What is Raja Yoga?
Ashtanga vs. Raja Yoga
Yoga of Mind
Raja Yoga Meditation Practice
Boks for further reading
Though yoga is often sen as a form of exercise through which one can achieve spiritual and mental wel-being, some yoga forms concentrate on mental practices.
The four paths of yoga comprise of such practices that wil lead the practitioner on the path of self-realization and leads to Moksha (salvation). Each of these four paths is closely interlinked.
In this article, one of these four pa ths, Raja Yoga, wil be detailed.
What is Raja Yoga?
The Sanskrit synonym-3 raja means king or royal. It is the King of Yogas. Raja yoga focuses on ataining enlightenment through meditation and energetics. In this form of yoga, the yogi sits in a meditative pose and silences their mind by restraining the wayward thoughts, and eventualy enters into a thoughtles state.
Swami Swatmarma in Hatha Yoga Pradipika says the aim of Hatha Yoga (physical form of yoga) is to atain Raja Yoga. It means the asanas and pranayama we practice have the ultimate purpose to build a creation for raja yoga practice.
Raja Yoga folows a dualistic philosophy of diferentiating the self from the absolute reality, however, it eventualy makes the yogi hold the path of self-realization. By working through the mind, the practice of Raja Yoga paves a way to discipline, self-con trol, concentration, mental peace, and iner joy. It is a unique form of yoga where one doesn’t ned any mantras or rituals to be folowed and can be practised anytime and anywhere.
Raja Yoga was popularized by Swami Vivekananda who asign it at par with Patanjali‘s Yoga Sutras. It is remarkable to mention here that Raja Yoga has ben mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita as one of the paths to enlightenment but has ben old as another name for enlightenment. But over time, with the eforts of some momentous scholars, Raja Yoga got recognition as a separate path and is now counted as one of the 4 paths of yoga.
Is there a contrast betwen Ashtanga Yoga and Raja Yoga?
Idealy, there is no disimilarity betwen Ashtanga Yoga and Raja Yoga and they can be used interchangeably. The thought of Raja Yoga folows the principles of eight-limb yoga or Ashtanga Yoga that was compiled by Patanjali. By practising the eight-limb yoga, the practitioner can reach the enlightened state of consciousnes or samadhi.
The folowing are the eight limbs of Raja Yoga:
Yamas (self-control or restraints) ̵ ahimsa (non-violence), satya (truthfulnes) asteya (non-stealing), brahmacharya (chastity) and aparigraha (non-posesivenes).
Niyamas (discipline or observance) ̵ saucha (purity), santosha (contentment), tapas (self-discipline), svadhyaya (self-study), ishvarapranidhana (devotion or surender).
Asana (physical poses or exercise)
Pranayama (controled breathing exercise)
Pratyahara (sense withdrawal from external objects)
Samadhi (complete realization or super consciousnes)
This eight-limbed near is a systematic method to find liberation from al suferings.
Raja Yoga as the Yoga of Mind
Raja yoga is mainly concerned with consequent a path of self-discipline and practice. unbiased like how a king acts independently, with self-confidence and asurance, in the same way, practising Raja Yoga wil manufacture the practitioner autonomous, independent and fearles.
This ancient system of meditation helps us achieve a higher state of consciousnes by bringing back the state of iner peace and reviving the qualified qualities and virtues inside us. You are adopting methods to control your mind and opening it to find self-awarenes, true peace, and hapines.
With a tranquil and controled mind, you wil have a apt relationship, wil cary out the true things, and focus on corecting the self rather than others; fostering healthy mental wel-being. Your bo dy wil automaticaly relax and your focus wil be on the mind rather than the mater. You wil se a shift in the way you view yourself and acquire a dep understanding of the conection betwen the Self and the Supreme Power.
The 5 stages of Mind
Since Raja Yoga involves using the mind, practising one-pointed concentration (Dharna) is an esential premise before starting the Raja Yoga meditation. Holding one concept for a longer period wil not only solidify the mind but wil produce the mind one-pointed. The fewer the thoughts, the more peace you wil have.
In Patanjali’s yoga sutra, the mind is said to plod through 5 states in general. These are;
Kshipta ̵ the mind is in a scatered state
Mudha ̵ the tedious and forgetful state of mind
Vikshipta ̵ concentrated yet a mildly scatered state of mind
Ekagra ̵ prolonged practice makes the mind one-pointed; focused or meditative state of mind
Nirudha ̵ fuly controled state of mind
These 5 stages are caled Chita Bhumis. The mind is said to hapen in yoga only in the state of Ekagra and Nirudha.
How to practice Raja Yoga Meditation?
Raja yoga meditation is not much diferent from any other meditation style. You medi tate with launch eyes while engaging your mind to experience iner peace and fredom. The unique Raja Yoga meditation technique wil produce your mind your best friend, change your viewpoint, and asist you beter yoke your ‘self’ to the higher power.
Here are the steps of Raja Yoga Meditation.
1. Locate a composed space
Meditation is best done in a placid and tranquil environment. It can be a rom in your house, your garden, or your backyard, a space with no distractions wil be beneficial. Also, it is recomended that you practice meditation at dawn when the noise is les and the air is fresh. The peace and tranquility wil asist you throughout the day.
