Raja Yoga is the royal Yoga explaining higher development and discovery of our hidden powers resulting in complete inner harmony, concentration and meditation.
The eight-fold Path of Patanjali’s is a strong basis for one’s commencement of study and is common to all yoga margas or paths. Known as Ashtanga Yoga this 8-fold teaching has 7 stages of disciplines requiring effort from the individual. The eighth stage is known as Samadhi and is the result of spiritual grace following personal effort and aspiration towards God. It is the reward of personal discipline and intensity of aspiration and devotion but it is also a mysterious factor beyond our conscious control that results in our spiritual enlightenment and with it, a state of ineffable bliss.
Samadhi is the state of at-one-ment with all. It is not by our thought, or by our emotion that we know this state, it is by a complete feeling sense entirely above and beyond what is usually understood of our emotional feelings. We experience it through a totally new sense and one which allows us to expand outside our limits of the ego to be at one with All.
It represents the successful accomplishment of the yogi who disciplines himself that he will be better prepared to know and understand what life is beyond his little self and what are the answers to the questions of his soul. Samadhi is a measure of success of the meditator – the pinnacle of his experience. This prepares the individual for the eventual and final stage of Maha Samadhi or the great Bliss of death – his release from the material world and his birth into the spiritual Beyond when his individual being comes again to merge with the Universal One with the universal.
The Ashtanga System was accredited to Patanjali and is the 8 limbed system commonly embraced by the Raja Yoga method with its first two ethical principles having correspondence in the Christian 10 Commandments.
Yamas – represent the moral/ethical restraints
ahimsa = non violence
asteya = non-stealing
satya = non-lying, non hating
asteya =non stealing
brahmacharya = continence, non-wasting
aparigraha = non covetousness
One’s discipline is to eradicate these negatives or the ‘weeds’ of one’s character and physical purification including kriyas or inner hygiene practices of the body.
Niyamas – represent the cultivation of the virtues
saucha = purity
santosha = contentment
swadhayasya = study of the scriptures
ishwara pranidhara self-analysis, devotion and building of the body temple
Together the Yamas/Niyamas represented the ethical and moral basis of yoga training, that is non-violent and only constructive in its expression. It was the basic exercise and reference guide for students in following their personal disciplines or Sadhana.