By Bhavan Kumar
If you graduated from a Hatha Yoga instructor training course, you might have lightly skimmed over the teachings of Maharishi Patanjali. The Yoga Sutras were compiled by him. Patanjali, the Raja style, and Ashtanga are not usually discussed in great detail during a typical teacher training course. However, it is worth your time to learn, master, and guide your students toward the path mentioned in the Yoga Sutras.
Raja is often associated with Ashtanga, the eight-limbed yoga practice. As with Ashtanga, Raja focuses on the mind, but for students who look for a more mentally focused type of yoga, Raja is an excellent option.
The practice of Raja Yoga focuses on the student’s mind, the various “afflictions” that causes an unquiet or anxious mind, and how focus and meditation can help to quiet the mind. In order to quiet the mind, a student will pass through a total of eight limbs (levels). Together, self-mastery of these limbs will enable the student to move toward a state of enlightenment. The eight limbs as explained by Maharishi Patanjali include the following aspects.
Yama: This term translates into “self-restraint.” A student will practice aspects such as refraining from greed, stealing, and instead practicing honesty.
Niyama: Building on the first technique, Niyama involves a practice that incorporates restraint into a student’s daily life. This can include self-development books, a regular hatha yoga practice or surrendering one’s ego.
Asana: These are the postures, which include the typical poses we see on magazine covers and vinyasas (sequences of poses) that students around the world will find in most studios. The key is to use these poses in a conscious manner is to practice with a relaxed mind, while letting judgment and criticism take a back seat.
Pranayama: Translated into control of energy (prana) through breath regulation, practitioners use breath techniques to connect the mind and body.
Prathyahara: Called “sense withdrawal,” this is a retraining of our senses to stop focusing on what usually stimulates us in the physical world in order to start observing what is within us.
Dharana: Translated into “concentration,” the student learns how to retrain the senses to focus on a certain point or intention.
Dhyana: Also known as meditation, a central tenant of all yoga traditions. This allows a practitioner to extend his or her concentration into increasingly longer periods of time.
Samadhi: Finally, the student moves into a “super-consciousness,” allowing him or her to experience a level of awareness that is far more profound than the superficial ones that most individuals experience. When speaking to teachers and Gurus you may be told: “This is a state that is extremely subjective and difficult to explain from one person to another.”
A Simple Look at Super States of Consciousness
When listening to his lectures, Paulji has a more simple explanation about the complete enhancement of one’s intuition being a form of super-consciousness. Therefore, in this state we could clearly see the truth within a person who has purely good intentions and one who wishes to waste our time with trickery and deception. This might also explain why some enlightened souls have chosen a monastic life. Perhaps they just don’t have the time to waste in sorting out who is really pure in heart.
He also mentions the need to stay focused on this exact moment. Never allowing yourself to be swallowed up by past mistakes, but to use mistakes as lessons on the journey. We can practice pranayama to focus on the tasks we have at this moment. In this way, we are in a state of bliss and present for Yoga practice in every task we do.
Through practicing Raja Yoga, students learn to retrain an unfocused mind, incorporate more constructive life practices, and use the body to attain a more focused kind of consciousness. It’s a holistic way to practice self-improvement through the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of yoga training. Raja goes beyond a simple practice to a reorganizing of a student’s mind in order to provide a better way of living.
© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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