Raja Yoga, also known as Royal Yoga or Classical Yoga, is one of the six major paths or branches of yoga, as outlined by the ancient sage Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras. Raja Yoga primarily focuses on the mind and its control. It aims to attain self-realization and union with the divine through the practice of meditation and mental discipline.
The term “Raja” means “royal” or “kingly” in Sanskrit, suggesting that this path is considered the highest and most comprehensive form of yoga. It is often referred to as the “king of yogas” due to its emphasis on controlling the mind, which is considered the ultimate instrument for spiritual growth.
Raja Yoga consists of eight limbs, known as Ashtanga (eight-limbed) Yoga. These limbs provide a systematic approach to achieving self-mastery and spiritual enlightenment. The eight limbs are as follows:
1. Yama: Ethical principles and moral disciplines, including non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, sexual restraint, and non-possessiveness.
2. Niyama: Personal observances and practices, such as cleanliness, contentment, self-discipline, self-study, and surrender to a higher power.
3. Asana: Physical postures that prepare the body for meditation and promote physical health and well-being.
4. Praṇayama: Breath control techniques that regulate the life force (praṇa) and bring awareness to the breath.
5. Pratyahara: Withdrawal of the senses from external stimuli to direct one’s attention inward.
6. Dharaṇa: Concentration, the practice of focusing the mind on a single object or point of focus.
7. Dhyana: Meditation, a state of sustained focus and awareness without any particular object of focus.
8. Samadhi: Union with the divine, a state of complete absorption and oneness with the object of meditation, leading to spiritual liberation.
Raja Yoga emphasizes the importance of stilling the mind, cultivating inner awareness, and achieving a state of profound meditation. Through the practice of these eight limbs, practitioners seek to transcend the limitations of the mind and experience the highest levels of consciousness and spiritual awakening.