Kriya Yoga Unites People of Many Faiths Technique Based in Hinduism Brings Practitioners Closer to Their Own God

Article excerpt

Byline: Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah Daily Herald Staff Writer

When Judith Hertzing meditates, she reaches out to Christ, using a yoga technique taught by Hindu swamis.

But, be clear, there is no confusion about where her beliefs are. The 58-year-old Naperville woman uses yoga to enhance her Christian spirituality.

"I'm not a Catholic practicing Hinduism," she said. "I'm a Catholic practicing meditation that brings me closer to God."

The technique, called Kriya Yoga, has roots in Hinduism, but calls itself a nonsectarian, scientific practice, appealing to all religions. Kriya means the work done through the inner soul, and yoga means unity with God.

Hertzing performs it to relieve stress and pray to God.

She first heard of Kriya Yoga through an acquaintance who practiced it. But before Hertzing was initiated into the program during a special ceremony, she made sure to get the OK from two local priests.

"I wanted to be sure it was something that was good," she said. "They both said I just had to remember my intentions while doing it, and my intentions were to honor God, honor myself and relieve stress."

Hertzing isn't the only Christian member of Chicago's only Kriya Yoga Center in Oak Brook. Because of other non-Hindu yoga practitioners, called yogis, the center has included a picture of Christ along with those of the Hindu god Krishna and Kriya Yoga masters on an altar-like table at the front of the meditation hall.

"A lot of Christians come; it (the picture) makes them feel comfortable," says the center's teacher Durga Chunduri.

With headquarters in Homestead, Fla., there are 30 Kriya Yoga centers in America, 40 in Europe, hundreds in India, and a handful in Australia and South America.

Chunduri runs the Oak Brook yoga center out of her basement, like many other yoga centers around the world.

The Oak Brook center has about 40 members and has taught Kriya Yoga to about 150 people in the Chicago area.

Chunduri was chosen as the teacher of the Chicago area center by the 91-year-old living master of Kriya Yoga, Paramahamsa Hariharananda.

He is the only living member of the group that has attained what is called the pulseless, breathless state, "nirvikalpa smadhi. …