“Kneel down in vajrasana, place fists on hip creases in bramha mudra, inhale through the nose lifting the head up, gaze at the third eye and lean forward as you exhale through the mouth, rise as you slowly inhale, keep the gaze on the tip of the nose, repeat…” This is just one of the kriyas in a sequence of extremely precise and frequently challenging kriyas experienced in one of Yogi Kaivalyananda’s Prana Kriya Yoga classes at Radiant Yoga Marbella…
Kaivalyananda, as teacher manages to be the masterly disciplinarian while at the same time exuding warmth and good humour as he puts a packed studio through its Prana Kriya paces.
One of the more rigorous yoga practices offered at Radiant, Kaivalyananda is clearly doing something right as he frequently has to turn away eager students when squeezing another yoga mat into the room for a demanding session of Prana Kriya is simply an impossibility.
So what is it exactly about Prana Kriya that makes this unassuming Scottish yogi’s classes so irresistible?
Clearly Kaivalyananda’s own conviction about the merits of this particular yoga discipline has quickly forged his eager following in class. He explains, “4 years ago, I was given an initiation in Kriya yoga. Personally, it didn’t move me much, but then I met Yogi Ashokananda, a teacher with an Ashram in India. He introduced me to Prana Kriya Yoga and it blew my mind from day one.”
Kaivalyananda, who also teaches Hatha Yoga classes, elaborates, “Hatha yoga is great – you feel wonderful afterwards – but with Prana Kriya, you feel something entirely different. It leaves you with an abundance of energy, while feeling peaceful inside. I have seen with students regularly practicing Prana Kriya, the transformation is rapid. I have students who’ve been practicing yoga for over a decade, and they see more development in six months of Prana Kriya than in the previous years. You can see it in their energy levels, their skin, their happiness…”
Prana Kriya Yoga is a powerful practice, harmonizing the flow of physical movement of the body (kriya) with its energetic potential (prana), making you more aware of your spiritual nature. Kaivalyananda explains that the practice originates from his teacher Yogi Ashokananda who learned from a very young age a multitude of techniques from masters of India including kriya yoga, tantra, kundalini, Vedanta, hatha yoga, bhakti and meditation. Prana Kriya Yoga therefore encompasses a variety of powerful kriyas which work effectively on the different bodily sheaths (physical, subtle and causal), the chakras, the energy channels, the organs, the five elements and the vital airs (pranas).
According to Kaivalyananda , the level of experience and knowledge that his teacher has is far beyond any other teacher he ever encountered. To him, it is very clear that the self-experimentation his teacher has undergone has allowed him to fully feel the impact of each kriya on the particular aspects mentioned above, meaning that the precision of his system and the sequences within it, have a huge and very fast transformational impact on the student.
Prana Kriya Yoga involves physical movement, breath, breath retention, body locks (bandhas), drishti (gaze) mudras (gestures), mantras and meditation. Energizing and cleansing, Prana Kriya is powerfully health enhancing.
Kaivalyananda attributes the precision aspect of the Prana Kriya practice to the speed of progress. “Where you direct the gaze, for example, if you look at the tip of your nose or your third eye, has an impact on the gravity point in your body and can affect the endocrine system differently. Similarly, whether you are breathing through the nose or the mouth, and where the air is reaching, the belly or ribcage, changes the impact.” Add these examples and many more subtleties together, and they affect the different systems of the body: chakras, endocrine, energy channels, nervous system etc. The changes take place within, for example, the nervous system, allows the student to deal with life’s situations with more ease and acceptance.
Kaivalyananda brought his Prana Kriya Yoga practice to Radiant Yoga Marbella less than a year ago and the interest is huge. “Some students don’t like the strange noises, uncomfortable postures, the discomfort of holding the breath, and the fact that Prana Kriya is ‘different’ and some don’t come back – maybe they are not ready for this yet as it takes them too far out of their comfort zone. On the other hand, those students who give it another try and stick at it undoubtedly undergo life transformations and spread the word about the transformative impact of the discipline.”
