Eight Steps of Raja Yoga
There are eight steps in Raja Yoga, which are:
- Yama (Rules)
- Niyama (Regulations)
- Asana (postures)
- Pranayama (Control of pran or vital energy)
- Pratyahara (Withdrawal of senses)
- Dharana (Concentration)
- Dhyana (Meditation)
- Samadhi (Super-consciousness)
But, do we follow each step sincerely? Very few people try to practice the concepts of yama and niyama in their daily life. Most people are simply not bothered and others think they are above it. Straightaway, we embark on doing poses and pranayama as these give physical benefits almost immediately. Most of us care more for our body than our mind.
Trataka to Develop Concentration
After practicing poses and pranayama for a few days, we try meditation. Not surprisingly, we do not have any clear idea about what meditation is all about as we skip the steps of sense withdrawal and concentration. Naturally, we begin to stumble during meditation. Some yoga experts say to develop concentration we should practice trataka (keeping your eyes focused on a single object like a candle flame).
Meditation is not Easy for Beginners
So, we practice trataka for some time and then return to meditation. Still we find that negative thoughts such as weakness, aversion, desire etc. mar our meditation. And, instead of feeling good, we end up feeling more depressed. And, we begin to wonder why we do not reap the much-touted benefits of meditation, while others report such good results.
Sense Withdrawal is the Key
A keen yoga expert would tell you to go back to practicing sense withdrawal. You need to observe your mind’s shenanigans in a detached manner. You need to understand what is occurring inside your mind to be able to deal effectively with your thoughts, feelings and emotions. Thus, we are led back to sense withdrawal, which is the key to success in meditation.
How to Succeed in All Aspects of Raja Yoga
To succeed in yoga, you first need to pay great attention to the first four aspects of raja yoga namely rules, regulations, poses and pranayama. Once you gain mastery over these, then you should turn your focus to the next four steps namely sense withdrawal, concentration, meditation and super-consciousness. A well-rounded yoga practice which pays equal attention to all the steps of raja yoga will benefit you physically, mentally and spiritually. Raja yoga is indeed the gateway to liberation.
How to Approach Raja Yoga Meditation
- You must be sincere, regular and disciplined enough to practice daily meditation.
- Approach your daily meditation in a positive frame of mind. Be optimistic that you too can gain inner bliss through raja yoga.
- Be disciplined but not serious. In fact, meditation will lighten your outlook and you will realize life is God’s cosmic drama.
- Learn to be patient and do not think you will garner immediate results from raja yoga meditation.
Benefits of Raja Yoga Practice and Meditation
- Regular practice of raja yoga meditation gives immense physical, mental and spiritual benefits.
- Diabetes patients can gain a lot as they can regulate their blood pressure and blood sugar with raja yoga.
- Even chronic ailments can be treated with raja yoga meditation, which can ease the acceptance of symptoms.
- We begin to think more clearly and our mind becomes more focused.
- Meditation can even improve our memory power.
- Raja yoga meditation gives us great peace of mind and this will enable us to face even tough situations with calmness and equanimity.
- Raja yoga will help you realize that bliss and happiness are inside you. You will begin to enjoy silence and solitude as these give immense peace of mind.