It is a commonly held perception that spiritual practices are inherently benign and cannot cause any harm.
This belief could not be further from the truth.
Any practice — irrespective of its origin or context — can have both positive and negative effects on an individual.
The danger in any practice comes when a person does not understand its theoretical principles, its underlying logic, or its potential downsides.
Now: does that mean Kriya Yoga is dangerous? Let’s take a look at this form of yoga today:
What is Kriya Yoga?
In order to understand whether Kriya Yoga is dangerous, we have to get to the bottom of what Kriya Yoga even is.
Kriya yoga is also called the “Yoga of Action or Awareness”, and it is a form of yoga that utilizes a series of breathing techniques and meditation exercises.
It is a form of yoga that was developed by the Indian mystic Paramahamsa Yogananda.
He was a direct disciple of Sri Yukteswar Giri, who himself was one of the first disciples of the famous 19th century yogi, Lahiri Mahasaya.
Yogananda’s teachings are based on the principles laid out in the ancient text, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
The practice is believed to enable practitioners to experience transcendental states and unite with Brahman or God-consciousness.
The aim of kriya yoga is essentially to achieve spiritual awakening or enlightenment.
Kriya yoga utilizes a combination of these things:
- kriya yoga meditation
- pranayama breathing exercises
- yoga postures
- hand gestures
Doing kriya yoga on a daily basis is said to help the yogi achieve god-consciousness or unison with their higher self.
What are the 6 Kriyas?
There are 6 kriyas that are part of the kriya yoga practice: they are related to cleansing and purifying the human system, which will allow a balanced flow of energy through the body.
Kapalabhati (skull shining breath):
Kapalabhati is a breath of fire that cleanses the respiratory system and the nasal cavities.
It is used to clear blockages in the nasal passages and to increase the flow of energy throughout the body.
The kapalabhati breath generates a cool breeze that sweeps away all impurities, toxins, and negative energy.
It is believed to help one’s health because it clears out any blockages in the respiratory system.
Trataka (gazing without blinking):
Trataka is an exercise where one fixates on a point without blinking.
It is said to activate the tear glands and purify the visual system. It can also improve your eyesight.
Neti is a technique that is used to purify the nostrils.
It is done by washing out the nasal cavities with salt water, but there are other techniques that use milk, ghee, or a waxed threat.
Dhouti is for cleaning out your intestine so that you can clean out impurities, toxins, and negative energy.
Nauli Kriya strengthens and purifies all internal organs.
Vasti is a way of purifying the rectum and is essentially just a yogic enema used to clean the colon.
What Are The Benefits of Kriya Yoga?
Many of these benefits are related to the specific techniques of kriya yoga.
By using the kriyas to purify your body, you are also releasing energy blockages.
Such energy blockages are believed to be the cause of many diseases, including cancer.
Kriya yoga is believed to help you to a spiritual awakening.
A spiritual awakening is a realization that you are a spirit and not just a human being.
One of the goals of kriya yoga is to help you realize this spiritual truth.
Kriya yoga is also believed to help improve your health because it helps to purify the body by cleansing impurities.
Combining all these benefits makes kriya yoga an amazing practice that can really boost your spiritual practice and bring you further along on your journey.
Is Kriya Yoga Dangerous?
Even though kriya yoga is an ancient practice, it is important to note that the manner in which it is practiced today is not entirely consistent with how it was practiced in ancient times.
For example, the ancient yogis practiced their techniques in the forest, away from society.
Such an environment provided the yogis with an optimum level of safety — they did not have to contend with the noise of modern life or its distractions.
But that is only a small issue.
In reality, Kriya yoga is pretty advanced, given the different hand gestures and practices.
Without proper knowledge or preparation, it is probably best to stay away from this practice.
Now, kriya yoga is a very powerful technique, and as we know, the more powerful and potent something is, the more dangerous it can potentially be.
Kriya yoga allows the practitioners to work directly with energy, which is an amazing skill to have, but also dangerous in the wrong hands.
In other words, the standard kriya yoga practice is not really dangerous, but if you are not careful and do not understand what you are doing, it could be very dangerous for you.
You need to know what you are doing and you need to understand how to properly ground yourself after the practice.
My advice? Don’t be afraid of kriya yoga, but simply find an experienced yogi who can teach you the ropes.
Potential Problems With Kriya Yoga
Now, while the dangers of practicing kriya yoga are not as severe as some people make them out to be, they are still present.
