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A Group Of Students Practising Kriya Yoga And Meditation

The photos in this article show a class of older students practising kundalini kriya with our senior teacher, Shailendra Singh Negi.
The following is a brief explanation of kundalini kriya.

What is kundalini kriya?

While asana starts with a focus on outer alignment, kundalini kriya is the art of finding inner alignment.  It awakens the inner spirit.  This is done by linking the body, breath and mind by observing the movement of prana throughout the body. 

Kundalini kriya is a practice that has a greater appeal to those seeking an inner focus as it involves techniques where movement is secondary to the practice of observation.  When the movement ceases, one’s life energy can be witnessed at a physical level as heat, vibrations and other impulses such as light and colour, and on a mental level as calmness, peace and tranquility. 

Kundalini kriya is a powerful practice that is based on intense pratyahara (i.e. withdrawal of the senses), which results in bringing one closer to inner concentration (dharana) and eventually leads to a state of meditation (dhyana).  Students who are externally focused can use some asana-based postures initially to help them make the transition from the physical to the internal. 


The practice of kriya is based on the ancient tradition documented by Patanjali.  The basis of a kriya practice is five-fold, involving:

  1.  Movement,
  2.  Sound,
  3.  Managing the breath and holding the breath,
  4.  Attention to different energy centres and parts of the body, and
  5.  Tensing and relaxing different parts of the body. 

Patanjali explained in Chapter 2 of his Sutras (Sadhana Pada, Sutra 1) that the basis of inner discipline is threefold: 

  1.  Tapas (austerity or discipline),
  2.  Swadhyaya (self-awareness), and
  3.  Ishwara Pranidhana (surrender to the divine will). 

All kriya practices see tapas as a necessary part of the practice because it is the basis of training the senses and mind, turning from outward to inward, and preparing for self-awareness (Ishwara Pranidhana).  Through this, you can transform your life so that you are living more consciously, and starting to experience the connections between yourself and the divine.  This will gradually lead you to an attitude of surrendering to the divine.

In a kriya practice, you learn to become a witness of what is happening within.  It awakens the inner eyes, which helps you to experience your prana (life force), leading to the experience of stillness, dharana and dhyana.  In the early stages of the practice, one lacks inner tranquility (or purity of mind) and is not grounded.  In this state, you experience only thoughts of the past or the future; but your inner growth will depend on how much determination you have to bring your mind into the present moment.


To make the most of a kriya practice, you should understand the three functions of your prana shakti:

  1.  ICHA shakti – desire
  2.  JNANA shakti – knowledge or experience
  3.  KRIYA shakti – action 

Each stage leads to the next – you initially desire something; then you get the knowledge about how to manifest it; and finally, you take action.  The desire comes from memory; the knowledge comes from your research, and the power for action comes from the soul.

In the physical dimension, the shakti functions through three different states:  dullness (tamo guna), action (rajo guna), or equilibrium sattva guna) – according to one’s state of mind and attitude.  Your actions in tamo/rajo guna are a misuse of shakti if it is not an appropriate time to be in that state, i.e. everyone needs tamo guna in order to be able to sleep, and rajo guna to function.  But at other times, these two attitudes are unhelpful on a spiritual journey.

In essence, everything is energy or shakti, and knowing this helps to make you feel gratitude for the fact that it functions within you.  On a subtle level, this energy is called kundalini shakti, which is the dormant energy lying at the base of every person’s spine.  In most people, only 5% of their potential energy is ever used – and it is done so for the needs of daily living – eating, sleeping, having sex, working and so on.  But by awakening one’s energy potential, there is a possibility for a person to raise their consciousness and transform their life.

The more you practice kriya, the more vibrant you will become – you will literally be vibrating more, and become more alive.  It will show in your features, and in the way you move.


Below is an example of each of the practices associated with the six major chakras, some of which can be seen in the photos.

  1.    Muladhara chakra – adhara kriya
  2.    Swadisthana chakra –
  3.    Manipura chakra – manipura kriya
  4.    Anahata chakra – anahata chakra
  5.    Vishuddhi chakra –
  6.    Agya chakra – guru kriya

At the end of the class, the students practised deep relaxation by focusing and relaxing each one of the chakras through a method known as chakra dharana yoga nidra.

You will see that even those who are not able to sit on the floor can participate in a kundalini kriya class, so this practice is for everyone.

If you are interested in practising a full 20-minute kriya yoga class, follow this link to our YouTube channel: 

Sacred Pilgrimage To Dev Prayag And Chandrabadani

Just 34 kilometres from Dev Prayag is the sacred Chandrabadani Temple, which is one of the great 51 Mother Divine temples scattered throughout ancient India.  The following story explains the history of how this temple came about.  

