Most of the world has become health conscious and is thinking in terms of calories, cholesterol, fiber and fats. But that is an incomplete picture as no health programme is complete without offering mental and emotional well-being. It is true that any form of physical exercise does bring down tension and stress levels, but they work only up to a certain level. In the stressful life that we are living; something more is required and it is here that Raja Yoga offers the complete solution to a healthy mind.
Defining Raja Yoga
Raja Yoga is also known as Ashtanga Yoga. The term Ashtanga means eight limbs. Therefore Ashtanga Yoga refers to eight limbs of Yoga.
Raja Yoga is an exact science and aims at controlling all thought waves. This yoga clears the mind like a mirror. As every thought, feeling or memory causes a ripple in the mind, it tends to distort the mental mirror. Practice of Raja Yoga, help in training the mind to cope with the distortions that the mind faces in everyday life, for a healthier wholesome person.
The Eight Limbs of Raja Yoga – The Ashtanga Yoga
1- Yama – This has five parts: Ahimsa (non-violence), Satyam (truthfulness), Asteya (not stealing), Brahmacharya (celibacy), and Aparigraha (non-covetousness). Practising this removes the brutal nature in man and strengthens the will power.
2- Niyama – This also consists of five parts: Shaucha (internal and external purity), Santosha (contentment), Tapas (austerity), Svadhaya (study of religious books and repetition of mantras), and Ishvarapranidhana (surrender to God).
It is the practice of Yama and Niyama that trains the mind to meditate and benefit from it. Those who practice meditation without the rigors of Yama and Niyama do not benefit completely from meditation, for the ultimate purpose of meditation is the state of Nirvana or Illumination.
3- Asana – This refers to any easy, steady comfortable pose. Asana’s steady the body.
4- Pranayama – Through regulated breathing; the tendencies of the mind are controlled.
5- Pratyahara – By developing inner spiritual strength it removes the distractions ad develops the power.
6- Dharana – The first lesson of Raja Yoga is concentration that merges into meditation and leads to Samadhi. Pranayama, Brahmacharya, having Satvic food, silence, Satsanga all develop concentration. Having these qualities helps concentrate on the space between the two eyebrows, which is the seat of the mind.
7- Dhyana – This is cultivating dispassion. The main obstacles in achieving this state of mind are our desires, cravings, laziness, gluttony and sleep. Reducing material cravings helps develop Dhyana.
Dhyana requires one to give up excess food, excess sleep, excess talk, excess mixing about and excess exertion. While concentrating evil thoughts may enter the mind but one should not use will force to drive them away. This only tax the will and the evil thoughts tend to return with redoubled force. Being indifferent and becoming a witness to these thoughts, eventually cleanses the mind of impurities.
8- Samadhi – It is that enviable state of mind where one is rid of Avidya (ignorance), Asmita (egoism), Raga-Dwesha (likes and dislikes), and Abhinivesha (clinging to mundane life).
Controlling the mind is a more difficult task than controlling the body. The tools used are also totally different. The bottom line is that as one controls the baser animal instincts through practice of Raja Yoga, not only does one reach a higher level of thinking but also develops a positive attitude to life! Besides helping one lead a stress free life, it also relieves us from all negative emotions like anger, worries, fear and low self-esteem.
Article By: Mr. S. N. Gupta
Digital Marketer, Mumpreneur, Blogger and Business Coach.