Sahaja Yoga is a movement, sometimes considered a religion or a cult, founded in 1970 by Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi (1923 – 2011). The word ‘Sahaja’ in Sanskrit has two parts: ‘Saha’ means ‘with’ and ‘ja’ means ‘born’, meaning that the Kundalini Energy is born within us and can be awakened spontaneously, without effort.
Meditation is one of the main rituals in Sahaja Yoga, and it is said that this modality is different from other forms of Yoga in the sense that it doesn’t require Asanas (Yoga postures), complicated techniques and a long time to reach Self-Realization. In fact, the awakening of Kundalini Energy and consequent Self-Realization are said to happen effortlessly when beginning to practice Sahaja Yoga, and anyone regardless of age or physical condition can practice.
This so called spontaneous awakening is believed to be made possible by the presence of Nirmala Srivastava herself, or even just her photo. Shri Mataji claimed that she was a divine incarnation, the Adi Shakti (Holy Spirit) of the Hindu tradition, the great Mother Goddess who had come to save humanity, and from 1970 to 2003 traveled the world giving en-masse Self-realization, without charge.
As said, the goal of Sahaja Yoga meditation is Self-Realization through Kundalini Awakening. As such, the study of Chakras and Nadis, as well as listening to lectures given by Shri Mataji are also part of a typical meditation session.
It’s said that while meditating you can (literally) feel divine vibrations on your hands — that would be the energy moving through your body — as well as a cool breeze on the top of your hands and head. The meditation ritual also consists of placing your hands on different parts of your body and repeating sentences/questions as if talking to the Kundalini Energy within you.
The teachings, practices, and beliefs of Sahaja Yoga are mostly Hindu-based, with elements from mystical traditions and local customs of India as well. As Shri Mataji’s mother was Christian, we also see important influences of Christian origin, such as the battle between good and evil.
The practice of Sahaja Yoga and the achievement of Self-Realization is said to bring many benefits, not only spiritual but also physical and emotional, such as: improvement in self-esteem, self-awareness, and emotional intelligence; relieve of anxiety and stress relief in general; improvement of the ability to cope with difficult events; aid to eradicate bad habits (including addictions); among others.