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What is Kriya Massage?

By Brendan McGuigan
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Kriya massage is a modality of massage built around the harnessing of the body’s natural energy. Kriya massage is an alternative modality, and as such there are mixed feelings about its efficacy. Outside of the alternative massage community energy-based modalities are generally looked upon as somewhat questionable, but within the alternative massage community, Kriya is quite respected.

Kriya massage, like most energy-based modalities, has a number of intended effects. It can be used to reduce stress, both as a direct consequence of the massage, and as a longer-term state of homeostasis. It can be used to improve posture and flexibility, utilizing a number of yoga techniques as part of the massage process. Kriya is also a very healing-oriented form of body work, improving the flow of both the lymphatic system and the blood, thereby allowing the body to function more effectively.

Kriya in a larger sense is a term from yoga, in which kriyas are movements that arise unbidden as the Kundalini energy within is unleashed. The kriyas that came about naturally eventually evolved into the set asanas used in hatha yoga. Kriya yoga as a discipline can refer to a number of different yogic schools, most famously that of Paramahansa Yogananda, some forms of yoga used in Tibetan Buddhism, and the Satyananda Yoga of Swami Satyananda.

Kriya massage relies on a deep attunement between the practitioner and the energy of the patient. By touching the patient, the practitioner connects to their energy flow and is directed by that flow how to best heal them and align their energy channels. A high level of sensitivity is necessary for good massage, as the practitioner needs to be able to feel and respond to the nuances of a patient’s particular energetic reality.

The mechanism kriya massage uses to realign the energy of the patient is soft, directional touch. This type of massage involves using various, mostly circular, motions to stimulate the flow of energy and redirect it into its proper channels. Figure eights, small and large circles, and spirals of varying sizes are all commonly used in kriya.

Kriya massage is an incredibly intuitive massage modality, unlike other forms of massage which focus on musculature, or prescribed series of actions to achieve a desired result. The practitioner is understood to have a deep connection to the needs of the patient, which allows them to intuitively make the necessary motions to best help the person unlock their energetic blockage.

Kriya massage is sometimes called a bodywork dance because of the beautiful and fluid motions the practitioner takes while healing. Each kriya practitioner has their own distinct style, and many people liken kriya to a sort of art form, with the practitioner’s personality being expressed in the range and form of their motions.

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