Jul 19, 2021
Raja Yoga Quote: “In the beginning of your Sadhana, you will encounter various difficulties. You will not be conscious of any spiritual progress, but you will be conscious of your failures in your attempts in meditation, the resistance you meet, your defects and weaknesses.” – Swami Sivananda in “Sivananda Upanishad”
Raja Yoga is the path of systematic analysis and control of the mind. Compiled by Patanjali Maharishi, Raja Yoga is also known as Ashtanga Yoga, because its practices can be divided into eight limbs. Hatha Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, and Mantra Yoga are all parts of Raja Yoga. The goal is to control the chitta vrittis, or thought waves, and thus attain the super-conscious state of mind, the final goal. Ashtanga Yoga – The eight limbs #1 Yamas – the restrictions Ahimsa – non violence, non injury. Vegetarianism is part of the practice of ahimsa. The great Indian saint Gandhi is famous for the practice of ahimsa Satya: truthfulness, not telling lies. Brahmacharya: chastity, sublimation of sexual energy. Asteya: non-stealing, non covetousness, lack of jealousy. Aparigraha: non-accepting of gifts or bribes. #2 Niyamas – the observances Saucha: purity (external and internal). Santosha: contentment. Tapas: austerity. Swadhyaya: study of religious scripture. Ishwara Pranidhana: worship of the Lord, surrender of the ego. #3 Asana – steady pose For spiritual pursuit, as for any other pursuit in life, a healthy and strong system is essential. A steady mind presupposes a steady body. #4 Pranayama Control of the vital energy #5 Pratyahara withdrawal of the senses from objects #6 Dharana Concentrating the mind upon either an external object or an internal idea, to the exclusion of all other thoughts. #7 Dhyana Meditation is defined as an unbroken flow of thought towards God to the exclusion of other sensual perception. #8 Samadhi super-conscious state Note that the Yamas and Niyamas constitute the ethical foundation of the Yoga practice, straighten out the mind, and help reduce agitations and restlessness. Asana, Pranayama and Pratyahara are external practices, while Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi are considered advanced internal practices. Even though there is an idea of progression in the practices, one doesn’t have to wait for ethical perfection before attempting concentration and meditation. In fact all the stages are involved together. For example, one cannot meditate if one doesn’t have good posture and possess a certain calmness of breath, thus achieving an inner focus at the exclusion of everything else.