Devi Sati was the daughter of Prajapati Daksha who was a Brahmin priest.  Devi Sati was married to Lord Shiva but her father disliked him.   One day, Daksha performed a special a fire ceremony and invited all the Gods except Lord Shiva.  Devi Sati begged her father to show respect to Lord Shiva, but Daksha refused and insulted Sati in front of his guests.  This angered Sati who cursed her father and his sacred ritual; then she jumped in the fire and burned to death.

A grief-stricken Shiva roamed the universe with Sati’s lifeless body on his shoulders.  The gods eventually asked Lord Vishnu to help Shiva overcome his grief.  Lord Vishnu threw his chakra and dismembered Sati’s body into 51 pieces which fell to the Earth.  Temples arose in all the places where Sati’s body or jewellery fell. This is how they became Mother Divine temples.  Lord Shiva stayed in isolation until Devi Sati reincarnated as Parvati.  

This is the history of the beautiful and sacred Chandrabadani temple.  Pilgrims from faraway places come to Chandrabadani to worship Devi Sati and seek her blessings.


This group of students spent a spiritually charged day in the north Indian area of the Himalayas, which is considered by many to be the spiritual centre of the world. 

Why is this area so special to those on a spiritual path?

A pilgrimage to the Himalayas

The Sanskrit word Himalaya means “snow abode”. 

The sacred Himalayan mountains offer the experience of infinite energy, which helps people to connect with their inner nature.  For individuals on a spiritual journey, the Himalayas are the ultimate destination for the soul.  The experience of the Himalayas is in the form of non-verbal teachings, which have the power to shift inner energy blockages.

There are hundreds of temples and sacred sites throughout the Himalayan foothills.  They are home to north India’s most significant spiritual places, such as Kedarnath, Badrinath, Yamunotri and Gangotri, many beautiful monasteries, and many hidden secret spiritual sites as well.

A visit to the Himalayas will show you some of the most breathtaking panoramas on Earth.  Many sacred herbs and plants exist in the northern region of the Himalayas, which is also known as DEV BHUMI – the land of Divinity.

The great Himalayas have been the source of immense peace, tranquility and enlightenment for countless sages, yogis and spiritual gurus.  Every year, devotees from around the world undertake a holy trek to these sites despite all the challenges offered by the extreme geographic and weather conditions.  The Vedic Yoga Centre offers annual pilgrimages to the major sites at Gangotri and Badrinath, and from time to time to other sacred places closer to the Centre, such as:

•   Vashishta Gufa

•   Tat Walla baba cave

•   Dev Prayag

•   Chandrabadani

•   Panch Kedar

•   Panch Badri

There are many more such holy sites, but the purpose of visiting them all is to help you travel the pilgrimage within.  It has been a long tradition in India that whenever people are unaware of their inner pilgrimage, and they feel an absence of peace, happiness and clarity, they seek outer pilgrimages because these sites carry the higher spiritual vibrations that help them to connect within, and purify and develop their awareness to their own sacred temple within. 



Indian festivals are an opportunity to heal, refresh and develop an awareness of your inner divinity.  Festivals are a celebration of life, which has two dimensions – outer and inner.  People are often so caught up in their external life that they forget their connection with their inner life. Even if they regularly practice yoga, their focus is distracted due to the stresses of external life. 

The ancient rishis, sages, yogis and masters, have given us these celebrations with very auspicious timings. They are astrologically planned for a time when the planets are aligned so that the highest forms of energy descend on you.  Celebrating outer life during these times offers a greater opportunity for healing because you can more easily connect within.  These festivals are very powerful moments for developing higher concentration towards your spiritual practices. 

Holi is the festival that awakens the inner colour of your life’s higher fragrances and marks the beginning of the Spring season.  This festival is a possibility to heal and repair your channel of love and affection towards others so that you can forgive them (and yourself), forget and move on.  The offering of colour to each other is a gesture that gifts this same colour to the Source of life residing within you.  This year at the time of Holi, we had visitors from many parts of the world celebrating with us:  Kyrgyzstan, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Israel, Australia, Ukraine and Poland. 

On the eve of Holi, Indians celebrate with fire, which represents the burning and removal of darkness within humans.  It commemorates a legend in which Holika tried to murder her nephew, Prahlad, using a boon from the Gods that made her safe from fire.  Holika sat on a large bonfire with Prahlad on her lap, but Prahlad’s faith protected him from the fire while Holika herself was burned to death.  As part of the celebrations, bonfires are burned in many public places to symbolise the burning of Holika. 

The legend itself is the demonstration of power between light and dark – it doesn’t matter how deep your darkness is, or how low your energy, emotions or state of mind; if you constantly connect your mind and awareness to the Supreme Self, that power can transcend the darkness within you.  As that inner darkness is dissolved, you are able to experience the higher dimensions of your inner life. 

