Cozy Yoga Life by Shannon Caldwell

Cozy Yoga Life Ep07 How to Practice Kriya Yoga

March 27, 2024 Shannon Caldwell Season 1 Episode 7
Cozy Yoga Life by Shannon Caldwell
Cozy Yoga Life Ep07 How to Practice Kriya Yoga
Show Notes Transcript

Join me on my latest podcast episode where I discuss my favorite form of yoga, kriya yoga. Discover the simple three-step process I use any time I need to find balance and harmony. Tune in and uncover how you can benefit from this soul-cleansing, transformative practice. 🧘🏻

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You're listening to Cozy Yoga Life, the podcast for yoga teachers who crave more from their practice and lives. I'm Shannon Caldwell, and I'll be your guide on this journey of simplicity, self care and self discovery. So let's cozy up, unwind, and dive into today's episode. Hello, Cozy Crew, and welcome to another episode of the Cozy Yoga Life Podcast. We have landed on my favorite practice of yoga, Kriya Yoga. It is the form of yoga that I come back to again and again when I feel like my life is getting out of balance and out of harmony. You might not be familiar with its Sanskrit name Kriya, but I bet you have practiced this form of yoga without even realizing. Now, if you will indulge me in a short Texas- accented Sanskrit lesson, Kriya, which starts with a K R, Kriya, That loosely translates to do or an action. And we've seen that before in, karma yoga, which roughly translates to selfless action. And if you've done yoga teacher training and sequencing, you might recognize it from vinyasa krama, which means a logical sequencing or a logical action, something that has a beginning, middle and end. With Kriya Yoga, the ya roughly translates to your soul, that transcendental self. So when you put the Kri together with the ya and get Kriya, it translates to meaning the action of your transcendental self or the action of your soul. Like all Sanskrit terms, it has multiple meanings and multiple layers and multiple interpretations, especially depending on which yoga tradition that you follow. The tradition and practice that I follow, it is the one that is listed out in the Yoga Sutras. Anytime we talk about the yoga sutras, I'm using my three favorite versions. The first one is Desikachar's interpretation in the back of The Heart of Yoga, the illustrated yoga sutras by Gary Kassiah, and the website swamij. com. The practice of kriya yoga, the one again that I practice and teach is found in the Yoga Sutras, specifically. 2. 1 through 2. 9 and Kriya Yoga was something that was developed as a way to eliminate what the yoga sutras called kleshas or colorings. Desikachar talks about these colorings as quote,"incorrect comprehension and accumulation of unconscious actions. The ways of perceiving that we've been mechanically carrying out for years, the habituation of actions and perceptions that is called samskara end quote. He goes on to say that through disciplined regulation of mental and sensory impulses, self analysis, study of metaphysics, meditation, and the surrender of self consciousness, individuals can eliminate the samskaras and reduce the kleshas. That's a lot of words running together that might not at this moment make a lot of sense, but I'm going to break it down for you, because again, it's my favorite type of yoga. And I really want you to get it. I really want you to understand it so that perhaps I'm not the only one that falls in love with this type of yoga. In Kriya Yoga, the three practices in Sanskrit are Tapas, Svadhyaya, and Ishvara Pranidhana. In English, that roughly means training our senses, or burning impurities, studying yourself, and surrendering to the divine. And if these three steps sound familiar to you, You are right, because they are the last three Niyamas that we talked about in the previous podcast episode. Before I dive into more details about Kriya Yoga, let me just do a quick overview of the five afflictions, those five colorings that we work our whole lives to overcome and eliminate. And when those are eliminated, we have a clearer picture. We have a better connection with our soul. The first affliction is ignorance, and this is what Desikachar says is a vessel for all the others. When we are steeped in this ignorance, It allows the other four to take root and grow. This ignorance is referring to ignorance of ourself, ignorance of how we are a spiritual being, ignorant of how we are connected in a bigger way spiritually. The second one is It roughly translates to I-ness, what you might think of as the ego,. And where we identify with the ego that we believe what our ego is telling us who we are. Swami Jay provides a really great metaphor for understanding how ego or I-ness gets in the way, why it is one of the five colorings. And he says the klesha of I-ness is like the filament of a light bulb, confusing itself with electricity. The filament is the finest, most essential part of the light bulb, but it still pales in comparison to the electricity that is the true source of the light coming into the bulb. The third affliction is attachment, meaning that we are attaching to pleasure. Those things that we like, the fourth affliction is aversion. So that's going to be the opposite side of the coin. We have attachment on one side and we have aversion on the other. So we're going to avoid things that make us uncomfortable, things that we hate, things that bring about discomfort. And the fifth affliction is known as fear, this resistance to loss, to the fear of death and identity,, desire for continuity and clinging to life. Those are our five afflictions and we practice Kriya Yoga to help eliminate those kleshas. Let's dive into now the practice of Kriya Yoga. Those last three Niyamas, Tapas or burning impurities, training your senses, getting rid of that which doesn't serve you any longer. The second one is self study, and then the last one is the surrender to the divine. To help drive home the lesson of Kriya Yoga, I always like to tell the story of the ugly vase, not to be confused with the ugly duckling. The ugly vase starts with. a present that you were given. Maybe it was a milestone birthday present, or maybe it was a wedding present. It was an important present that was given to you by someone who is important to you in your life. When you open up that present, it is the ugliest vase that you've ever seen. It's totally not your taste or style and if you were out shopping, you would never pick this vase for yourself in a thousand years. But because it was given to you by somebody important, maybe like your mother in law that you don't want to upset, you smile and you say, thank you for the gift. Then you have to find a place to display it in your home because you know, every time your mother in law is going to come to your house, she's going to be looking for that vase in a place of importance. So you find a spot in your home, you put that vase there. Every time you walk past that vase, you have a negative thought about it, or you cringe inwardly about it. Over time, that vase may become background, but you're still aware of it. It's still there. It's still something that you don't like. It's