|[ Excerpt from The Science of Yoga, page 95 ]
The Sanskrit word kriya means "exercise" or "action" and is generally associated with techniques of purification.
In yoga, the human is seen as a multi-layered or multidimensional being, and not merely the composite structures, the muscles, nerves, bones, etc., of the physical form. There are five levels of the being, which are known as the pancha kosha, or five bodies, that yoga is concerned about. Briefly, they are:
(more on the pancha kosha later)
- The physical body
- The energy body
- The mental sheath
- The sheath of higher intellect, or super conscious mind
- The body of Cosmic Consciousness
Each one of these 'bodies' affects the one, or the ones adjacent to it, which can eventually affect all of the others in turn. Therefore, purification on many levels is a need for the average person who wants to progress in yoga.
The Practice of Kriya Yoga
Yoga gives us many practices of purification, referred to as yoga kriyas. Many of them deal with purifying the physical body, many with decongesting the energetic, or pranic body, and still others with the mental fields. There are even specific methods in yoga which deal with purification on higher, psychic levels.
Modern lifestyles lead to states of health which are very polluted -- physically, energetically, mentally and emotionally. Thus, as a beginner in yoga, the necessity for cleansing is great on every level and must be undertaken in a systematic, progressive way.
You will be instructed in a set of beginner's purification practices in the next lesson, which are fundamental to bodily cleansing, and you will also be briefly introduced to the concept of the shat kriyas (also called shat karmas), a further level of physical purification.
But purification is an ongoing necessity for all of us. In order to reach higher states of consciousness and to experience more readily the subtle energies within the advanced practices of yoga, we must continue to purify our physical, mental and energetic selves, which are constantly being polluted through our environment, lifestyles and daily habits.
So kriya yoga always remains an integral part of any yoga practice and throughout this course you will be instructed in many different kriyas, each serving a function in furthering your progress in yoga...
NOTE: This yoga article is an excerpt from The Science of Yoga, an online yoga training program with streaming yoga videos and 600 pages of step-by-step yoga instruction.
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