Let’s take a look at them now: The first and most important problem with kriya yoga is that people often fail to understand its theoretical principles, its underlying logic, and its potential downsides.
The second problem with kriya yoga is that it is a very potent and intense form of yoga.
It is not uncommon for a person to experience life-altering results from kriya yoga in as little as two to three months.
This potency also means that it needs to be done flawlessly and in an experienced manner.
The third and most important problem with kriya yoga is that it requires a person to be extremely self-aware during the course of its practice — both during the initial stages and throughout the entire course of the practice.
The fact that kriya yoga is a potent form of yoga means that the potential downsides are equally potent.
The fourth problem with kriya yoga is that it requires a significant amount of discipline and self-control during the course of its practice.
Spiritual awakening and enlightenment are not reached otherwise.
The fifth and final problem with kriya yoga is that it requires a person to have made a firm commitment to the practice before actually beginning the practice.
You need to be committed to the fact that you will be learning this practice and then go through with it.
Potential Downsides of Kriya Yoga
The most important and valid concern with kriya yoga is how potent it is.
The fact that kriya yoga is a potent form of yoga means that it is also a potent form of self-exploration.
What this means is that kriya yoga can be used to explore your own psychological makeup — which can be a very positive thing if you are aware of the process and if you are aware of the possible pitfalls of the process.
Now: if you are ready to explore yourself, that is an amazing thing, but some people aren’t.
You see, there are some demons people prefer not to face, so if you are doing this practice, you might be confronted with things from your past that you wanted to forget.
Working through them is amazing, but it will also be difficult.
The second and equally valid concern with kriya yoga is that it requires a person to be extremely self-aware during the course of its practice — both during the initial stages and throughout the entire course of the practice.
This is important because kriya yoga is a very intensive and potent form of yoga — and as such, it has the potential to both open you up, and also potentially hurt you.
For this reason, you need to be self-aware and understand which practices are working for you, when things might be too intense for you, and when to stop.
How to Avoid Danger While Practicing Kriya Yoga
Now that we have discussed the potential dangers of practicing kriya yoga, it is important to note that is not an “all or nothing” situation.
You do not have to go all out and undertake a full-fledged kriya yoga practice.
You can begin by simply observing your breath for a few minutes every day.
Over time, you can slowly increase the duration of your breath-focused meditation — until you are able to do it for 10-15 minutes at a stretch.
Once you have a regular spiritual or meditative practice, you can start exploring the realms of kriya yoga.
I still advise you to find an experienced yogi or guru who can help you out with that as best as possible.
It is also important to note that kriya yoga is different for everyone — as is everything else in life.
What works for one person may not work for you. The best way to find out what works for you is to experiment with the different techniques that are part of the kriya yoga practice.
Now: if you’re completely new to yoga, then kriya is maybe not the place to start.
While it is an amazing practice, the intensity of it all might be overwhelming at the beginning.
So, start with something simpler — and then slowly work your way up to kriya.
You might find that the more advanced kriya techniques are not really for you.
But don’t be afraid to experiment with them anyway. And if they’re not working, don’t worry about it — just stop doing them and try something else instead.
In the end, everything is an experiment anyway, so why not?
How Does Kriya Yoga Work?
Kriya yoga works on the principle that everything in the universe is made up of energy.
The human body too is made up of energy — and this energy is called prana.
Human beings are naturally attuned to the flow of prana — but they are also capable of disrupting this flow of prana through negative thoughts and emotions.
When our prana flows freely, we are at our most naturally healthy and balanced.
But when we are out of balance — either through negative thoughts or emotions — then we create an imbalance in the flow of prana.
And this imbalance becomes a source of disease and disease-causing events.
Kriya yoga work to restore this flow of prana by re-balancing the body’s energy systems.
You feel energized and great, and your body is healthy, too.
Because of the physical, mental, and spiritual cleanse that kriya yoga offers, it is not uncommon to experience a spiritual awakening from this practice.
The purpose of kriya yoga is to restore our natural prana flow, and this is a much more subtle level of awakening than most people realize.
Should you practice Kriya Yoga?
You’ve learned a lot about kriya yoga, and while it is an amazing yoga practice, it might not be the right fit for you if you just started out with yoga.
Instead, focus on different techniques until you feel a bit more secure in your routine.
Even then, I recommend getting the help and advice of a yogi or guru before exploring this yoga technique.
If you are interested, there are videos online that you can watch about this topic, too, in case you want to simply learn a bit more!
All in all, just see what feels good for you and your body, that should always be your number one indicator of whether or not something works for you!