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Raja Yoga – A Spiritual Practice

Raja Yoga – A Spiritual Practice

Raja Yoga

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The modern-day lifestyle doesn’t give us enough time to experience inner powers and moments of silence. Life seems to be moving very fast and we feel stressed out in many different ways. There is a continuous flow of disturbing thoughts and emotions. You are unable to pacify this wandering mind.

Certain methods are needed to discipline the mind in specific ways. Raja Yoga is a master meditation practice that controls the chaotic thoughts, poor perception, and imbalanced emotions.

Raja Yoga Definition

Raja yoga is a process that teaches the union of Atman (Soul) and Mind (Manas). Your soul becomes one withthe powers of the mind and moves to a higher level of intuitive wisdom.

As the name suggests, ‘Raja Yoga’ means the king or master of all yoga philosophy. It is a royal meditation process that controls your unruly mind and improves concentration and memory.

This yoga practice is an old art that can easily be mastered with patience. Raja Yoga explores the “self”. It controls the body, your faulty perceptions, and beliefs. You can nurture pure thoughts and feelings.

Once, your thoughts are well guided, the mind ceases to be restless. You can identify your higher self. In most cases, your awareness of these erratic thoughts and unhealthy emotions go unnoticed. 

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As you are used to this irrational thought pattern, you have never made any conscious attempt to observe and control your mind. This undisciplined mind is the source of all problems that you experience.

Raja yoga is a transformative process that follows definite steps. Its reference is found in old Sanskrit texts.  In the 19th century, Swami Vivekananda first considered Raja Yoga as a royal practice of mindfulness. The concept of Raja yoga was already specified in Bhagavad Gita and the Yoga sutras of Patanjali.

Raja Yoga is also known as Ashtanga yoga. It signifies the eightfold path of meditation necessary to reach the stage of Samadhi or enlightenment.

In Hindu scriptures, raja yoga is considered as an ultimate state of blissfulness. As the mind is undisturbed, you can experience inner calm and happiness. You can achieve the path of spiritual ascension.

Raja Yoga - A Spiritual Practice
Raja Yoga – A Spiritual Practice

8 Key Elements of Raja Yoga

Raja Yoga is also called Ashtanga Yoga. It is an easy form of meditation technique. It disciplines the mind to experience the goodness of the soul.

The yoga follows eight limbs, thus it is called Ashtanga Yoga by Sage Patanjali.

The Eight limbs are as follows

  • Yama – Self-control and righteous living.
  • Niyama – Discipline and moral values.
  • Asana – Bodily postures for physical exercises.
  • Pranayama – Breathing exercises.
  • Pratyahara – Retreat of senses.
  • Dharana – Concentration, and focus.
  • Dhyana – Mindfulness.
  • Samadhi – Surrender to the divine powers of the divine.

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Now, let us study these aspects in detail.

1. Yama

It is the first of the eight limbs of yoga. Yama means the restraints that one needs to go through for an honest living. One should aim to avoid the five Yamas to lead a purposeful living. The Yama is the not-to-do list that you should follow for spiritual growth. There are 5 Yamas. They are

1. Ahimsa

It means no violence or a state of harmlessness. You must not show harm or pain to any living being or creature. It also teaches you to speak good words and harbor good thoughts for others.

2. Satya

Means truthfulness and honesty. You should speak the truth and do the right deeds.

3. Asteya

You should never take things that belong to others. It means non-stealing. Stealing includes taking of material objects, robbing someone from getting the right opportunities, and mental exploitation.

4. Brahmacharya

It means self-control and self-regulation of your sexual energies. You are supposed to live the life of a Brahmin, without having any physical desires. You should avoid sexual pleasures. It is time to build your Positive personality traits and moral values.

5. Aparigraha

It refers to the non-accumulation of material possessions that are the root cause of all human miseries. Let go of things that are not important. It gives freedom of soul and enrichment of the mind.

2. Niyama

These are rules or ethical paths of spiritual growth. They are recommended for healthy living. It is the ‘to do’ list that one should observe in daily living. You should practice and embrace pure thoughts.

Practice pure and perfect deeds for the well being of all. Be Happy with what you have rather than wanting more material possessions. There are 5 Niyama that one should follow in Yoga practice. They are

1. Shauca

It means the purity of thoughts and actions. You should practice inner cleanliness to evolve as a spiritual being. For this, it is necessary to come in contact with positive people who emanate a positive outlook towards life.

