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Key elements of Raja Yoga : Yama and Niyama

Yamas & Niyamas according to Patanjali. Photo Credit: Coni Hörler

BY SUSHANT PANDEY

Raja yoga is understood as one of the classical branches of the yoga tradition. Literally, the term ‘Raja Yoga’ connotes, the culmination or highest state of yoga. Raja means royal; it is so named because it enables the yogin to reach the illustrious king within oneself, the supreme self or atman. In various texts or scriptures of yoga, this term is used in different context as well. In Hatha Yoga Pradipika; one of the most popular traditional Hatha yoga texts; it is mentioned that ‘the knowledge of Hatha yoga is only for Raja Yoga’. (Verse 2/chapter 1).

The term Raja Yoga used here stands for highest state or culmination of yoga i.e. Samadhi or the state of transcendence. Here most scholars and aspirants get confused that purpose of Hatha Yoga is to prepare one for Patanjali’s Raja Yoga. But here in Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the author (swami Swatmarama) is referring to attaining the state of Samadhi through Hatha yoga. Raja Yoga, therefore, refers to the highest state of yoga practice i.e. practices leading to the state of Samadhi. (more…)

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