Kriya yoga is considered by its advocates to be a holy process which involves purification of the body, reawakening of the soul, and spiritual teaching. In its pure form, it is only to be passed down form one chosen yoga master to another who may then direct students in this sacred process.
Although kriya yoga is an ancient practice which was supposedly passed down from the gods through many worthy disciples, its fame is most often attributed to Yogi Master Paramahamsa Yogananda, whose book, Autobiography of a Yogi, was published in 1946. In this text, Yogananda explains that Yogi Mahavatar Babaji and Jesus Christ collaborated on a plan to bring spiritual redemption to the world. Kriya is one of the few yoga forms which connects Hindu traditions with Christianity in any way.
Those who participate in Kriya yoga must first learn to think of their spine as a hollow straw extending up the back into the brain. Through this, they try to locate the points of spiritual energy, or chakras. The first is found at the bottom of the spine, the second in the area near the sacrum, the third in the lumbar area, even with the belly button. The fourth one lies near the center of the shoulder blades where the shoulders and neck join; and the fifth can be found somewhere near the center of the neck.
Yogi Babaji selected eighteen yoga postures to be included in Kriya yoga. In a steady progression so that alternating periods of relaxation are experienced, the asanas must be performed with deliberate precision. The lotus and half-lotus are popular for meditative purposes, and the perfect pose is also used quite often. All of the poses in Kriya Yoga can be adapted for beginning and advanced students.
Kriya Yoga places even more emphasis on coordinating the right breathing with each asana because this type of yoga explores the connections between the mind, energy, and the intake of air. A monosyllabic chant, such as ohm, or whispered meditation is usually used to help focus the mind on this controlled breathing technique. This is eventually replaced with silent deep breathing.