Raja Yoga

 

The term Rāja Yoga is a retronym, introduced in the 15th-century Hatha Yoga Pradipika to distinguish the school based on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali from the more current school of Hatha Yoga expounded by Yogi Swatmarama. The term is also used to describe the entirely unique meditation practice of the Brahma Kumaris.

Raja Yoga is sometimes referred to as Aṣṭānga (eight-limbed) yoga because there are eight aspects to the path to which one must attend. Patanjali himself called his system of yoga 'Kriya Yoga' as is known in his first sutra of the second chapter: Tapas svadyaya ishvarapranidhanani kriya yogah "Discipline, insight, and devotion are the pillars of Kriya Yoga" This is not to be confused with the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga of K. Pattabhi Jois.

Raja Yoga is so-called because it is primarily concerned with the mind. The mind is traditionally conceived as the "king" of the psycho-physical structure which does its bidding (whether or not one has realized this). Because of the relationship between the mind and the body, the body must be first "tamed" through self-discipline and purified by various means (Hatha Yoga).

A good level of overall health and psychological integration must be attained before the deeper aspects of yoga can be pursued. Humans have all sorts of addictions and obsessions and these preclude the attainment of tranquil abiding (meditation).

Through restraint (yama) such as celibacy, abstaining from intoxicants, and careful attention to one's actions of body, speech and mind, the human being becomes fit to practice meditation. This yoke that one puts upon oneself (discipline) is another meaning of the word yoga.

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