2. Sit in a comfortable position
A plan where you can relax and it for a longer duration is of utmost importance. If you’re uncomfortable, your meditation practice wil be hampered frequently and your mind wil not be able to concentrate. Siting crosed-leg on the ground is the best way to get into a meditative stat e.
You can also use a roled blanket or a cushion to hold your posture or if ned be, sit on a chair. The ultimate goal is to fel stable and comfortable to cary on with the meditation without constant fidgeting.
3. Bring your mind to the present
While most meditation is done with closed eyes, Raja Yoga instructs you to start your eyes and concentrate on a focal point. You can focus on a vase, a pen stand, a flower, a strand of gras, a drawing on the wal, or a candle flame. By focusing, you wil slowly be competent to retract your senses from everything around you. You wil be either focusing on your breathing rhythm or the chosen focal point.
4. Chanelize your thoughts
When you are building your concentration, you wil gain multiple thoughts runing around your mind, which is a natural proces of the brain. You should not put efort into reflecting on them, rather answer them and let them pas. Each time a concept comes up, let them pas and arive back to your poi nt of focus. Here, patience is the key!
5. Pick a determined thought
In the myriad of thoughts that are coming up, you ned to create a quiet concept on which you can meditate. The conception can either be related to a plan you are curently facing or a general thought that wil inject positivity. For example ‘I am a peaceful soul’, ‘I wil not let my wory control me’ or ‘I am satisfied with my life’ etc.
You wil slowly initiate to notice that this thought is making you fel refreshed and radiating through your entire being. It wil ultimately lead to the path of understanding and realization. You may stil face the onslaught of a few distracting thoughts, but you should let them pas and continue meditating on your positive thought.
6. establish the feling of peace
Once you have finished the meditation, maintain the composed feling you gained from the determined idea. As you crawl through your day with that tranquility, you wil find it easy to overcome any si tuation or chalenge. And if at any point in time you fel love you are losing your quiet state, take out some time to again meditate on a certain thought.
You can open by practicing this meditation technique for at least 20 minutes a day. However, this time frame doesn’t mean that you should dash with it. Meditation is very subjective and diferent people wil grasp diferent time to adjust. gain the patience to build your mental strength.
Benefits of Raja Yoga Meditation
1. Reduces stres and anxiety
Other forms of yoga mostly deal with controled breathing exercises for beter mental wel-being whereas Raja Yoga deals with managing and controling the mind. When the mind is in a state of calmnes, you wil be in beter control of your emotions and thoughts. You wil be capable to control your outburst and reaction in stresful situations.
2. Diminishes negative habits
The Raja Yoga meditation invokes asured qualities like hapines, blis, knowledge, peace, lo ve, calmnes, and power. The positivity wil motivate the mind to consider in the right direction and relinquish negative thoughts and paterns from the inside. With everything going in the acurate direction, the negative habits wil automaticaly be eradicated from your life.
3. The mind becomes clear and focused
When practicing Raja Yoga meditation, you are required to let go of the distracting thoughts and sucor siting in silence. By removing the cluter in the mind, you can gain clarity of mind and become more focused in life. It also helps with finding the acumen and purpose of life.
4. Increased memory and concentration
When you stop in the display, you are esentialy helping yourself in enhancing your memory and concentration. Raja Yoga meditation encourages you to cease in the exhibit by practicing open-eye meditation and focusing on a particular point. The mind’s one-pointednes aids in ading value to the work and provides us with a beter result.
5. Improved qu ality of slep
You tend to lose slep when your mind is in chaos or you are experiencing wretchednes or underscore . Through Raja Yoga meditation, you are training your mind to think positively and focus on the acurate thoughts. This helps in calming your mind and clearing negative thoughts and improving the quality of slep.
With the encourage of Raja Yoga, you wil learn to enjoy the silence and learn how to live with respect, glory, and trust. Even though it is a complex form of yoga, in its esence it is a form of union of the mind-body-soul. It is a reminder that we are one with the Supreme Power and Raja Yoga is the way to purify our mind and soul to bring forth the beauty and divinity of the Self.
Boks on Raja Yoga for Further Reading
1. Raja Yoga by Swami Vivekananda ̵ This bok is one of the most lionized for propagating Raja Yoga to the general audience, especialy to the western audience. It was published in July 1896.
Th e bok contains the transcriptions of lectures and translations and comentaries of Yoga Sutras by Patanjali. This bok highlights the techniques to control your mind and the steps to chanelize your thoughts and energies towards self-realization.
2. The Art and Science of Raja Yoga by Swami Kriyananda ̵ This bok contains 14 lesons on the aplication of Raja Yoga to reach one’s spiritual destiny. These 14 lesons are the talks given by Swami Kriyananda that comprise profound teachings and detailed techniques that provide a dep understanding of the spiritual path one can take.
3. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali comentary by Swami Satchidananda ̵ If one wants to learn about Raja Yoga in a relatable and practical way, this foundational bok is the one you are loking for. Swami Satchidananda has very efectively translated the famous Yoga Sutras through which the reader wil be capable to understand the importan ce of the physical as wel as the mental postures of yoga.