the science of physical and mental control
Often called the "royal road", raja yoga offers a comprehensive method for controlling the waves of thought by turning our mental and physical energy into spiritual energy.
The Eight Limbs of Raja YogaCompiled by the Sage Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras, the Eight Limbs are a progressive series of steps or disciplines which purify the body and mind, ultimately leading the yogi to enlightenment.
1) YamasThe yamas, or restraints are divided into five moral injunctions, aimed at destroying the lower nature : non-violence; truthfulness in word, thought and deed; non-stealing; moderation in all things; and non-possessiveness.
2) NiyamasThe niyamas or observances are also divided into five. Fostering positive qualities, they consist of : purity; contentment; austerity; study of the sacred texts; and constantly living with an awareness of the Divine Presence.
3) AsanasAsanas or postures forms the first half of the sub-division of Raja Yoga known as Hatha Yoga.
4) PranayamaThe regulation of the breath - forms the second half of Hatha Yoga.
5) PratyaharaThe yogic practice of turning the mind to introspection by voluntarily shutting out distractions provided by the senses.
6) DharanaConcentration - leads to dhyana.
7) DhyanaMeditation - culminates in samadhi
8) SamadhiSuperconsciousness - the highest stage in meditation, in which a person experiences oneness with the universe.