THE ROYAL PATH OF YOGA : RAJAYOGA
Today we are living a world where science and technology
play a vital role in our life. Knowledge in different fields, such as Art, Science, Commerce, Music, Painting, Technology Medicine, Law, Engineering work to make our life more comfortable and convenient.
In the same way, different types of yoga can help manage our health at different levels.
There are different branches of Yoga, which work at different levels of our personality and which work collectively for our holistic growth. They are Raja Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma yoga and Jnana (gyan) yoga.
The regular practice of these four Yoga; helps sustain humanity against all odds
A few years ago U.N.O. defined Health as Moral, Physical, Mental and Spiritual Wellbeing With this definition, they were endorsing Ashtanga Yoga, the eightfold path of Raja Yoga.
Thus the authenticity of the ancient scriptures on Raja yoga by Maharshi Patanjali, known as yoga sutra is established
It compiles196 verses, detailing the journey of an individual to attain the higher state of awareness to experience the self.
Review of literature
Patanjali yoga sutra is well-known in the literature on Raja yoga, where Raja yoga is fully explained and detailed for benefit of mankind.
In Bhagwad Gita, Lord Krishna explains Raja Yoga to distressed Arjuna on the battlefield of Mahabharata
Swami Vivekananda also details in his Rajayoga book for the royal path of mankind.
In Yoga darshan book, Bihar school of yoga, Paramhamsa Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati our beloved Guru details the eight limbs of yoga:
The first four; Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama is also known as Bahiranga Yoga help us to understand gross nature of mind, body and prana in connection with social and moral values.. Whereas pratyahara dharna, dhyana and samadhi are known as Antaranga yoga for sublimation and contemplation with the self.
EIGHT LIMBS OF RAJA YOGA
Raja Yoga has been divided into two groups of four limbs each. Out of these, the first four stages (Yama, Niyama, Asana and Pranayama) are known as the external or bahiranga yoga as they bring transformation in the external personality and behaviour and finally our action which are related in our day to day interactions the world. The last four stages (Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi) constitute the antaranga yoga, eight limbs of yoga ,the inner yoga which works with the mind and makes one experience the full mind from the initial state of sensory withdrawal to the state of Samadhi, which is unity of all the faculties of the mind. It is a mental process of observation, analysis, reflection, contemplation, meditation and achievement. These last four stages stop the input of further impressions or vrittis into the field of consciousness.
Compiled by the Sage Patanjali Maharishi in the Yoga Sutras, the Eight Limbs are a progressive series of steps or disciplines which purify the body and mind, ultimately leading the yogi to enlightenment. The Eight limbs are:
The first aspect of Raja yoga is Yama, translated as the moral mode of conduct by the layman but actually meaning yogic self-control. There are five Yamas or external disciplines:
• Ahimsa or non-violence: Ahimsa refers to the act of eliminating violence from our actions as well as thoughts. This violence is expressed in one’s interaction with other people and also with oneself in the form of an emotion, thought, desire, feeling and ambition.
• Satya or truthfulness: Satya does not refer only to what one speaks, but also the awareness of the correct, the right that is being manifested from within and the ability to express it. When one is able to observe the true manifestation of a vritti, thought, desire, or the influence of some external situation on our life, without it being affected by the agencies of our intellect, then that truthful state of mind represents the purity and harmony of our inner expressions and experiences.
• Brahmacharya or moderation in all things (control of all senses). Also refers to celibacy: The word Brahma means ‘the higher reality’ and achara means ‘the follower of’. Thus Brahmacharya means one who is established in higher consciousness.
• Asteya or non-stealing.
Aparigraha or non-covetousness: Aparigraha allows us to perceive the attachments which bind us to rajasic or tamasic states of mind, which do not allow us to see beyond selfish qualities. Thus Aparigraha, or non-attachment, is an effort to rise above all things which hold us down
The yamas are meant to harmonize the social and external interactions in one’s life, whereas the niyamas create a sense of discipline in one’s inner life. The Niyamas or observances (Do’s) are also divided into five and complete the ethical precepts started with the Yama. These qualities are:
• Saucha or cleanliness: Apart from physical and environmental cleanliness, Saucha is also geared to create the feeling of cleanliness within the mind. If one lives in a clean environment, it affects the frame of mind and helps to overcome the different mental conflicts and dissipations. Satvik food, good friends, good thoughts develop internal cleanliness and aide positive attitude.
• Santosha or contentment: Santosha means to be happy with what one has and to maintain a constant state of self-satisfaction and fulfilment.
• Tapas or austerity: Tapas means not to go against natural things available in life and to condition the body. Tapa burns the impurities of the personality according to yoga. Mauna (silence) is a part of tapas.
• Swadhyaya or study of the sacred texts: The word swadhyaya means self-study. It includes the analysis and knowledge of our own personality, awareness of our individual qualities, strengths and weaknesses, in order to know who we are. Without practical application there is no logic in swadhayaya.
Ishwara Pranidhana which is constantly living with an awareness of the divine Presence (surrender to God
Asana is a physical posture in which one is at total ease and in perfect harmony with oneself. It helps in harmonizing different body systems such as the skeletal, muscular, nervous, glandular and digestive. The discipline of the body is as much necessary for the attainment of concentration as that of the mind. If the body is not free from diseases and other disturbing influences, it is very difficult to attain concentration. Hence Yoga lays down elaborate rules for maintaining the health of the body and making it a fit vehicle for concentrated thought. It prescribes many rules for preserving the vital energy, strengthening and purifying the body and the mind. The asanas or postures recommended in it are effective ways by which the body can be kept partially free from disease, and all the limbs, especially the nervous system, can be brought under control and prevented from producing disturbances in the mind.
