What is Raja Yoga and why is it practiced?
‘Raja’ means the best person, chief, or king. He is a person who has supreme knowledge and clarity of vision and acts with self-confidence and assurance. The term Raja Yoga means a form of meditation that instils similar qualities of fearlessness, independence, and self-realisation.
Though Raj Yoga means honing one’s individuality, it is very different from the egoistic concept of ‘me’ and combines all the facets of our existence and experiences to create a more conscious version of ourselves.
Raja Yoga is particularly important in the chaotic times that we all live in. It is a very effective way to silence the surrounding noise and reflect and centre yourself in quietude.
Raj Yoga was first mentioned in the 16th-century in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and has been interpreted by proponents of Yoga such as Swami Vivekananda.
What are the different aspects of Raja Yoga?
While there are not any types of Raj Yoga, it is organised in eight parts, hence it is also known as Ashtanga Yoga. Here are the limbs of Raja Yoga:
1. Yama or Self Control
Yama consists of five principles:
1) Ahimsa: This means not causing any harm or pain to any living being through one’s words or actions.
2) Satya: This means to always speak the truth and not be evasive with one’s feelings.
3) Asteya: Asteya means that you don’t have a right to anything that’s not rightfully yours.
4) Brahmcharya: This concept goes much beyond sexual abstinence. It refers to fulfilling all the worldly duties while keeping one’s thoughts towards god.
5) Aparigraha: This principle refers to the non-accumulation of physical possessions and acquiring a minimalist way of life. This means owning only those things that you need to live.
2. Niyama or Discipline
Niyama includes five principles namely:
1) Shauca: This principle refers not just to outer cleanliness or purity but also inner purity of thoughts and actions.
2) Santosh: Translating to contentment, it means being happy with what you have and not exhausting yourself by chasing.
3) Svadhyaya: This means studying the Holy Scriptures and imbibing their sayings in your daily life.
4) Tapa: This means inculcating self-control, patience, and perseverance and utilising them in the times when you face obstacles in life.
5) Ishwara Pranidhana: This means having an unending and pure devotion to God and placing all trust and faith in Him.
3. Pratyahara or withdrawal of the senses
This based on five principles:
1. Pranayama or the breath control exercises: Pranayama is an extremely important aspect of the Yogic lifestyle, without it, many of the benefits of physical yoga would be lost. it helps you live a life of purity and a healthy lifestyle.
2. Pratyahara or withdrawal of the senses: This means having complete control over one’s mind and senses and keeping them independent of external stimuli.
3. Dharana or Concentration: This refers to the ability to focus and concentrate on a single object at a particular time.
4. Dhyana or Meditation: This principle means instilling the ability to filter the clutter in one’s mind and attaining a state of mindfulness. This also means shunning one’s ego and feeling one with the divine.
5. Samadhi or Complete consciousness or realization: This means uniting with the divine universal source of knowledge and consciousness.
How is Raja Yoga practiced?
Here is how you can practice Rajayoga meditation:
Step 1: The first step is to find a calm and peaceful space to practice Raj Yoga. This space should be free of clutter, noise, and distractions. It should be well-lit, preferably with natural light, to create positive vibes and ambiance to concentrate. You can play soothing music to help your mind calm down. Ideally, Rajyoga meditation.
Step 2: You should be seated in a comfortable position. Sukhasana and Padmasana are two of the best positions to assume before you start practicing Rajayoga meditation. If you are not comfortable sitting on the floor, you can sit in a sturdy chair. While sitting, your back should be straight and the chest should be open.
Step 3: Calm your mind and free it off wandering thoughts. You can use an object to focus on. If thoughts stray into your mind, don’t be harsh on yourself and bring yourself gently to a state of consciousness.
Step 4: Focus on either of the Raj Yoga principles and mull over them. Relate that principle to your life and think of ways of adopting it.
Step 5: Maintain this state of mind. Instead of abruptly coming out of the meditative state, try holding on to the tranquillity and peace that you gained in the meditative state.
What are the benefits of Raja Yoga?
Here are some important benefits of Raj Yoga:
- Raj Yoga helps in freeing one’s mind from negative chatter and self-limiting thoughts. This leads to a reduction in stress, anxiety, and panic and builds your self-confidence.
- Raj Yoga helps you feel positive and have an elevated state of mind. This has a great impact on your overall quality of life. You not just enjoy better interpersonal relationships but also maintain better health.
- One of the most important benefits of Raj Yoga is that it keeps your mind relaxed and calm, which in turn improves your patterns of sleep. This is essential for maintaining optimum weight, reducing the risk of serious health issues like diabetes and cardiac problems, and enjoying a better mood.
- Rajyoga meditation helps you sharpen your focus and concentration. This improves your productivity and creativity at the professional level.
How to do Raja Yoga safely to avoid injuries?
Though Rajayoga meditation doesn’t involve any physical asanas, it still needs to be performed carefully to avoid stress and injuries. Here’s how you can do it:
- Learn the technique and types of Raj Yoga from an experienced instructor or through online yoga classes. This will help you minimize errors and gain the benefits of Raj Yoga.
- If you feel dizzy or nauseous anytime during the practice of Raj Yoga, stop immediately.
- Don’t practice Rajyoga meditation if you are suffering from a fever or flu.
Practices such as Raj Yoga and Bhakti Yoga have become all the more essential in the current times that we live in. They have a profound impact on one’s state of mind and create harmony and happiness from within.
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