On the mental side: The central teaching
of raja is meditation. Absolute mental control as taught in Patanjalis
Eight Limbs is the goal and is achieved through meditation, concentration,
and breathing. When the mind is not restless, you are closer to self-awareness.
the physical side: Hatha yoga is the physical branch of the
meditative science of raja yoga. While meditation teaches control
of the mind, hatha teaches control of the body. Hatha uses asanas
(postures), pranayama (control of breath), and relaxation to control
the physical body and the subtle life force called prana. Within hatha
yoga, there are many styles or types of physical yoga, such as ananda,
ashtanga, bikram, integral, iyengar, kripalu, kundalini, sivananda,
and viniyoga, to name a few.
Many Westerners who come to yoga for simply exercise are perfectly
happy to just do some form of hatha yoga. They will realize the benefits
of a toned and supple body and are satisfied with that. But to truly
follow the path of raja, you must take a comprehensive approach
using the physical yoga practice to strengthen the body in order to
sit in meditation where the true union of body, mind, and spirit occurs.
Karma yoga (action)
Karma yoga focuses on the causes and effects of an individuals
actions. It teaches how to live a life of spiritual action and selfless
service. Have you ever seen someone flip a coin in a beggars
cup and say with a sheepish smile, I can use all the karma I
can get? The true follower of the karma path acts without thought
of gain or reward. Karma achieves union with God through right action
and selfless service. Karma yoga is a yoga you take inside of you
and make a way of life.
Bhakti yoga (devotion)
Opening the heart to the Divine is the focus of bhakti, a mystical
path of personal devotion. It is the path most followed in India,
and it involves surrendering oneself to the Divine through prayer,
worship, and ritual. Bhakti means to serve the Divine.
Chanting or singing the praises of whatever divine presence is meaningful
to you form a substantial part of bhakti yoga.
Jnana yoga (knowledge)
Jnana (sometimes written gyana) is considered the most difficult path,
because it requires a radical shift in perception. The goal is to
seek the knowledge hidden in all of us through questioning, meditation,
and contemplation. Before practicing jnana yoga, the student needs
to have integrated the lessons of the other yogic paths for
without selflessness, love of God, and the strength of body and mind,
the search for self-realization is nothing more than an exercise in
philosophy. The jnana student uses the mind to explore his or her
own nature and to find knowledge through God.
All of these paths may not be for you. You will have to choose which
path or paths may help you develop or progress along your inner journey.
Do you simply want to increase your flexibility? Do you want to become
a more giving person? Do you seek union with the Divine? Do you search
for knowledge and wisdom? You choose the road. It will make all the
A summary of the Middle Way that the Buddha taught as the path to
nirvana or enlightenment. It involves three components: wisdom (prajna),
moral practice (shila), and meditative concentration (samadhi). Wisdom
includes right views or right understanding and right intent or right
motivation. Moral Practice includes right speech, right conduct, and
right livelihood. Meditative Concentration includes right effort or
right endeavor, right mindfulness, and right concentration. The eight
components are often depicted as the eight spokes of the wheel of
Dharma, and progress in the Eightfold Path is construed as a spiraling
movement from the circumference to the center, in which each of the
components is attended to as one moves closer to enlightenment.
Yoga: is the system of Yoga taught by Guru Sri K. Pattabhi
Jois at the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in Mysore, India. This
method of Yoga involves synchronizing the breath (using ujai breathing)
with progressive series of postures, incorporating locks or "bundas".
A process producing intense internal heat and a profuse, purifying
sweat that detoxifies muscles and organs. The result is improved circulation,
a light and strong body, and a calm mind.
may your practice be your life and your life be your practice,
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