Also known as supreme or higher yoga, Raj yoga is one of the branches of yoga. The word ‘raj’ means ‘king’ thus the term ‘Raj yoga’ means kingly or royal yoga. This branch of yoga has its roots in ancient sciences and it follows a step by step approach, where the mind is systematically analysed. Raj yoga basically works to unveil the hidden potential within a human being. According to the sages who developed this type of yoga, there is a hidden psychic potential within every human being. Raj yoga uses various techniques to bring the mind under control and unfold higher states of consciousness.
Raj yoga has two sub paths: Hatha yoga and Kundalini yoga, where first the prana, or vital energy, is mastered and then the dormant kundalini energy is awakened. Practising this combination of yoga helps you gain total control over your mind.
The eight-fold path of raj yoga
The sage Patanjali laid down the eight-fold path of yoga, to help people attain equanimity and emancipation of the mind, which is known as moksha. The steps of the path include the following elements:
• Yamas: Values and restraints like non violence, honesty, not stealing and celibacy.
• Niyamas: Observances like purity, happiness, soberness, study of sacred scriptures, worship and surrender to god.
• Asanas: Relaxed and stable postures that help you focus your mind. Some of the asanas that will help you reach this goal are Sirsasana, Paschimottanasana, Dhanurasana, Shavasana and Halasana.
• Pranayama: Control of vital energy with the help of techniques like Anuloma Viloma (alternate nostril breathing), Surya Bhedana (right nostril breathing), etc.
• Pratyahara: Withdrawal of the senses.
• Dharana: Concentration of the mind.
• Dhyana: Meditation.
• Samadhi: Super conscious state.
The benefits of Raj yoga
Raj yoga has several benefits, which include:
• Improved concentration
• Better sleeping patterns
• Cordial relationships
• Better health overall
• Positive mindset and tranquillity
It is imperative that all the eight limbs are followed consistently in order to gain control over the mind and body. This will lead to a feeling of general well being.
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Courtesy: Manisha Kharbanda