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Ashtang Yoga (Raja Yoga)

This is the most popular path of Yoga, Raja Yoga, literally meaning “The Royal Yoga”. It is called so because this path is said to have essential features of all paths, hence its Royal in the sense of being topmost. It is said to be originated by yogic seer Maha-rishi Patanjali, and the most authentic spiritual text is known as “Patanjali Yoga Sutra”.

Raja Yoga is called ” Asht-ang Yoga “, (Eight Parts Yoga), as it is an Eight Fold Path, the eight limbs are divided into two parts :

I) Bahiranga Yoga : Outer Yoga (of gross physical body)
II) Antarang Yoga : Inner Yoga (of Subtle mental spiritual body)

I) Bahiranga Yoga


1) Yama
(Yogic Dont – Restraints/Rules)

Ahimsa — (Non Violence)
Satya — (Not to Iie, =>Truthfulness)
Asateya — (Not to Steal).
Bhramcharya — (Not to Indulge in Sex, =>Celibacy)
Aparigrah — (Not to Accumulate)


2) Niyama
— (Yogic Do’s)

Shauch — (Purity – Outer and Inner Mind)
Santosh — (Contentment)
Tapa — (Austerity)
Swadhyay — (Self study = Introspection)
Ishwar Sharnagati — (Surrender to God)

 

3) Asana — (Body Postures)

Patanjali Yoga Sutra Says “Sthir Sukham Asanam” meaning “A Stable Peaceful Posture is Asana”. One must remember that purpose of Asana in Raja Yoga is different than that in hatha Yoga. In Ashtang Yoga main goal is meditation, so any posture good enough to help you remain stable for longer meditation is useful.

4) Pranayama

This literal meaning of the word is : Prana (Breath-Vital energy) + Yama (Control).
Learn the various breathing exercises to increase, make the mind peaceful. There are basically 9 types of breathing exercises. This cleanses the more subtle aspect of one, the etheric body (the pranic energy body) and harmonizes the mental thought fluctuations.

5) Pratyahar

The Act of withdrawing attention from unwanted thoughts is called Prayahar. Learn to make mind free of unnecessary thoughts. This is last Step of Bahirang Yog, and this is first step moving inwards, by first clearing the unwanted things at mental level now.

II) Antarang Yoga =  Inner Level Union

6) Dharna

The act of focusing, trying to put mind on one object is called Dharna. Learn to increase your mental focus and clarity. The Object can be initially, physical and outside, and gradually, it can be more sublte and internal, like Physical feeling.

Dharna can be of many types, first external and then internal.

As for internal, basically 5 types on basis of 5 elements by contemplating on 5 chakras.

1st = Root Chakra (Mooladhar) = Earth Element
2nd = Sacral Chakra (Swadhinisthan) = Water Element
3rd = Navel Chakra (Manipur) = Fire Element
4rth = Heart Chakra (Anahat) = Air Element
5th = Throat Chakra (Vishudh) = Sky Element (Space/Ether)

The levels are increasing subtle, like Earth element at Root Chakra to Sky Element at Throat.

At Chakras higher than these, the next thing, Dhyan Happens.

 


 

 7) Dhyan

The Word Dhyan mean Meditation. Learn the art Meditation, art of dissolving ones mind.

As per Yoga Texts, when your Dharna becomes stable, atleast for 5 Ghati, then a person enters a state of Dhyan. ( 1 Ghati = 24 min, so 5 Ghati = 24 * 5 = 120 mins, = 2 hours),

This happens when attention reaches the Third Eye region near forehead. This is at 6th Chakra, also known as the Third Eye Chakra, or Agya Chakra. At this point, a person is said to be in A-Sampragyat Samadhi. (Unstable at Cosmic Union)


 

8) Samadhi

And Finally Experience the Bliss of Cosmic Union of your soul merged in the Supreme Soul. When your Dhyan Becomes so deep and intense, that you loose not just your mind… but even yourself in it, then Samadhi happens.

This happens at the 7th Chakra, the Crown Chakra This is the Sampragyat Samadhi, The Yoga.

 

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