Kriya Yoga – Interview with a Master & Founder of Kriya Yoga Ashram

Kriya Yoga is a form of deep breath, body and mind training developed in India during the rise of yogic training over 2000 years ago. In August 2010 I had the privilege to spend a summer within the Himalayan Mountains of Rishikesh. Staying at the home of the Dalai Lama, the mountain village of Dharamsala (the new home of the Tibetan exiled population) the previous month, I ventured to Rishikesh to practice meditation and yoga with my good friends and current Masters of the many forms of meditation and yoga available.

I recorded my interviews with these Masters and thought I would share these insights with anyone wishing to experience a unique perspective on life and the pursuit of happiness.

This is an interview with Swami Shankarananda Giri, International Director of Kriya Yoga practice passed down to him by direct teaching from a lineage of 10 generations of true Masters. He is direct successor of Yoga and Meditation Guru Swami Paramahansa Yogananda made famous by his book “Autobiography of a Yogi” – click if you wish to read more about his incredible journey.

Location Kriya Yoga Ashram, Foothills to the Himalayas Rishikesh, India. A monsoon rainfall surrounded us as white clouds slowly took us over and continued on their path.

Please click the play button in the recorded audio below to hear a live recording of the interview:

First half of interview – Swami Shankarnanda (First)

Second half of interviewSwami Shankarananda (Second)

First Question:

Michael.Kriya Yoga Ashram Rishikesh India
Many in the West associate meditation and yoga as a spiritual endeavor. With certain issues about Religion happening around the world – there is an aversion to anything Religion related.
What is the difference between Spirituality and Religion?
Sw. Shankarananda Giri
All the ‘isms absolutely cannot agree. Spiritually comes from within only. Neither from temple, mosque, church or synagogue. It only comes from the human temple, the body temple.

The person who realizes that God is only within. After having total realization, absolute realization that God is within. Can then the person visualize God everywhere – clouds, stars, sky, animals, temples.

Otherwise speaking and imagining God, is on a donkey… You can just imagine how the situation will be.

Especially the youngsters in western countries. What they are using as spirituality? They are using only their minds, which is more dangerous than the sects. Each individual will spoil themselves.

On the other hand – the sectarian people – from all isms, is thinking of ways to increase their members. Even very many spiritual institutions. Very busy only increasing members. Never mind how proper their teachings are for their students about true spirituality.

Though Western people are very busy for spiritually, I afraid. I pray god for people to get true spirituality. Let God shower the blessings to all mankind. That everybody should forget their caste, religion, and all this sectarian approaches.

Humanitarian point and true spirituality – that is what I mean. I don’t like to criticize any ism’s.

If one sect would conquer the world, there would be big internal divisions.

There is only one spirituality. Only when one has been separated from spirituality does Religion start. Religion starts the separatism, sectarianism, and sects bring catastrophe and war.
I understand that you have been passed down the art of Kriya Yoga from a lineage of 10 generations of respected masters. Here you teach Kriya Yoga to the many seekers in search.
What practice do you provide your pupils to experience the true depths of Life and Kriya Yoga here in the ashram?
Sw. Shankarananda Giri

We provide meditation which is based on our “Prana” known in English as our breath, vital energy, or life. To make people to cool down, calm down. Especially in this age, everyone is very busy. Physically not, only mentally very busy everybody is.

If you think of the physical part, everyone is almost doing nothing physical. Everything is based on machine, machine is doing all.

So physically a machine is doing all jobs. Only man is sitting and thinking, and that is the biggest problem in this age. Because God has given you a physique to have a physical exercise through your job through your work, through your daily activities. But now we have shifted – only going to your toilet, going to kitchen, eating your food, the rest machines do. Even you don’t have to chew so much, you only have to swallow – even digestion is now done by medicine.

So the human is getting so selfish. Just don’t like to use their muscle tissues, body they don’t like to use, only want to use mind, sitting and using mind. And that is more dangers for human being especially for the earth now.

Especially if catastrophes are happening, and it is happening now. And in the future it will happen more – because of our polluted mind.

So we bring our students, such techniques, from which they can be free from this catastrophic mind.

We also advise people to have physical exercise, but not through non-productive actions. We can do so many productive things and treat it like exercise, work on the road, clean and help others, tend the fields the vegetation that surrounds us.

This part we make people conscious of that pollution is coming from every side but cleaning we do nothing.

Now meditation and yoga is available in the spiritual supermarket, especially the Western people want what is palatable, comfortable. If you speak so much of the mind, and if you want to engage these people, you have to give them a mental job.

Using your mind without using your body, is very bad for the mind, and human being.

The disconnect from Mind|Body, an imbalance arises.

Sw. Shankarananda Giri

Yes, exactly.

People are never grounded always floating, they think in such catastrophic ways, everything is a catastrophe.

This is a very powerful statement – symbolizing ego.

Sw. Shankarananda Giri


The meaning of using muscle power – means going skiing, doing an exercise.

This is ok to do.

But voluntarily they can go to the field or the street and do something in the morning. Like what they do in the gyms.

Runners don’t imagine how much energy they are wasting themselves, and how much problem they are causing – if a runner is running you need to take care of that man, or a biker! Everyone has to watch out for them as they get in the way.

Go to the green field or street, and sweep, clean the garbage – wear gloves and be protected yourself, so you are protected and do something beneficial for this world. Use your hands, legs, muscle.

Bridge over the Ganges Rishikesh India
The next Question. For those outside the ashram – how should they approach their own practice and bring this compassionate Meditative action to their everyday?
Sw. Shankarananda Giri

All we give is suggestions and instructions. No instructions, no suggestions, only Meditation. If one meditates it will change you and your daily life.

Also, Breathe. Meditation and Breath.
How should we breathe?

The dog breathes very fast has much anger, frustration, jealousy.
The elephant the most powerful and large, but always moving slowly, breathing quietly.

I don’t mean be like an animal, but illustrating that breath will change our situation. If one knows how to do and come close and use this tool for power, our prana. They will balance their life properly.


It is so powerful because nature provides such infinite knowledge – it has evolved for so many years before the mind had the urge to build and develop. Just now science is just realizing the incredible intricacies in nature, and the powerful effects of breath practice.

What is your message to the world?
Sw. Shankarananda Giri

Proper Meditation.

If everybody would find their own world, and individual religion. When each individual changes, through inner exploration, it will bring change throughout the world. This will change our atmosphere and even planet.

Then the world can remain proper and even politics will change.

When I am conscious about myself I am conscious of the whole world.

Only a very little mind will think of their own religion; I am from this religion, I have to do this I have to do that – this is very clumsy and very narrow minded – I have to convert the whole universe, the whole world into my religion – and that creates a political problem.

It happened in the past, in many religions many people were forced to convert one religion to another one. This never works, it only leads to competition, civil war, even to world war.

It is very important of the teacher that is teaching – have to be very careful they must be. Don’t remove people from their own status. True spirituality is purely humanitarian, if somebody do this proper – without touching anything, without polluting anything, one can help this world and themselves greatly.

Thank you Swamiji Shankarananda Giri.

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