Babaji's Kriya Hatha Yoga Self-realization through Action with Awareness. Video (VHS)
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The teaching, a blend of Patanjali's kriya yoga and kundalini yoga, is attributed to the legendary Babaji Nagaraj, the ageless siddha(adept) introduced to Westerners in Paramahansa Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi. Kriya yoga, the yoga of «ritual action,» is probably not as well known as its eight-limbed cousin, ashtanga yoga, Kriya traditionally has three elements: asceticism (tapas), self-study (svadhyaya), and devotion to the Lord (ishvara-pranidhana). However, the first two elements cited here are practice (abhyasa) and dispassion (vairagya), usually considered the two great «wings» of the classical school and embracing both kriya and ashtanga yoga. The asana practice consists of a fixed series of 18 mostly familiar poses, such as Full and Half Shoulderstand, Plow, Triangle, and Boat. The names given to several of the poses are a bit unusual; for example, the aforementioned Boat, typically called Navasana, is here Vajroli Mudrasana, which is actually what this position is called in the Gheranda-Samhita, a seventeenth-century hatha manual. Along with Shoulderstand and its variations, the sequence consists primarily of alternately forward-sitting and back-bending poses, many augmented by pulsing «micro-movements,« or kriyas. There are only two standing poses: a forward bend near the beginning and a Triangle at the very end, which provides the only twist.
The 100-minute session strolls along with lots of time to rest and reflect in between poses. There are minimal physical instructions, the emphasis being on the energetic and spiritual dimensions of the work. The poses are generally accessible and adequately demonstrated, though the inversions aren't properly cautioned regarding high blood pressure and menstruation, and Govindan demonstrates the Lotus warm-ups by pushing down on his knee, which I wouldn't recommend. But this is an earnest, unique and inspiring presentation, suitable for experienced beginners and intermediates.