How we breathe affects all the vital organs and systems of the body but especially the heart, brain and nervous system. Science has proven a direct correlation between one’s breath – its length, depth, duration and capacity – and a state of either anxiety or well-being. When under stress, the breath automatically becomes shorter, more frequent and shallow – a condition we in the west unfortunately more often than not experience as normal. This breathing pattern holds our state of mind at a level of ‘fight or flight’. Alternatively, a calmer, slower and deeper breath pattern actually sends signals to our autonomic nervous system resulting in a more relaxed state. At a more subtle level, this type of breathing decreases the carbon dioxide in the lungs and bloodstream, resulting in a corresponding increase in the pH of the blood. This homeostatic occurrence allows the blood to become less acidic, resulting in a more effective blood oxygen synthesis.
Kriya means action. But a kriya is not just any action; it is action that leads to manifestation. Just like the seed for a sunflower blooms into a sunflower, the kriya for intuition results in enhanced intuition. To break it down, a kriya is a codified sequence of postures, pranayam, and mantra that integrate together in a specific energetic way. When you focus on a particular kriya and practice it, the energy within your body responds by moving in a very precise way.
In other forms of yoga, kriya is used to mean cleansing. Both translations work, for indeed a kriya is an action that cleanses the mind, body, and spirit of blockages that might prevent it from manifesting its own highest potential. Truly practicing kriya is a state of non-resistance. When the kriya calls for difficult work, extra energy is expended. When the kriya calls for rest, energy is conserved. There is no partial action; you are in a state of flow. Your whole-hearted presence within the kriya brings a state of grace and ease.