In his Yoga Sutras the sage Patanjali defined yoga as “neutralization of the alternating waves in consciousness,” which Paramahansa Yogananda said can also be translated as “cessation of the modifications of the mind-stuff.” In other words, yoga produces the pristine inner stillness and focus necessary for superconscious perception.
Through the techniques of pranayama (life-force control) of the Kriya Yoga path, the meditating yogi directs mind and life energy inward, thus stilling the near-constant restlessness that characterizes ordinary, outward-directed consciousness. The techniques provide a needed bridge from chaos and distraction to inner stillness and finally to the bliss of the soul.
Taken together as an integrated system, these pranayama techniques enable the practitioner to achieve the highest benefits and divine goal of the ancient yoga science.
How to Get Started
Paramahansa Yogananda’s SRF Lessons for Home Study
It was the wish of the illumined masters who sent this spiritual path that these sacred techniques be received under a pledge of confidentiality not to divulge them to others—a time-honored principle that ensures the techniques are transmitted to succeeding generations without alteration and also helps the sincere seeker to focus on self-improvement and avoid the potential distraction of becoming a self-appointed teacher of others.
In keeping with ancient spiritual tradition, Self-Realization Fellowship makes the advanced spiritual techniques available only to students of the SRF Lessons, a home-study course for which all interested persons may apply. This is the first step to learning the Kriya Yoga science of meditation taught by Paramahansa Yogananda.
“The salvation of souls through Kriya Yoga is my singular aim,” Paramahansaji wrote in his commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, God Talks With Arjuna.
In the first year of Lessons study at home, students learn the first three techniques described above and Paramahansaji’s principles of balanced spiritual living. This gradual introduction has a purpose. As a mountain climber seeking to scale the Himalayas must first undergo the necessary conditioning and acclimatization, so the seeker needs this initial period to acclimatize his or her habits and thoughts, condition the mind with concentration and devotion, and practice directing the body's life energy. Then the yogi is prepared to ascend the spinal highway of realization.
After approximately eight months of preparation and practice, students are eligible to apply for initiation in the technique of Kriya Yoga and formally establish the time-honored guru-disciple relationship with Paramahansa Yogananda and his lineage of enlightened masters. Those who choose not to take the step may still continue their study of the Self-Realization Fellowship Lessons.
Whether or not one ultimately decides to request initiation in Kriya Yoga, all who are earnest in their practice will realize for themselves the truth in Paramahansa Yogananda’s assurance that it is possible to reach the highest states of divine consciousness through the basic Self-Realization Fellowship techniques listed above—though Kriya Yoga is the fastest and most effective method.
By enrolling for the Lessons, you will receive comprehensive explanation of these techniques, covering all the details taught by Paramahansa Yogananda in person during his many years of instructing disciples. In addition, many in-person and online instructional resources—including audio and video classes on the techniques, given by direct disciples of Paramahansaji and other senior SRF monastics—are available exclusively to students of the SRF Lessons.
Even if you have not enrolled for the Self-Realization Fellowship Lessons, you can still learn the basics of meditation through initial instructions and guided meditations on our website—tools you can use right away to begin experiencing the manifold benefits that meditation brings.