Kriya is a Sanskrit term. Essentially it’s a set of exercises to help move energy throughout the body. Although there is some resemblance to “normal” Yoga asana, it’s quite different too.
I am definitely no expert in either Kriyas or Kundalini Yoga, which is the type of Yoga Kriyas are often associated with. I have dabbled a bit, though, taken a course here and there and read a few books. So I am not doing a deep dive here — if your interest is piqued, I will point you to my teacher, Brett Larkin. She has a YouTube channel here (just search Kundalini), and also an app which is amazing, but not free.
Often when you start a Kriya, you do the same set of exercises for 40 days. The exact same exercises in the the exact same order. I did one last December I think. I haven’t done another one since then . . . until the other day when on a whim I picked up one of my books and just did one. I did it the next day, and the next . . .
According to the “rules”, if you skip a day, you have to go back and start from day one until you complete forty days straight. Many Kundalini practitioners practice in the morning — for the same reason many runners run in the morning. Get it done before the day gets away from you!
So it’s sort of like a run streak, except that there are consequences if you skip a day — unlike a run streak, which you can break at any time. Of course you could just stop doing your Kriya; I don’t think you’d be struck down by lightning or anything.
That’s all my AM Yoga that you see on my weekly run downs!
Kundalini is different
There are many different types of Yoga. Kundalini was shrouded in mystery for centuries. There were few books, and of course way back when no Internet. Generally it was passed down from Guru (teacher) to student. In fact, for thousands of years that’s how all Yoga was taught.
Now we do have Internet, and the veils have been pulled aside. In Kundalini Yoga asana, pranayama, and meditation are all bundled up together. “Regular” Yoga, for instance, has you practice asana, then pranayama, then meditation. Kundalini may have you do asana, pranayama, and meditation all in one pose.
Many poses have movement in them, or involve holding your legs or arms up for fairly long periods of time. It can be very challenging physically, and sometimes triggering mentally. It can also help tone your body all over — especially in areas we don’t get to as much as we should, like our core, lower back, and hamstrings.
Why am I doing a 40 day Kriya?
I didn’t really have that intention when I picked up my book. I guess my intuition guided me to try something different. You can practice Kundalini Yoga without doing a 40 Day Kriya.
I settled on a Kriya for energy. Because I feel as though I’m always lacking energy. You know what? I definitely felt better after I practiced that particular Kriya! That’s why I decided to just keep going with it.
My teacher advises not judging a Kundalini pose/Kriya on how you feel during, but how you feel after (sound familiar, runners?).
I don’t really recommend that you just search YouTube for Kundalini videos. You can trust Brett’s videos.
Committing to something — much like running a long distance race — can give you such a sense of accomplishment when you finish. Some days you’ll be excited and some days you really won’t want to do it, but in the end, you just know that you’re going to come away a changed person — in a good way.
Does this just sound really bizarre to you or interesting?
When have you committed to doing something for some amount of time (not running!)?
What did you gain from that commitment?