Gardener ways are much more favourable, frankly, for they are linked to living and growing. A gardener judges various imported seeds and learns to consider if the seedlings can have a future in the new homeland. Does the climate and other general conditions agree? Will a hot-house be needed? And so on. Thus, learn to consider "the soil" that methods and tenets are rooted in. Do we have near-identical conditions here? Will it be worthwhile to invest time and energy in plants that may be awfully hard to produce.
The principal advantage of "gardener yoga" is that you may enrich your life by clever appropriations of good ideas and methods from other parts of the world. Maybe some cultivation helps too. In fact, very much good food in Scandinavia is imported. Potatoes, tomatoes, and on, on.
You have to know how to handle the new items too. For example, if you expose potatoes to much light, they become green and hence poisonous. If you do not, you may eat them and be happy. Apply gardener thinking to ideas and ways you come across, and much may become different.
Relevant yoga practice may be more of a both-and and an either-or: You try to adapt yoga teachings and methods to yourself, your conditions and so on. If not, you may be in for big troubles. Many are "washed up" like that. You try to adapt yoga to yourself, mainly, but you are told and exhorted to comply to urges and wishes of gurus or guru vicars, and as a result may lose favourable assertiveness. Guard against it, and refrain from dropping your elementary human rights in order to please gurus that have whims.
❋ Elementary and sanity-helping yoga knowledge is not barred from a beginner.
We don't really know what is right or real . . . we are often incorrect in our judgements. - Yogananda [Ak 414].
Yogananda started his own church society for acquiring "real or personal property of any kind or nature whatsoever." (see article 2a, b, and c.) Only in article 2d came "to teach a religion or preech (!) a religion." Physical pleasure is branded as improper in it (2d,13): the undefined "physical pleasure" must include healthy carnal pleasure too. Consider if you can how this Yogananda church is set up to go against voluptuous enjoyments of many sorts.
Church members who were rather denied a lot, while the church grabbed property and some leaders revelled in luxury and some have mistresses and the like: have you heard of such things in medieval times when lots of people lived like serfs?
You should not adapt to that if you value your health and key belongings.
is intended to fit persons of a more or less devotional nature. Good yoga is in part aimed at rising above human emotions of relating:
(1) Ramakrishna has described how he was told by his chosen aspect of God Mom herself to rise above her, transcend her. For that reason a naked man, Totapuri, came and told him how to. [Story]
(2) In kriya yoga, some make love-attempts and others not. But love is not the most important, and even Yogananda himself tells so:
The satisfaction of love is not in the feeling itself, but in the joy that feeling brings. Love gives joy. We love love because it gives us such intoxicating happiness. So love is not the ultimate; the ultimate is bliss. - Yogananda [Jse 3]
In the light of this, devotees who obey some of Yogananda's injunctions and more or less fervently "cry for Divine Mother" on and on for years, could be misguided and suffer unnecessarily. What if she comes and is Kali-bloodthirsty? At any rate, we do not have to be devotional and much demanding to practice kriya yoga. Lahiri Mahasaya makes it clear that the aim is to enter profound peace, hold on to it and let it grow as well. Yet one is not to desire results of the practice, he also says. [Some quotations]
is an "avenue" of work. The words 'karma' and 'kriya' have a common origin, kri, do, and both stand for (some sort of) work.
is a yoga of body discipline, postures, pranayama (breathing methods) that are aimed at mastery of the vital force, prana. Mental techniques of concentration and meditation may be involved too, so hatha yoga may give the same benefits as raja yoga. The difference between them is a difference of focus and what methods predominate, in some cases.
Raja yoga, or "kingly yoga"
incorporates hatha yoga asanas (postures), breathing training, concentration and meditation (dhyana) methods. There are many of them.
- is thought of as 'wisdom's way'. The discriminative faculty of the mind is used thoroughly to go to the source of yourself. It is not said to be an easy path in general.
- is a system of methods- a whole medley of methods. Exactly which methods are incorporated and their order of performance, may differ from one kriya school to another.
Kriya proper (in a more limited sense) is mainly a pranayama (prana) method. Gentle kriya practice may be followed by meditation - that is one way to do it, and described in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras.
Mantra yoga, or yoga of sounds
- is involved in hatha yoga, raja yoga (and kriya yoga), and is also held to be an OK, independend yoga branch in itself. A yoga posture fit for sitting is recommended along with it. The steady focusing on the sound or sounds is at the heart of it. There are lying postures for mantra meditation too, for those who cannot sit much and long.
Tradition, Research and Wisdom
It helps to find methods that work very well, independently of your temperament and inclinations and yet are well suited to you. So go for studying good methods and yoga ways and quality research into meditation methods before you commit yourself, or before you make a blend of some of them. In actual practice, more than one of the yoga ways above is made use of.
❋ Good yoga methods may not save you, even though Yogananda in some places says kriya yoga will, for he also says that divine grace or devotion or both are needed too. How he messes with the minds of the devoted followers, that guru.
This modern yoga classic by a the India-born, world-famous guru Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952), is based on the First Edition of 1946, which is in the public domain. There are several editions of it on the Internet already.
The first edition was published by the Philosophical Library in New York City in 1946. I have found it all right to translate the book into British English. The content is still the same in all major respects, but with a bit updated language, comments and introductory matter that may be helpful for getting a clearer understanding of Yogananda and how to deal with his teachings. There is also a newly devised table of content that incorporates pages of chapters in a later edition (the 11th). Italics in many Sanskrit words are dropped for now. Photos of gurus and yogis in the original are as a rule not included.