Pranayama is the regulation or control of the breath. Asanas and Pranayama form the sub-division of Raja Yoga known as Hatha-Yoga. By far the most important thing about good breathing is the Prana, or subtle energy of the vital breath. Control of the Prana leads to control of the mind. Breathing exercises are called Pranayamas, which means to control the Prana.
Scripture has mention only six type of
Six type of pranayama
Most people use only a fraction of their lung capacity for breathing. They breathe shallowly, barely expanding the ribcage. Their shoulders are hunched, they have painful tension in the upper part of the back and neck, and they suffer from lack of oxygen. They should learn the full Yogic breathing.
The Different Types of Breathing
There are three basic types of breathing.
• Clavicular breathing is the most shallow and worst possible type. The shoulders and collarbone are raised while the abdomen is contracted during inhalation. Maximum effort is made, but a minimum amount of air is obtained.
• Thoracic breathing is done with the rib muscles expanding the rib cage, and is the second type of incomplete breathing.
• Deep abdominal breathing is the best, for it brings air to the lowest and largest part of the lungs. Breathing is slow and deep, and proper use is made of the diaphragm.
Actually, none of these types are complete. A full Yogic breath combines all three, beginning with a deep breath and continuing the inhalation through the intercostal and clavicular areas.
Pratyahara consists of withdrawing the senses from their respective external objects and keeping them under the control of the mind. When the senses are effectively controlled by the mind, they follow, not their natural objects, but the mind itself. So in this state, the mind is not disturbed by sights and sounds coming through the eyes and ears, but makes these senses follow itself and see and hear is own object. This state is very difficult, although not impossible, of attainment. It requires a resolute will and long practice to gain mastery over one’s sense.
Dharana means to hold or bind the mind at one point. It is not just a fixation of the mind on something. The yogic tradition describes three different levels of dharana: bahir lakshya (external aim), madhya lakshya (intermediate aim) and antar lakshya (internal aim).
• Bahir Lakshya: In this, the external aspect of dharana, an effort is made to internalize the mind, to fix the mind on one point, to intensify the state of concentration and also to awaken the two nadis, ida and pingala.
• Madhya Lakshya: Madhya Lakshya is the intermediate stage of dharana. In this stage an effort is made to focus the mind on the experience of space. As the consciousness becomes stabilized in subtler perceptions, the practice takes on a new dimension, becoming part of laya yoga, where individual consciousness dissolves in the knowledge of the absolute.
Antar Lakshya : The last stage of dharana is antar lakshya. Here an internal aim has to be aspired for. It is subtle, psychic concentration, holding the mind to an inner experience and having darshan of it, not just imagining it. This stage can be considered as the preliminary state of Dhyana because in this state the awareness and concentration of mind have passed beyond the experiences which arise out of the conscious and subconscious perceptions. One has acknowledged them and entered into another level of dharana where the psychic awareness becomes active.
After Dharana, we come to Dhyana, which is generally termed meditation. This meditative state is attained when one is established in psychic awareness. Dhyana is the steadfast contemplation of the object without any break or disturbance. This has the effect of giving one a clear and distinct representation of the object first by parts and aspects. But by long continued meditation, the mind can develop the partial representation of the object into a full and live presentation of it. Thus dhyana reveals the reality of the contemplated object to the yogi’s mind. When mastered, Dhyana leads to the state of Samadhi.
Samadhi is the super conscious state. In Samadhi non-duality or oneness is experienced. This is the deepest and highest state of consciousness where body and mind have been transcended and the Yogi is one with the Self or God. Samadhi is a progression from one state of higher consciousness to another. The four compartments of Samadhi have been explained in the form of vitarka (reasoning), vichara (reflection), ananda (bliss) and asmita (sense of individuality). In the various stages of Samadhi, every lower state is a means to a higher state. The 13 stages of Samadhi are:
• Nidra : Deep sleep
• Sahaja: Mind is switched off from the external world of name, form, idea, time, space and object.
• Samprajnata: Knowledge with awareness in association with reasoning, reflection, bliss and sense of individuality is samprajnata.
• Asamprajnata: The neutral space where the consciousness resides before moving from samprajnata to savitarka.
• Savitarka: Absorption with reasoning.
• Nirvitarka: Transition point similar to asamprajnata. There is no association with any word, knowledge or sensory perception.
• Savichara: Process of awareness through deep reflection.
• Nirvichara: Absorption without refelction.
• Ananda: Blissful Absorption. This is a state of absolute peace and bliss.
• Asmita: The ego and the sense of individuality are completely finished. One becomes cosmic or universal at this point.
• Sabija: Absorption with seed. This seed can be defined as the object upon which the consciousness rests during the process of Samadhi.
• Nirbija: Absorption without seed.
All these stages first break through the different patterns of consciousness and ultimately expand beyond the range of prakriti to encompass the cosmic or unlimited consciousness. This is the culmination of raja yoga.
Raja yoga is the practice which our ancient sages have gifted to us, for transformation of mind , awaken state of awareness through our daily and regular practice.of eight limbs of raja yoga .
To maintain the basic health of the body ,different practices of simple techniques help to stimulate and mobilize the body and keep it free from physical tension
Pranayama breathing techniques release stress and rejuvenate cells of body .
This flow of prana and energy harmonizes the nervous system ,releases carbon dioxide and toxins from the body
Prevention from Diseases and ailments.
Balances the three Doshas :Kapha, Pitta and Vatta
Pratyahara: Withdrawal of the senses
An art to withdraw senses from outside world and internalize the awareness .Dharna , dhyana and samadhi give concentration of mind , controls oscillation nature , stabilize ability to attain the goal of life.
yoga darsha by swami niranjananada saraswati
four chapters on freedom by swami satyananda saraswati
yoga magazine from bihar school of yoga