Each individual kriya is comprised of a number of subsidiary techniques. These are the basic tools of kriya yoga. Many of these subsidiary techniques are widely known and practised individually. They can be classified into the following groups:
1. Asana (physical pose)
2. Mudra (external expression of an inner attitude)
3. Bandha (physio-psychic locks)
4. Mantra (special sound pattern which can produce subtle impact and change)
5. Pranayama (manipulation of breath to control prana)
6. Psvchic passage awareness These six groups of techniques are the building blocks of the kriyas. They are combined together in a scientific and specific manner in order to bring about changes in one's being. These changes induce the process of pratya-hara. dharana and dhyana that we have just discussed. Individual practice of these subsidiary techniques can have powerful influences on the physical-psychic-mental body. It was discovered by ancient yogis that integration, synchronization and the blending of specific techniques can lead to a vast increase of the power of the techniques when done individually. These yogi geniuses discovered this fact through personal experience and were the founders of kriya yoga. It is these unique combinations that make kriya yoga such a powerful system.
Let us briefly describe these subsidiary techniques:
Asanas: These are specific positions of the physical body. In kriya yoga they are mostly sitting poses. Without a steady comfortable position it is impossible to induce pratyahara. It is necessary to master the relevant asanas so that they are comfortable to assume and maintain and are not a continual source of discomfort and distraction.
Mudras: These are special physical positions of the body which induce specific physiological, psvchic and mental changes in one's being. Mudras often involve the use of bandhas and pranavama, and the internal rotation of awareness through certain specific psychic passages.
Bandhas: These are physical locks which tighten and contract specific parts of the body.
They are associated with breath retention and concentration on specific regions of the body. Beside the physical influences, they also induce profound psychic and mental changes in the human framework. They are especially powerful in inducing control of the pranic forces of the body2.
Mantras: there are a vast number of mantras, each with a specific power. Two mantras are utilized in two early kriyas.
Pranayama: in the first group of kriyas concerned with pratyahara, pranayama is widely utilized as a means to harmonize pranic forces in the body. The flow of breath is integrated with the psychic passage awareness. In later kriyas, the more subtle form of pranayama, namely ujjayi, is widely used. This is a great help in inducing pratyahara and dharana.
Psychic passage awareness: this is a vital aspect of kriya yoga practice. It is due to the subtle perception of ancient yogis that the significance of psychic passages became known. The science of prana was especially developed in India and China. In China it resulted in such a subtle science as acupuncture. In India it led to the development of pranayama and prana vidya (the science of prana flow).
In kriya yoga, awareness is rotated along specific pathways of the body. This in turn induces changes in the pranic and psychic flow patterns of the body. This harmonized flow pattern influences the more subtle aspects of one's being and greatly helps to induce pratyahara and dharana.
These six types of techniques are the basic tools of kriya yoga. Individually they are very powerful physio-psychic-psychological instruments. When they are combined they become irresistible yogic bulldozers. They all act in very subtle ways in the pranic and mental body. They transmute one's being into a sensitive yet powerful instrument of perception.
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