Raja Yoga

Definition - What does Raja Yoga mean?

Raja yoga is more popularly known as Ashtanga yoga, or the "eightfold path" that leads to spiritual liberation. Ancient Sanskrit texts describe Raja yoga as being the ultimate goal of yoga practice, rather than the physical and mental exercises involved. This means that it is considered the state of peace and contentment that comes with sustained yoga practice and meditation.

Raja means "king" in Sanskrit and, as such, Raja yoga is considered the king of all yoga types and the "royal path." It is important for each yogi to understand the different types of yoga in order to choose the correct path in the fullest possible knowledge of where it should ultimately lead him/her.

Yogapedia explains Raja Yoga

Historically, Raja yoga was used to mean the highest possible level of yoga practice. In this context, Hatha yoga is viewed as being a way of achieving this level. With this definition, once the level of Raja yoga is reached, the yogi enters the state of consciousness or enlightenment known as samadhi.

The eightfold path, or the eight "limbs" of Raja yoga as described by the sage, Patanjali, in the Yoga Sutras, are:

  1. Yama - Non-violence, truthfulness, chastity, non-stealing and detachment to worldly pleasures
  2. Niyama - Purity, contentment, austerity, self-study
  3. Asana - Yoga postures
  4. Pranayama - Breathing techniques, control of prana
  5. Pratyahara - Withdrawal of senses
  6. Dharana - Concentration
  7. Dhyana - Meditation
  8. Samadhi - Super conscious state, enlightenment
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