An Overview of Raja Yoga
In order to see how Raja Yoga fits into the overall philosophy of yoga, we will look to the Yoga Sutras and the Paths of Yoga. Raja yoga is one of the four paths of yoga.
The ancient Indian sage, Patanjali, wrote the Yoga Sutras (aphorisms) which are considered Yoga’s definitive Scripture. Yoga literally means “union”(Divine union). Union is achieved through the neutralization of ego-directed feelings, because once these become stilled, the yogi realizes that he is, and that he has always been, one with the Infinite—that his awareness of this reality was limited only by his infatuation with limitation. The different paths of yoga must be understood in the light of how they help to bring about this neutralization of the waves of feeling.
Paths of Yoga
The external or outward paths of yoga, are like tributary streams:
The path of action—Karma yoga. Karma yoga intends to cut the bonds of ego involvement by acting out, in the right way, impulses that were set into motion, in the wrong way, in the past. Spiritually harmful impulses can be redirected into constructive tendencies.
The path of devotion—Bhakti yoga. The practice of Bhakti yoga is intended to awaken the emotions, but after awakening them to calm and focus them, not to agitate them.
The path of discrimination—Gyana (or Jnana) yoga. Gyana yoga requires that questions be asked constantly in the mind: What? Why? Who? Where? “What is the true goal of life? Why is it the true goal? Who am I that seeks that true goal? Where shall I find that goal?”
The river into which the above tributary streams flow is considered the internal or inward path of meditation—Raja yoga (royal or kingly yoga). The above three tributaries are based on the basic qualities of human nature, whereas Raja Yoga transcends human nature in its emphasis on eternal qualities of the soul. Since superconscious meditation is the culmination of all the other yogas, anyone seeking the highest spiritual attainment should include in his spiritual search the daily practice of meditation.
Raja Yoga at Ananda Center Rhode Island
Raja Yoga, the path of meditation includes the following subjects:
• Meditation for focusing your mind and calming your emotions.
• Energization exercises for strengthening the will and physical body.
• Yoga postures to keep you fit physically, mentally, and emotionally.
• Philosophy of Yoga for personal and spiritual growth, drawn from Patanjali’s teachings on yoga and passed down in an unbroken lineage from ancient times.
• Healing for balance and harmony in the body.
• Breathing to increase awareness and energy, improve health, and deepen meditation.
• Yogic principles of diet to enhance mental clarity and health.
• Kriya yoga (a special technique for awakening energies in the spine and brain).
All of these subjects are based on the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda as experienced by his disciple, Swami Kriyananda.
Courses in “The Art and Science of Raja Yoga” by Swami Kriyananda are periodically offered, as well workshops on related topics. Please check calendar for details, or call – 401-524-4766.