Similar to classical yoga, Raja Yoga (Ashtanga Yoga)is considered the “royal path” to unifying the mind and body. Raja yoga is considered by some to be a rather difficult type of yoga, because it seeks enlightenment through direct control and mastery of the mind.
People who can concentrate well and enjoy meditation are best suited for Raja yoga. This type – or branch – of yoga has 8 limbs:
- Yama – moral discipline
- Niyama – self-restraint
- Asana – postures,exercises
- Pranayama – breath control
- Pratyahara – sensory inhibition
- Dharana – concentration
- Dhyana – meditation
- Samadhi – ecstasy,enlightment
The eight limbs of Raja Yoga (Ashtanga) are sometimes divided in the four lower and four upper limbs.The four lower limbs (from the yama to pranayama) are parallel to the lower limbs of Hatha Yoga, while the four higher limbs, from pratyahara to samadhi be specific for the Raja Yoga . The three upper limbs (Yama-Niyama-Asana) practiced simultaneously constitute the Samyama.
Raja Yoga`s purpose is to train and bring the power to the mind to make it able to achieve enlightment (Samandhi).It does so through certain asanas and pranayamas exercises that are aiming to prepair for meditation and concetration.
Swami Vivekananda In his classic Raja Yoga, describes the process in the following way:
“When the mind has been trained to remain fixed on a certain internal or external location, there comes to it the power of flowing in an unbroken current, as it were, towards that point. This state is called dhyana. When one has so intensified the power of dhyana as to be able to reject the external part of perception and remain meditating only on the internal part, the meaning, that state is called Samadhi.”
The Lotus Pose and the 12 basic asanas of Hatha Yoga are practiced in Raja Yoga.