Yogananda's book was quite recently selected one of the 100 best spiritual books of the 20th century by Philip Zaleski and a committee of 16 world-renowned scholars and authors, and that goes to show that some think more of it than I do, frankly.
Do not be taken in and misled by halting ideas and ideals of Yogananda. Instead cater to what is truly good for you.
Yogananda and the fellowship he set up, claim to straddle two or three big horses: Science, Krishna-Hinduism, and "Original Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ". Basically, it is Hinduism we are led into through the book, and the hyper-romantic guru lore in it. There are mentions of 'science' in Yogananda's teachings, but too little concrete. along with the religious garb or lore from this and that angle. Krishna-Hinduism is found, but no essential Jesus-Christianity, for the whole concept is a phantom - at any rate Jesus said he taught for Jews only. Also, not a thing from the mouth of Jesus was included in Acts 15:28-29 when the foundation of Christianity was laid. There are only four requirements for Gentile Christians. [Wikipedia, s.v. "The Apostolic Decree"]
Many sound, carnal pleasures are not ruled out for Christians.
Now the Apostolic Decree means you may do well without Jesus and still be a Christian, as that is what all the apostles and the Holy Spirit decided in Acts 15. The early Christians were Christians during the generations before the four gospel were tailored and chosen for Church use. [More]
The inconsistent Yogananda-concept of standing for original Christianity for non-Jews would also include the whole Law of Moses on Jesu's word, and therefore lots of slaves too, not just serfs of SRF. However, according to the gospels, Jesus talk against having other masters, against false Christs, and so on (see previous page). But all the apostles and the Holy Ghost decided that only four things were to be required of non-Jewish followers [Acts 15; 21:25], so it might do good to regard Jesus' snarling as irrelevant and desist from cutting off limbs, plucking out eyes, and settle on poverty while allowing bullies the best of it all. What do you think?
Standards of Living
Scientists are trained to be quite pragmatic and sceptical. The basic scientific procedure is scepticism put into system, one may say. The guru accommodated much better to that in his early years, as evidenced in his magazine (there are article titbits on-site). The guru who advocates straight, scientific thinking, says, "The best way to remove your weaknesses is not to think about them [Dr 410]." If so, the best could be not to think about them in the best possible way - and such a way is neither of suppression, repression or religious bigotry, one may add.
Besides, it helps to know that life is moving through stages too. Do not miss any of the important id-linked stages of Erik H. Erikson. We should not overestimate flaunted miracles and underestimate "the miracle of savoury, tactful, daily living" with its recurrent events. Apart from the idea that each life is a miracle, each day, nature and thoughts and so on. Most people depend on ordinary living. Sane standards of living should take such matters into account without beating about the bush.
The guru of Yogananda did not advocate belief, but rational inquiry. "Many teachers will tell you to believe; then they put out your eyes of reason and instruct you to follow only their logic. But I want you to keep your eyes of reason open; in addition, I will open in you . . . wisdom, says Yogananda's guru, Yukteswar. [Ak 114]
At times Yogananda does the same. "I wanted never to be so dogmatic that I would stop using my reason and common sense." But later in life, after he had got his own church with his own religious order, he took to religious exhortations. I mention this to offer a perspective of the guru's drift to "Goddy pep talks" too. The kriya yoga methods the guru taught, were stunted, but worked twelve times better - the hype took over. [More]
Accommodating oneself to Yogananda
As a sworn-in SRF member you are supposed to accommodate yourself to the guru's "divine teachings", and not so much the other way round, ideally. Beware of a little cosy way of life, then.
Much on this page has sought to put Yogananda's autobiography in perspective. It was written with the aid of devoted, monastic servants, and is presently published by such persons too. The first edition was not published by SRF, though. Later editions have been rather astonishingly changed after the guru's death. Year by year, new changes. Some hardly worth mentioning, others more notable, for example changes that serve to monopolise kriya yoga. See the first page on preliminaries.
If you are attracted to the "bait" of kriya yoga hype and want to learn it and help others to get happy through it too, much untoward may come in the way, pretty much sectarian and inconsistent, that is. You should be aware of that, and in advance, before being "bitten" somehow.
You could do yourself a big favour and believe next to nothing like a willy-nilly, for things may get saner that way. [Link]. Many accommodations that ensue from taking some man-fishing Hindu gurus on their word, do not further a fulfilling, rewarding living, a healthy way of life. Yogananda - and his lengthened arm SRF, holds strict views against sex, have set up weekend fasting that is, possibly, without merit, want you to donate and will to their church, and offer written guru guidance that may cause sleep deprivation as well. In short, SRF and Yogananda invade private spheres against sound carnal pleasures, make changes in Christianity's God-concepts, and ask for a suspect, oath-confirmed loyalty for many lives, if needs be.
To repeat, there is much at stake if we give up rational questioning, and it should be worthwhile to go rational. Instead of accommodating helpful yoga teachings to more or less rabid Christianity, I would prefer going for true benefits. You must dare to go against a big Führer problem in this. Maybe it helps to be made aware that Yogananda hails dictatorship too, but not in his autobiography. He has "many mouths", that one, and his sect and publishers has authoritarian sides beneath gentle phrasing.
Here is one Yogananda quote: ""Ever fed, never satisfied; never fed, ever satisfied" is a true axiom about unwholesome sense experiences [Ak 195]." He also says, in other words, that "Too much of a good thing is a bad thing". As the other evidence points out, he means "Much of a good thing is a bad thing" too, and that may be alarming. Compare his guidelines for "colonies", as he called the self-supporting communities that his fellowship has abandoned (!). He wanted followers to go hatless and in sandals - or barefooted - in the snow or burning sun. [More]
Sound mesure is not to be forgotten. Beware of a cloven foot, that is what I say.