble – placed at the height of your chest. Sit comfortably and gaze softly at the object without blinking. Start by looking at the object for 10-15 seconds and, with practice, gradually build up to 1 minute but no longer.

This practice is said to stimulate the energy center at your third eye (the space between your eyebrows).


Nati is a technique to clear and purify the nostrils. For this, you’ll need a neti pot. Fill your neti pot with saltwater, then tip your head to one side over the sink. Place the neti pot’s spout into your nostril and pour the solution into your nostril so that it flows out the other side. Breathe through your mouth.

How to Practice Kriya Yoga

You can start experiencing kriya yoga from home by picking a couple of the exercises described above. However, the best place to experience kriya yoga is in a studio or under the guidance of an experienced practitioner.

If you would like to familiarize yourself with kriya yoga before heading to a studio, you can start with a couple of the poses we outlined above or follow one of the videos below.

Start Kriya Yoga at Home

If you can’t make it to a yoga studio or want to try kriya yoga at home, check out these follow-along videos.

Kundalini Kriya for Beginners: Morning Kundalini Yoga Practice

Sattvic Tradition Kriya Yoga for Beginners – What is Kriya Yoga?

Kriya Yoga Energization Exercises with Swami Bodhichitananda

Kriya Yoga FAQs

How Is Kriya Yoga Different?

Kriya yoga is different from other styles of yoga as it focuses solely on attaining spiritual growth. Where other styles of yoga tend to focus on the physical body, kriya yoga focuses on meditation, mudras (a sacred gesture mostly practiced with the hands), and pranayama (controlled breathing) to aid self-development.

What Are the Six Kriyas in Yoga?

The six kriyas are:

  1. Kapalabhati – a pranayama (or breathing) technique
  2. Trataka – the practice of fixing your gaze on an object
  3. Neti – the practice of cleansing the nasal passages
  4. Dhouti – the practice of cleansing the intestines
  5. Nauli – the practice of purifying and strengthening the internal organs
  6. Vasti – a yogic enema, the practice of cleansing the colon

How Do You Do Kriya Yoga Breathing?

Here’s a simple kriya yoga breathing practice to help you learn how to breathe slowly and deeply to bring more fresh oxygen and life-force energy to your body.

Important: Check with your doctor before trying kriya yoga for the first time if you have any type of injury, illness, pain, or you are pregnant.

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