Raja yoga was first described in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and is part of the Samkhya tradition. Raja yoga is also known as ashtanga yoga, "asht" a Sanskrit word for eight and "anga" a Sanskrit word for limbs, because it consists of the following eight principles:
1. Yama : Code of conduct, self-restraint
a. Ahimsa: non violence, non injury
b. Satya: truthfulness
c. Asteya: non stealing
d. Brahmacharya : sexual abstinence unless intentionally procreating
e. Aparigraha: non-covetousness
2. Niyama : Religious observances, commitments to practice, such as study and devotion
a. Saucha: purity (internal and external)
b. Santosha: contentment
c. Tapas: austerity
d. Swadhyaya: study of religious scriptures and texts
e. Ishwara pranidhana: surrender of ego to supreme god.
3. Asana : Integration of mind and body through physical activity. According to Yoga philosophy, there are 8.4 million of them (as are living beings on the Earth) but 84 asanas are considered to be the main postures, of which the highest are Shirshasan (headstand) and Padmasan (lotus).
4. Pranayama : Regulation of breath leading to integration of mind and body Pranayama is made out of two sanskrit words (prana = life energy; yama = control or modification). Breathing is the medium used to achieve this goal. The mind and life force are correlated to the breath. Through regulating the breathing and practicing awareness on it, one learns to control prana.
5. Pratyahara : Abstraction of the senses, withdrawal of the senses from their objects. Pratyahara is bringing the awareness to reside deep within oneself, free from the senses and external world. The Goal of Pratyahara is not to disrupt the communication from the sense organ to the brain. The awareness is far removed from the five senses. Pratyahara cannot be achieved without achievement of the preceding limbs (pranayama, niyama, etc.). The awareness comes to rest deep in the inner space, and during this time the yogi's breath will be temporarily suspended. Pratyahara should not just be likened to concentration or meditation, etc. It is a yogic practice that takes on adequacy with the prior 8 limbs as prerequisites.
6. Dharana : concentration, one-pointedness of mind Real Yoga starts from concentration. Concentration merges into meditation. Meditation ends in Samadhi. Retention of breath, Brahmacharya, Satvic (pure) food, seclusion, silence,Satsanga (being in the company of a guru), and not mixing much with people are all aids to concentration. Concentration on Trikuti (the space between the two eyebrows) with closed eyes is preferred. The mind can thus be easily controlled, as this is the seat for the mind.
7. Dhyana : meditation (quiet activity that leads to samadhi) Meditation is defined as an unbroken flow of thought towards god to the exclusion of sensual perception. Sleeping , tossing of mind, attachment to objects, subtle desires and cravings, laziness, lack of Brahmacharya, gluttony are all obstacles in meditation. Reduce your wants. Cultivate dispassion. Vairagya thins out the mind. The mind passes into many conditions or states as it is made up of three qualities: Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Kshipta (wandering), Vikshipta (gathering), Mudha (ignorant), Ekagra (one-pointed), and Nirodha (contrary) are the five states of the mind.
8. Samadhi : the quiet state of blissful awareness, super conscious state It is sublime, beyond description. Samadhi transcends all sensory and causal (time & space) experiences. It represents the goal of all existence.
Kundalini Yoga: This system describes the technique for gaining mastery over prana by controlling the mind. The kundalni shakti is awakened by purifying nadis (astral tubes) and chakras (energy centers) and by evolving the conscious.
Hatha Yoga: Asanas, kriyas, pranayama, mudras and bandhas are practiced to gain control over body, prana and mind.
Mantra Yoga: Emphasizes on the use of mantras (structured sounds) to control the mind.
Yantra Yoga: Uses geometrical shapes and forms to control energy for meditation. Nada Yoga: Uses music and sounds.
Laya Yoga: Focuses on inner sounds and light.
Q 1. What are the eight limbs of Raja yoga?
Q 2. Explain the five Yamas and Niyamas.