still something that robs you of pleasure and is not you. So Kriya, the first part, Tapas, says we get rid of which is negatively impacting us, which doesn't serve us. So you wake up one day and you decide that you're no longer going to keep that vase, that you're going to get rid of it. The negative energy that it brings up, all the days that you pass by it versus the one or two or three days that your mother in law comes over to visit just is no longer worth it anymore. So you take that vase down from its place of importance. Now, when I'm teaching about Kriya Yoga, when we're getting rid of those things that have negative energy to us or drag us down or make us think negative things or just don't serve us, my recommendation is we get rid of it completely. We get it out of the house. We don't store it in the attic. We don't store it in the garage. We don't hide it to bring it back out when the mother in law comes by again. We get it out of our vicinity and we pass it along because even though it may not be right for you or serving you, it may be the exact right thing that someone else is looking for. So that's tapas. We're getting rid of what no longer serves us. The practices can be yoga related. We can do breathing exercises, pranayama techniques. We can take yoga asana classes. We can meditate. I touched on a few of these in the previous podcast episode. But we can also extend that tapas out. to physical body. That's the breathing, the postures, mental, the meditation, contemplation, prayer, but it can also be our physical surroundings. There's a ton of research and studies on how cluttered mind and cluttered surroundings are connected and that if you can clear out your surroundings, it also helps you to clear out your mind. And that is why Kriya Yoga is one of my favorite practices. Back to the story of the ugly vase. So we've gotten rid of the vase. Now we have that empty space where there's nothing there, that place of importance. That brings us to step two, which is self study. Self- study says we don't go out and immediately buy something to replace the ugly vase, we're going to take our time, going to think about it. What do we really want to go into that space that we just opened up? Maybe you decide you don't want anything to go in that space, you want it to remain open and free. Or maybe you appreciate art and you really want to bring in something that means a lot to you in that space. So you're going to take your time. You're going to find what really you want to have there. You decide you want to have a sculpture there, by one. By one of your favorite artists. You know what you want and you're going to keep your eye out for it. That's step two. That's self study, finding what works for you, discerning when it's the right thing or the right course or the right job, whatever that might be for you. You've decided you wanted that beautiful sculpture, but for whatever reason, right now is not the right time. Maybe you can't find exactly what you want. Maybe you don't have the money for it, it's just not the right time. So then you're going to go into the third practice of Kriya Yoga, which is surrender to the divine. Days, weeks, months, however long it may be, you're out shopping. And you come across the exact sculpture that you were looking for. You're shocked you have found it just in some random place, didn't even plan to go there. You had no idea they carried that particular artist. And when you go check out the pricing of that sculpture, You discover that it is the exact price of the bonus that you just received from work. That is surrender to the divine. You release it to the universe. You've expressed what you want. It knows what you want. And so it's going to deliver your very best at the right time, at the right place. That's the story of the ugly vase, which highlights the three practices of Kriya Yoga together. Now, at the beginning of the podcast episode, I mentioned that this is the practice that I come back to again and again and again. And it's true, when I am feeling locked up or stuck or I can't move forward, I usually look around and see what do I need to clean up? What do I need to clear out and get rid of? What I really love about Kriya Yoga and particularly the burning impurities is I have seen that practice in so many other different books, different philosophies. I read about burning impurities before I even knew about yoga philosophy. So when I made that connection between yoga and this first book that I absolutely loved about abundance, I knew it was a practice that would be important in my life. My husband and I had decided that we were going to sell our house. We were, it was time for us to downsize. We had one daughter leaving for college, we had another one that was going to be going in two more years, and then it would just be my husband, myself, and my son. And we knew that the huge house that we were living in,, it was too big for, for For three people. So again, timing, the right place, the right time. We found a smaller house to build and the process began about needing to pack up our house, get it ready to sell and put on the market. That included having to go through and declutter 4, 300 square feet. The most shocking thing when I was decluttering the house, getting rid of furniture and possessions, so much of what was in closets and in rooms were things that I had collected and held on to. Looking back, I can see where I got away from my original practices of Kriya. And I can also look back and see where that accumulation of things, of possessions that I didn't need that were too easy to get rid of. It ended up being a reflection of what was going on internally for me. As I cleared out rooms, got rid of things, donated items, threw out items that were trashed or broken, the more I cleared, the better I felt. And when it came time to move into our new house, which was almost 2000 square feet smaller, was very particular about what I allowed into, what I hung on the walls, what I allowed on the surfaces. Where before I had just random knickknacks or decor, because I thought it was pretty, I got very intentional about what I allowed for decorations. By being intentional, by being particular, and really being mindful about creating a sanctuary in my home. I am a lot happier in this house than I was in my previous home, which was bigger and showier and had a lot more things. That just wasn't important. My mental health needs the white space. It needs some clean surfaces. It needs all of my items to have a home that I can put it back to That is just one of the ways in which I've practiced Kriya Yoga over the last 25 years. Okay, Cozy Crew, I would love to hear from you. Let me know. Have you been practicing Kriya Yoga all this time and just didn't realize it? Share it with me in the comments and let me know some of the ways in which you have practiced Kriya Yoga. That wraps another soul nourishing episode of Cozy Yoga Life. As always, thank you for letting me be a part of your yoga journey. If you enjoyed today's authentic conversation, please subscribe, rate, and leave a review. Until next time, stay cozy, take care of yourself, and keep it real.