Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Raja Yoga

Raja Yoga Path of 

The "royal" or highest path of yoga, formalized by the sage Patanjali, is a comprehensive method for controlling the waves of thought by turning our mental and physical energy into spiritual energy. The chief practice is self-discipline, including Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga & Meditation.


Developing Consciousness,

Awareness, Mindfulness is Raja

Yoga, and the aim of Hatha Yoga.

a) Who developed Raja Yoga?

Raja Yoga is often referred to as “classical yoga” as it was the oldest system of yoga to by systematically developed into a unified practice. The practice of Raja Yoga was compiled by the sage Patanjali in his famous Yoga Sutras during the second century CE.

b) Benefits of Raja yoga?
  • It improves concentration and increases clarity.
  • A broad sense of self-worth is developed.
  • You find purpose in life and work towards it.
  • You feel content and stable.
  • Raja Yoga meditation gives you peace of mind and relaxes your body.
  • It helps you develop a positive attitude and respond better to situations.
  • This meditation helps develop positive relationships.

c) What are the Eight limbs of Raja Yoga?

1) Yamas

Ethical standards relating to the Golden Rule of “Do unto others as would have them do unto you.

The five Yamas are:-
  • Ahimsa: nonviolence
  • Satya: truthfulness
  • Asteya: non-stealing
  • Brahmacharya: non-excess
  • Aparigraha: non-attachment

2) Niyama

Niyama, the second limb, has to do with self-discipline and spiritual observances. Regularly attending temple or church services, saying grace before meals, developing your own personal meditation practices, or making a habit of taking contemplative walks alone are all examples of niyamas in practice.

   The five niyamas are:-
  • Saucha: cleanliness/purity
  • Santosha: contentment
  • Tapas: heat; spiritual austerities
  • Svadhyaya: a study of the sacred scriptures and of one's self
  • Isvara pranidhana: surrender to  God

3) Asana

Asana, the postures practiced in yoga,  comprise the third limb. In the yogic view, the body is a temple of spirit, the care of which is an important stage of our spiritual growth. 

Through the practice of asana, we develop the habit of discipline and the ability to concentrate, both of which are necessary for meditation.

 4) Pranayama: Breath Control

Generally translated as breath control, this fourth stage consists of techniques designed to gain mastery over the respiratory process while recognizing the connection between the breath, the mind, and the emotions. As implied by the literal translation of pranayama, "life force extension," yogis believe that it not only rejuvenates the body but also actually extends life itself. You can practice pranayama as an isolated technique (i.e., simply sitting and performing a number of breathing exercises), or integrate it into your daily hatha yoga routine.

5) Pratyahara: Sensory Transcendence

Pratyahara, the fifth limb, means withdrawal of senses, or sensory transcendence. It is during this stage that we make the conscious effort to draw our awareness away from the external world and outside stimuli. 

Keenly aware of, yet cultivating a detachment from, our senses, we direct our attention internally. The practice of pratyahara provides us with an opportunity to step back and take a look at ourselves. 

This withdrawal allows us to objectively observe our cravings; 
habits that are perhaps detrimental to our health and likely interfere with our inner growth.

 6Dharana: Concentration

As each stage prepares us for, the next practice of pratyahara creates the setting for Dharana or concentration. Having relieved ourselves of outside distractions, we can now deal with the distractions of the mind itself. No easy task! In the practice of concentration, which precedes meditation, we learn how to slow down the thinking process by concentrating on a single mental object a specific energetic center in the body, an image of a deity, or the silent repetition of a sound. We, of course, have already begun to develop our powers of concentration in the previous three stages of posture, breath control, and withdrawal of the senses. 

In asana and pranayama, although we pay attention to our actions, our attention travels. 
Our focus constantly shifts as we fine-tune the many nuances of any particular posture or breathing technique. In pratyahara we become self-observant; now, in Dharana, we focus our attention on a single point. Extended periods of concentration naturally lead to meditation.

 7) Dhyana: Single-Pointed Concentration/ Flow

Meditation or contemplation, the seventh stage of ashtanga, is the uninterrupted flow of
concentration. Although concentration (Dharana) and meditation (dhyana) may appear to be one and the same, a fine line of distinction exists between these two stages. Where Dharana practices one-pointed attention, dhyana is ultimately a state of being keenly aware without focus.

At this stage, the mind has been quieted, and in the stillness, it produces few or thoughts at all. 

The strength and stamina it takes to reach this state of stillness are quite impressive. But don't give up. While this may seem difficult if a not impossible task, remember that yoga is a process. Even though we may not attain the "picture perfect" pose or the ideal state of consciousness, we benefit at every stage of our progress. 

8) Samadhi: Total Absorption

Patanjali describes this eighth and final stage of ashtanga, samadhi, as a state of ecstasy. At this stage, the meditator merges with his or her point of focus and transcends the Self
altogether. The meditator comes to realize a profound connection to the Divine, an 

interconnectedness with all living things. With this realization comes the "peace that passeth all understanding"; the experience of bliss and being at one with the Universe. On the surface, this may seem to be a rather lofty, "holier than thou" kind of goal. However, if we pause to examine what we really want to get out of life, would not joy, fulfillment, and freedom somehow find their way onto our list of hopes, wishes, and desires? What Patanjali has described as the completion of the yogic path is what, deep down, all human beings aspire to peace. We also might give some thought to the fact that this ultimate stage of yoga enlightenment can neither be bought nor possessed. It can only be experienced, the 
price of which is the continual devotion of the aspirant.

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