Kriya Yoga Practice


The Sanskrit word prana means many things. Basically, it means energy at all levels, whether subtle or gross. In its most gross form it can be interpreted as matter, since, as Einstein concluded, matter is merely localized and 'solid' energy. Atomic physicists are investigating this type of prana when they split the atom. In man, this level of prana is called the annamaya kosha (the sheath that is produced from food). It is the physical body. It is this type of prana called matter that most people can understand. Moreover, it is the physical body that most identify with as being predominantly the 'I'.

At a slightly more subtle level there is prana or energy that coordinates 'physical energy' or matter. In modern scientific terminology it is widely called bioplasmic or bioluminescent energy. It is also called odic force, vital energy and an assortment of other names. This type of prana streams through everything from the smallest pebble to the mightiest galaxy, from the tiniest insect to man. It is the link between mind and matter. In man, this level of energy is collectively called the pranamaya kosha (the vital or etheric sheath). Most people in yogic circles tend to understand only this level of energy as being prana. There is no objection to this, but by our definition prana encompasses all types of energy. Few people seem to be able to identify this aspect of their being, but if it is out of balance, then they will certainly feel the effects in the form of illness and fatigue. Bioplasmic energy is a part of our human framework, and can certainly be experienced and known when one's perception becomes more sharp.

Even more subtle than bioplasmic energy is prana in the form of mental energy. This controls both the physical and the bioplasmic energies in the universe, whether in the form of stones, plants, animals or anything that exists in any shape or form. In Sanskrit, it is called the manomaya kosha (the mental sheath). This level of prana is experienced by all humans in the form of thought. Moreover, it is the mind, together with the physical body, that most people identify with and regard as being the entire 'I'.

Prana also exists and functions at even more subtle levels, but we will stop at this stage. It is sufficient to say that prana is the energy that underlies the entire manifested universe and all that it contains, whether visible or invisible, tangible or intangible. It is also called Shakti, and in India the various types and aspects of prana are represented by multitudes of deities such as Durga, Kali, Uma and so on. These deities are worshipped because the prana symbolized by these deities can bring either auspicious or inauspicious changes into one's life.

Without prana, nothing can exist or function. Everything is prana in a myriad of different shapes and forms. Without prana there is no life. Furthermore, without prana it is not possible to practise yoga. It is pranic flow that allows one to practise asanas, pranayama, karma yoga, bhakti yoga and so forth. Meditation cannot arise without an injection of subtle prana. And the flow is spontaneous. It happens; one cannot really make it happen.

Kriya number 16 is called prana ahuti. The word ahuti means 'infusion' or 'injection'. This practice can therefore be translated as 'the infusion of subtle prana'. You will not succeed in kriya yoga meditation without this prana. It is grace that allows this prana to infuse your whole being. Prana ahuti invokes this inflow of supercharged divine energy that will take one into a new dimension of being. The practice is both symbolic and invocative.

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  • Marzia
    Is ahutii a form of bhakti yoga?
    7 years ago

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