On the day of Holi itself, Indians celebrate with flowers, water and colour.  This tradition started from the time of Radha and Krishna, who used to play together in Vrindavan.  At that time, these items were used as elements of unity because they help to channel one’s expression of love and energy.  In a deeper sense, it is about integrating the solar and lunar forces within you, also known as Shiva/Shakti or Radha/Krishna One-ness.  At a rational level, these ideas may appear to be different, but they have one purpose: to strengthen your eternal nature – peace and bliss.

Celebrations of this type have been ongoing in India for thousands of years.  Each year the dates are determined by the alignment of the planets.  The specific alignments offer the optimal energy for devotees to elevate their spiritual practices.  The vibrations in the air there are stronger and help the mind to be more focused on one’s day-to-day sadhana, which is the living reality of those who practise genuinely.  It promotes the feeling of giving and sharing, which is one reason that people gather at these times.  It creates an intensity of energy that expands and preserves people’s faith in their inner consciousness.  Even if you don’t know any practices, then whatever ritual you perform in your outer life should be offered first to the Lord.

In modern times many people forget the inner significance of the festival of Holi.  The purpose of celebrating in the outer dimension is purely so that you can connect within.  As a practitioner, you should celebrate and remember that the One who resides within you is the very first to whom you should offer the blessing of this festival, to bow down to the Source within you.  At the Vedic Yoga Centre, we celebrated Holi by gathering together to perform a healing fire ceremony (havan) and offered different gestures of worship, such as the exchange of colours.

Vedic Yoga courses and programs, Rishikesh

The Science Of Vastu – The Ancient Indian Art Of Architecture

What is vastu?

The entire culture of India is based on a science, which can lead you to your total well-being.  The particular aspect which covers the construction of buildings, including your home, is governed by the science of vastu

This science is contained in the Brihat Samhita of Varamihira – in the chapter on Vastu Shastra, in which it states, “I will explain … the science of architecture that has come down from Brahma, through a steady line of collective wisdom”.  This document explains that the construction of your home should be totally based on the ancient science of vastu if you wish to experience the balance of energy and harmony on your physical, mental and inner levels, while living in this building. 

The basis of vastu is the force of energy.  There are two energy forces in nature – the solar and the lunar, which are combined with the four directions – north, south, east and west, as well as with the energies of the five elements – earth, water, fire, air and space. The harmony between all of these in the architecture of your home will determine the harmony within the building itself. 

Perhaps not everyone can experience a direct connection to all of these forces at the physical level, but you should at least be aware of the appropriate direction of specific areas of your home if you hope to find harmony in that particular space.  Only then can you experience what is truly meant by vastu – living in harmony.

This shastra teaches us that vastu is both a science and an art – not only does it make your living arrangements pleasant but it also gives long term harmony and prosperity to those living within the building.  However, those living in this home must also have an attitude of gratitude for everything that they have been given:  in the same way that the system of vastu has a Brahmasthana (the centre of the house where the solar energy is centred and can radiate to the different parts of the home), so those who are living in it must also have access to their own Brahmasthana – their own life-centre.

How to use vastu in practice

So, before you start building your home, you should create a drawing of the floor plan of your home – this is called the Vastu Purusha Mandala.  It should look like this:


vastu purusha mandala

This mandala symbolises the metaphysical principle of the all-encompassing celestial principles.  It includes the energies contained in all the topographical items on the actual land on which you are building – soil, rock-formations, oceans, rivers, mountains, stars, planets etc. 

Specific vastu functions in your home

In the system of vastu every school of thought interprets the scripture slightly differently, and so their point of view towards the directions of different areas in the house will vary.  We are sharing with you the most appropriate and most commonly accepted view-points.

The central and corner sectors of your building are identified with the five primary elements of earth, water, fire, air and space (the Pancha Mahabhutas).

Pancha Mahabhutas

·       Water (udaka) relates to the north-east

·       Fire (agni) relates to the south-east

·       Air (vayu) relates to the north-west

·       Earth (prithvi) to the south-west

·       Space (akasha) relates to the central area

The next step is to divide the construction into nine equal sectors as follows (called Peeta Mandala).  Any activity in your residence should be based on the cosmic position of the five elements, as shown above:

Pancha Mahabhutas

The particular areas of your home will be most in harmony if they face the following directions:

·       Dining room – west (north or east is second best)

·       Prayer room – east, north or north-east

·       Living room – east or north

·       Bedroom/s – north-north-west

·       Bathroom – facing west, but within that area, the toilet should be constructed so that the person sitting on it is facing north.  The toilet could also be constructed to the west of the building, north-north-west or the south, south-east or south-west direction.

As mentioned above, the most significant point of this science for a yoga practitioner is that you should be aware that this knowledge should be used to find your own personal harmony so that you can connect to your own centre within.

In our next article we will discuss the connection between vastu, the five elements and the chakras.

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