2. Santosh

Happiness and contentment lead to inner satisfaction.

3. Tapa

Self-discipline and not to give up in times of distress. It teaches goal attainment and success through hard work and patience.

4. Svadhyaya

It means the study of ‘self’. Do you know who you are? And what is your purpose in life? The term emphasizes on self-inquiry and encourages studying Vedic texts, Upanishads for enhancement of knowledge. As this Niyama teaches self-understanding, you become non-reactive to situations.

5. Ishwara Pranidhana

It refers to complete trust and faith in the divine powers. You need to surrender to this power, to achieve everlasting happiness.

3. Asana

The third limb of Yoga practice is known as Asana. It includes physical postures and exercises that one does during yoga. Asana improves body tone and flexibility of the muscles. It also develops body strength and balance. The different poses and postures are an integral part of Raja Yoga sessions.

4. Pranayama

The fourth limb deals with breathing exercises and voluntary control of breath. Pranayama means rejuvenating the life force or prana, by inhalation of fresh air. It purifies the blood and improves physical vitality. Raja Yogis practice pranayama to achieve control of the mind and senses.

5. Pratyahara

The fifth limb of Raja Yoga signifies the withdrawal of senses. It turns your sensory inputs into an inner world of divine consciousness. The conscious retreat of energy from the object of sensory input to an inner realm is what Pratyahara is all about. 

It is a state of non-reaction to sensory stimulations. It is an experience of inner bliss and silence. With eyes closed, your body is relaxed and senses are controlled.

6. Dharana

It means focus and concentration to achieve meditation. You focus on thoughts and feelings on one object. You can master Dharana, only when you have focused on a single object for a long time. This stage minimizes distractions and improves your attentive powers.

7. Dhyana

It means meditation and mindfulness. A quiet mind and a relaxed body are meant to be in dhyana. Your ego and intellect cease to exist. In this stage, there is no imagination. Thoughts are pure and you do not harbor any feelings. It is a stage of complete surrender to the inner ‘self’.

8. Samadhi

It is the eighth limb of yoga practice, where you unite with the divine powers of the universe. You become one with God and attain a state of salvation. Worldly desires and temptations no longer attract you. 

Your expanse is widened and you feel eternal bliss, happiness, and liberation. It is said that when a raja yogi attains Samadhi, he can see a radiant light that is super powerful. It is the highest form of spiritual awakening.

The Purpose of Raja Yoga

The word Raja means king. This yoga form teaches self-mastery of your intuitions and thoughts. You feel empowered to gain wisdom and move towards the glory of awakening.

The purpose of Raja Yoga is to help you realize the goodness and strength of the soul. It is the highest form of mind training that controls your irrational thoughts, false beliefs, and feelings. 

This meditation practice helps to control mental fluctuations and improves the power of concentration.

The goal of yoga is to unite you to an inner world of absolute bliss and harmony. The mind is gradually and systematically brought to a focal point of intense attentiveness.

Raja Yoga puts emphasis on the harmonious development of body, mind, and spirits. Mental discipline and habitual practices of yoga enhance the overall well being of the individual.

Benefits of Raja Yoga

Your unstable mind can create mayhem in your everyday life. Mood swings and temperamental dysfunction can create problems beyond the solution. You may feel emotionally overwhelmed. So, the only way out of this mental unrest and disturbance is by practicing Raja Yoga. There are various benefits of this yoga technique. They are as follows

  1. Raja Yoga helps to attain happiness and peace of mind.
  2. It relaxes the muscles and reliefs the mind from emotional problems.
  3. You can control your irrational thoughts and negative feelings.
  4. It helps to develop a positive attitude. You are in better control of your responses toward people and situations.
  5. The power of concentration is greatly improved by practicing Raja Yoga.
  6. You can realize your true purpose in life.
  7. Happiness and contentment become your strength.
  8. It improves your self-worth.
  9. Raja yoga elevated your mood and emotional well being.
  10. It reduces anxiety and other stress-related responses.
  11. You can develop good and healthy interpersonal relationships.
  12. Your mind becomes focused and clear with a great memory.
  13. It teaches positive values like love, empathy, peace, and knowledge.
  14. You have freedom from fear and anger over trivial issues.
  15. It increases rational thinking and the power to judge situations fairly.
  16. You have better tolerance for people and things around you, as you have learned to be patient and peaceful.

