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Kriyā (Sanskrit: क्रिया, lit.'action, deed, effort') most commonly refers to a "completed action", technique or practice within a yoga discipline meant to achieve a specific result.


Kriyā is a Sanskrit term, derived from the Sanskrit root kri, meaning 'to do'. Kriyā means 'action, deed, effort'. The word karma is also derived from the Sanskrit root √kṛ (kri) कृ, meaning 'to do, make, perform, accomplish, cause, effect, prepare, undertake'.[1][2] Karma is related to the verbal Proto-Indo-European root *kwer- 'to make, form'.[3]

The root kṛ (kri) is common in ancient Sanskrit literature, and it is relied upon to explain ideas in Rigveda, other Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, and the Epics of Hinduism.[1][4]


The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 2.1 defines three types of kriyā, namely tapas (ascetic devotion), svadhyaya (study of the self or the scriptures), and Isvara pranidhana (devotion or surrender to higher consciousness).

The yogic purifications or shatkarmas are sometimes called the Shatkriyas ("the six actions").[5]

The Kriya Yoga school, established by Yogananda, is centered on pranayama techniques.


  1. ^ a b see:
    • kṛ, कृ Monier Monier-Williams, Monier Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary (2008 revision), pp 300-301;
    • Carl Cappeller (1999), Monier-Williams: A Sanskrit-English Dictionary, Etymological and Philologically Arranged with Special Reference to Cognate Indo-European Languages, Asian Educational Services, ISBN 978-8120603691
  2. ^ Mulla & Krishnan (2009), Do Karma-Yogis Make Better Leaders? Exploring the Relationship between the Leader's Karma-Yoga and Transformational Leadership, Journal of Human Values, 15(2), pp 167-183
  3. ^ John Algeo and Thomas Pyles (2010), The Origins and Development of the English Language, 6th Edition, ISBN 978-1428231450, pp 54-55
  4. ^ See Rigveda 9.69.5, 10.159.4, 10.95.2, Svetâsvatara Upanishad 2.7.v.1, Mahabharata 1.5141, etc.
  5. ^ Shatkarmas - Cleansing Techniques Archived 13 October 2016 at the Wayback Machine, in Yoga Magazine, a publication of Bihar School of Yoga