There are "rules of the game." They vary among the lines of transmission. It could be good to know that, to avoid getting outsmarted into blatant submission.
First counsel. Find kriya yoga teachers that allow you a say and teach for your own good out of compassion and the like. Also, go for methods that work for your own, long-range good. And shun what is clearly detrimental to good growth, and hazardous.
Look to cats. A cat may be one of the finest teachers. If handed-over doctrines conflict with liberal cat living, drop them and maybe you can also remedy mistakes:
There are many teachings as to what constitutes fit yoga. Some traditions, such as Paramahansa Yogananda's, say no to sex for singles and perhaps once a year to married couples. It can be terrible to live up to such rigid endorsements and violate them too as normal needs arise. We normally do well to protect our measure of free will in things that matter. Some have the good luck to preserve an astounding degree of inner independence to favour all right living, and a cat is splendid at it. It rises above sham or dog training too.
Lahiri's teachings. The key yoga practice which Lahiri Mahasaya taught to his disciples, was kriya yoga, a series of pranayama (gentle breathing) practices. Kriya Yoga may also be applied as a training system free from dogmas. Its main value lies in practice. Lahiri taught: "Clear your mind of dogmatic theological debris." Lahiri modified kriya yoga methods to suit different disciples, advised marriage along with Kriya Yoga practice for most of his disciples, and advocated that kriya yoga knowledge be spread without propagation by organisations. Still, some of his disciples started organisations to spread kriya yoga with his permission.
Lahiri's outlook on yoga training links up to Patanjali Yoga Sutras instructions. For example, the left column below shows how he interprets verse verse 2:32 of it. Charles Johnston's translation in the middle column of the table is there to compare with, and so is Vivekananda's to the right. Vivekananda's translation is from Raja Yoga [Via], chapter II. For an online version, see the reference Cos in the Back Matters.
Many Sanskrit words allow for different nuances of interpretation and also different interpretations. As for Lahiri Baba's appraisal of the fourth point, study, it goes into how sruti (revelation, inspiration) is had - by delving into the Sound and origin of scriptures to study, according to Hindu teaching. You may consider it the inward approach to understanding, whereas the other approach rests on understanding as formulated by other people somewhere, some time. This clarifies the different translations of the original, hopefully.
I, for one, think Vivekananda's translation is wohl geglückt - a very good one. Further, his collected works are on-line, for those who seek a well-known yogi's view on a wide range of subjects [Cos].
In decent yoga there are sane primers, sane commitments, sane attitudes and sane handling, including fit "rules of the thumb" with some margins for adjustments. Unquestioning obedience to others and blind belief is not useful for a Buddhist delighting in Buddha's Kalama Sutta. Belief is not really and truly needed for making essential progress, it says. Those who call for submission by blind belief in dictums and dogmas can have ulterior motives. So is it good for development toward Freedom (moksha, nirvana, etc.) to succumb to slavish infantilism?
There is also a need for marking off what is good and bad, to save people from many notorious traps. Being careful like a cat with whiskers in approaching teachings and teachers of yoga can be a good help. Being very careful in choosing a yoga teacher is part of the ancient yogi heritage. A kind guru is benign and someone to thank for.
To remain judicious can bulwark against becoming nuts through bossy or over-bossy slogans.
Today you can learn kriya yoga for free. You may also submit to an authoritarian cult (SRF) to learn it and be boss-ridden for the rest of your life. It may be up to you.
If you want to understand what the delicate, gentle breathing that is called kriya is, here is the basic technique. While you explore it, staying within the set-up regulations, you may also want to study the free teachings in the Sivananda line of transmission. In it, kriya yoga is explained in detail in a repository book (Cy) and a supplement, (Kty). Their approach suits the supple.
Yogananda and SRF of the Lahiri line is sugar-coatedly authoritarian. Yogananda's simplified kriya yoga is surrounded by great, unverified and changed claims, and calls for deep, unfit submissiveness by a guru-serving kriya pledge. One third of the monastics of his fellowship left it in a few years around 2001, disappointed and maybe wiser. [Link]
What goes into elaborate kriya yoga training, is for most part a series of methods in a sort of all-round pack:
In the guru line of Lahiri Mahasaya kriya practice is very time-consuming, and sides of the more or less rigorous life-style required may be more than annoying, such as refusing your wife or husband sex for nine months on end, for example. [More].
In Satyananda's line an elaborate system of kriya yoga is made public, as it is published in books [Cy; Kta]. There are less strings to speak of on that line, if any, and no decreed demands on your life-style, except for incorporating yoga elements it they suit you, basically. [A comparison]
In any case it can't be all bad to think carefully over the conditions and requirements and possible changes and regulations of life-style before one commits oneself. Go for preserving your human rights - and a tough thing to do may be to wait and make no further plans to find a Great Helper -
If you think authoritarian submissiveness is a road to greatest freedom and the thing for you, consult a psychotherapist and try loosening up by sound self-help too. Also, study the research before committing to anything or anyone. That could help. As for the effects of kriya, that is dependent on whether you maintain your autonomy or become a sectarian loser. Among the methods that have been well researched today, ▫TM has proved very beneficial.
Cos: Vivekananda, Swami. The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Vols 1-8. 6th ed. Calcutta: Advaita Asram, 1977. On-line.
Cy: Satyananda Saraswati, Swami. A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya. Munger: Yoga Publications Trust, 1981.
Kta: Satyananda Saraswati, Swami. Kundalini Tantra. 8th ed. Munger: Yoga Publications Trust, 2001.
Mmm: Roth, Robert. Transcendental Meditation Revised And Updated. New York: Plume Books, 1994.
Via: Nikhilananda, Swami. Vivekananda. The Yogas and Other Works. Rev. ed. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1953.
Yn: Satyananda Saraswati, Swami. Yoga Nidra. 6th ed. Munger: Yoga Publications Trust, 2001.
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