Kaivalyananda has seen some students have a particular problem solved in just one class. To give an example, one lady had for most of her life had zero sense of smell. After one kriya, she suddenly shouted with joy that she could smell everything and was so happy to again smell the rain, cow poo (a weird one to be happy about!) and all of life’s other aromas. Another example was a lady who had suffered with digestive pain for 3 months who had it disappear in one class.
Others need more time to start resolving their issues as the kriyas work through the different layers. What is certain, according to Kaivalyananda’s experience, is that the benefits come much faster than through any other style of yoga.
Eventually what tends to happen is that the student works through their issues (physical, emotional, mental) and starts to melt into their inner peace and get deeper into the bliss of self-discovery and self-realization.
A Life Prolonging Practice
Prana Kriya Yoga is attributed to slowing down the ageing process. As Kaivalyananda reveals, “throughout the ages, this was noted in India – that people working with such practices could live longer – and this is now filtering into the West through my teacher and his students.”
As Kaivalyananda explains, there are very clear physiological reasons why Prana Kriya is anti-ageing.
“The practice recharges the blood with oxygen and decarbonizes it – which means carbon in the bloodstream is reduced. Then the atoms of the extra oxygen can be transmuted into more ‘subtle’ life force energy to rejuvenate the brain and spinal centers. If the brain stays young it may help to prevent diseases that afflict our society such as dementia.
In some kriyas you are holding the breath for longer stretches of time. This can stimulate the brain’s capillaries to dilate. In this way, more capillaries in the brain are opened up to improve cerebral circulation. The brain also stores a certain amount of carbon dioxide that allows for a more efficient oxygen exchange and carrying capacity of the lungs.
By preventing the accumulation of venous blood (less oxygenated), the kriya yogi experiences less decay of tissues in the body, literally slowing down the ageing process. Similarly, by certain actions performed in some kriyas such as sucking the belly in, tonifies the organs and detoxifies them. All of these processes help the body to work more efficiently and thus live longer.
The Fast Track to Joy
As Kaivalyananda affirms, Prana Kriya Yoga can make you feel happier and more positive. “With Prana Kriya, you will feel more awake and alert – but inside more calm and relaxed. Once the energetic blocks are removed, we can experience more joy, clarity and focus in our lives.”
Kaivalyananda, who also teaches Hatha Yoga, recommends combining the two. “Practicing Hatha Yoga also complements Prana Kriya Yoga. Hatha yoga helps open the hips, strengthen the muscles and the core which in turn allows you to sit for longer periods of time for meditation and to take on more demanding kriyas.” He adds, “with hatha yoga, it is difficult to reach enlightenment, but with a serious and dedicated practice of Prana Kriya Yoga, you may just take a step in the right direction.”
At present, Kaivalyananda is the only yoga teacher authorized by his guru, Yogi Ashokananda, to teach Prana Kriya in Spain, Jordan and Scotland, and the only teacher authorized by him in the world to run immersion programs. This may be down to the precision involved in teaching the kriyas. “Every last detail can affect the effectiveness and safety of the kriya, it is so important. If you do the wrong drishti, or gaze, or the wrong breath, this can have a negative effect over time. I have experimented with this on myself, doing the kriyas incorrectly on purpose to feel the difference. If a teacher were to teach it incorrectly in a one-off class, there may not be a big impact – but a whole course could harm you if not carried out precisely. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that the teacher understands every point precisely, and this is why I have dedicated years to understanding the process in order to bring my students the most powerful benefits.”
For details of Yogi Kaivalyananda’s Prana Kriya classes at Radiant Yoga Marbella see the studio’s schedule here. For further information about Kaivalyananda and his retreats and initiations in Scotland, Jordan, Spain and India visit www.cameronmcinnes.com
Radiant Yoga Marbella is a respected yoga studio offering a complete range of yoga classes in their Marbella studio including Hot Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Ashtanga Rocket Yoga, Anusara Yoga, Yin Yoga,Traditional Hatha Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Aerial Yoga and Kids’ Yoga.
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