India: Kriya Yoga
Immersing in the Kriya course was a challenging endeavor for me. I often teach Kriyas in class as a moving meditation or physical exercise repeated over and over so that it becomes something you must persevere, creating tapas (heat) for purification. While that's not far off from what was taught in Indu's afternoon classes. Her repetitive asanas tended to be simple with no anatomy or alignment emphasis. Mataji's Kriya class instead focused on the 20 main Kriya yoga practices for pratyahara, dharana, and dhyana (control of the senses, concentration and meditation). We essentially went through a series of pranayama (kapalbhati and bhastrika), some walking mediation, and Kriyas that all focused on the chakras (the 7 energy centers of the body). The course description on the website said the student must be able to "sit for 2 hours meditation and have a desire to live a yogic lifestyle". I suppose that weeds out the folks who are adverse to sitting still and meditating. Not having a consistent meditation practice, it certainly made me pause.
I began to look forward to our 6am class with a sense of quiet anticipation, eager to learn the next Kriya, just when the course came to a close. Opening myself up to new ways of learning, the fire that pranayama brought and the process of intense concentration allowed me to drop everything else and be entirely available to experience something new. Purification indeed.