Raja Yoga Meditation

Raja Yoga meditation is a popular yoga form practiced by the power of the human mind to control our thoughts and senses. It is a deep connection within where one experiences divine points of energy and self-empowerment. 

It is a wonderful process of transformation that gives freedom from vices and makes you virtuous. You can realize your true potentials and experience peace, love, happiness, purity, and absolute bliss. Raja yoga meditation is a master yoga technique that helps in self-understanding and self-discovery.

5 Steps To Practice Raja Yoga Meditation

Raja yoga meditation is all about quiet reflection. Thus, daily life situations should not affect them in any way. You need to be in a state of calm and absolute silence to practice yoga. Raja yoga meditation starts with Hatha yoga Asana. These are simple free hand body postures such as mudras, pranayama, and Kriya yoga. These practices improve flexibility, physical strength, and overall immunity.

There are a few steps to practice this yoga technique. They are as follows:

1. A calm and quiet corner

Find a peaceful place to sit and relax. It is better to do yoga early in the morning, as this time of the day is quiet and without much noise. 

A quiet place helps you to focus and concentrate on your inner realm of consciousness. Just relax and clear your mind from various thoughts.

Try to think of the good things happening around you. With open eyes, embrace nature and delve into its endless beauty. Help yourself to be comfortable.

2. Comfortable sitting position

You can sit on a yoga mat placed on a floor. Even a chair can be used for meditation purposes. In comfortable sitting, your posture should be straight and stable. 

If you sit on the floor, the lotus position is the best way to do meditation. Keep your back straight and shoulders down. You can place your palm on the knees.

3. Be present in your moments

This is the most important step in yoga practice. You should stay focused on your present moments. Your mind will be filled with racing thoughts all the time. 

Do not avoid these distracting thoughts. Accept it and let it pass through. Then you again ‘be present’ in your moments. Get back to your focus of concentration, even if you get distracted.

4. The phase of realization

In this phase, you are aware of your thoughts and feelings. As you concentrate and delve deep within you, think positively about yourself. Harbor good feelings about others. At heart, forgive those who might have done anything wrong to you. 

When you realize your internal thought processes, you can reflect deeply on yourself. You experience a profound meaning in life. Realization of love, pure light, divine knowledge all occurs in this step of raja yoga.

5. Meditation and peaceful experience

The fifth stage of yoga is to meditate and experience ultimate joy and peace. Positive thoughts and feelings bring in a state of peace that you can carry throughout your day. 

Practice this yoga form for 10 to 20 minutes a day. Later, increase the time depending on your convenience. Keep on practicing and see its positive benefits on your overall health and well being.

The link is given below the ways to practice Raja Yoga at home

10 Tips On Practicing Raja Yoga At Home

Practicing yoga is not that difficult as you may think. It keeps your mind calm and fresh. It gives you proper body tone and fitness. You can practice yoga from the comfort of your home. The following tips helpful may be helpful for you.

  1. Thorough research about the types of Asana and their benefits needs to be done. Decide on your requirements and learn the correct methods of doing it.
  2. Try to practice yoga in open spaces, so that you get fresh air. Ensure you wear comfortable clothes. You should avoid eating anything before doing yoga Asana.
  3. Find a comfortable space and a soothing environment for practicing yoga.
  4. Practice regularly. You should not be irregular in your approach. If you do things irregularly, it will not be beneficial for you.
  5. Switch off any distractions that may happen during the process. Avoid talking to people. Keep mobile away to avoid distractions.
  6. Practice basic yoga postures first, if you are a beginner.
  7. Always do warm-up exercises before starting yoga Asana.
  8. Breathing exercises should be done correctly to avail maximum benefits.
  9. Go slow in your approach. Do not overdo anything. Give sufficient time to yourself so that your body can get adjusted to the practice.
  10. In the end, it always cools down and relaxes. This ensures you are unwinding. It restores your blood circulation to normal levels.

Closing Thoughts

The royal path of yoga teaches the raja yogi the path of self-discipline. This meditation is easy to practice in your daily lives. A person becomes independent and fearless in his behavior and actions. 

Positive qualities are nurtured and the yogi attains peace and happiness. Raja yoga helps the union of the soul to the higher realm of spiritual consciousness.