Learn and Grow with : Kriya YogaAug 27, 2018 ● By Carrie Jackson
For more than 30 years, people from all backgrounds are welcome and have explored their spiritual path at the Temple of Kriya Yoga, in Chicago. The Temple, which has been operating in Logan Square since 1979, offers weekly classes, teacher training, astrology, seminary studies, prayer groups, temple services and meditation. Swami Pranananda, a senior teacher, describes it as a place of safety and comfort where people of all cultures are welcome. “We help people find their path of self-study and meditative attunement,” she says.
The Temple of Kriya Yoga, founded by Goswami Kriyananda, is one of the oldest yoga temples in the Chicago area. It has been serving the community since the mid-1960s and was the first place in Chicago to provide hatha yoga classes and a hatha teacher training program. Since his death in 2015, the Temple has worked to extend Goswami’s vision to awaken people’s minds to knowledge, their hearts to kindness and their lives to service. They accomplish this in part by offering online access to Goswami’s teachings, as well as offering teacher training and certification programs in Meditation, Hatha Yoga, Professional Astrology and Seminary for those interested in becoming a swami or an ordained yogic priest.
As an ordained swami, disciple and lineage holder in Goswami’s Kriya Yoga lineage, Pranananda leads the meditation teacher training and seminary programs, and with other swamis, supports many aspects of temple activities. “Besides offering general support and guidance, the swamis at the Temple provide house blessings, baptisms, wedding, funerals, death rebirth rituals, an annual blessing for the departed, visits to those in the hospital or hospice and support during times of life’s blessings and challenges,” says Pranananda. The community may also request meditative prayer support via phone or email from their prayer group.
Although everyone comes to the Temple for different reasons, many have a belief, or a desire to believe, that there is a power greater than themselves. Perhaps something has happened in their life that cannot be easily explained by logic or coincidence. “At the Temple, we understand that people are on a journey to explore, understand, question and find the path that will lead them to an inner sense of peace. Kriya is a way of life that is open for people of any religious inclination. Its basis includes the eight limbs of yoga that start with a focus on ahimsa, or nonviolence,” explains Pranananda.
Many of the teachings involve learning to cultivate personal happiness. “The more content you are, the more contentment is going to find its way into your life. If you spend your day running, ranting and raving at the world, it is hard to make room for gratitude and appreciation. If, however, you slow down, meditate and do the ancillary practices throughout the day, incorporate hatha yoga to stretch the body and balance the energies, then you will find that the life is happier,” advises Pranananda.
Kriya teaches that the mind, body and spirit are all connected, and strengthening one aspect will help improve others. “When you feed the body, the mind and spirit are fed. When you feed the mind, the body and spirit are fed. When you feed the spirit, all are fed. When you think angry thoughts, the stomach becomes upset, and when you eat processed food, the mind becomes upset. We encourage people to find ways to nourish themselves holistically by sending loving kindness, going for a walk, talking to a neighbor or finding something simple that vivifies their life,” notes Pranananda.
“Every thought, word and action has an effect, and you alone have the power to soften the karma which is unfolding in your life, but first you must be willing to take the steps. Kriya Yoga will teach you the greatest yoga posture; learning to stand on your own two feet. This accomplishment will greatly improve your life and help you find greater happiness,” says Pranananda.
For students that live outside the area or with schedules that don’t allow them to visit the Temple, the Temple offers online seminars with topics on karma, dreams, the path, improving your life and many other areas. “The unique aspect of these training programs is that many may be entered monthly and taken at your own pace. We train students from around the world who have a desire to learn and grow,” says Pranananda. The full library of Goswami’s teachings, which includes over six decades of writings, is also available at KriyaU.com.
By providing guidance and resources in a safe, inclusive, nurturing space, the Temple encourages students to explore how their journey fits in to the larger world. “You are a part of life, not apart from life. As you become happier, more content and wiser, you will become a greater blessing unto all of those whom you meet. You will become a better neighbor, friend, work colleague, family member, husband, wife, lover,” says Pranananda.