Updated: Oct 19
The Royal Path of the Yogis
Raja Yoga, (Sanskrit: राजयोग rāja-yoga m.) focuses on attaining control over the mind and understanding its nature. While many people in the West think about Yoga as Asanas (physical training of flexibility, coordination and strength), Patanjali's Raja Yoga specifically delves into the mastery of the mind through mental techniques.
By observing and analysing ourselves, we gain insight into our individual patterns, identifying what hinders our potential and what is beneficial to us. Through directing our attention towards our positive qualities, we gradually cultivate our inner strength. The virtues that we all carry inside flourish and our life becomes more pure and light, our behaviour more benevolent and helpful to ourselves and others. Repetitive affirmations play a significant role in programming the mind, transforming it into a tool that serves us in the long run. The angry voice inside us, yelling, putting us down, gets silent and the soft voice of our inner wisdom becomes more perceivable. The mind is our best friend, our life-long companion and our powerful instrument to create the life we want.
The Purpose of Raja Yoga
The purpose of Raja Yoga, known as the "Royal Path of Yoga," is to quiet the fluctuations of the mind, the thought waves. The vibrations of the mind and intellect (known as Vrittis) can fall silent and the inner wisdom can shine. The unconscious aspects of our mind become more apparent. By achieving this, one can attain a state of supreme bliss and perfect peace (Moksha). Typically, people identify themselves solely with their body and the self-conceptions of the mind. All our layers and titles seem to define who we are. Our memories tell our life story and foster beliefs about our nature. Yet, the true nature, the inner core and true essence of us remains hidden behind all these concepts of self-definition. Those who solely identify with the mind, body, and Vrittis, find themselves caught in smaller or bigger sufferings and cannot experience unconditional happiness.
Realty-the Vibration of the mind
"If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration". -Nicola Tesla
The entire universe is composed of vibrations, forces, and energy. Similarly, the mental waves, being vibrations themselves, must subside for one to reach the absolute state of silence. It is akin to stilling the surface of a lake to discern its depths. In the absence of agitating Vrittis, one can realize their true self. Just as soap cleanses the body, the practice of Japa (mental repetition of a Mantra), Dhyana (immersion), Kirtana (Mantra chanting), and adherence to Yama and Niyama (ethical and self-disciplinary principles) cleanse the mind and psyche of impurities. Their sacred vibrations still the impurities of our mind and lead us step by step deeper into our true nature. Subscribe to our Philosophy workshops to improve your Meditation Practice.
Shaping the mind- our virtues, our strength
Just as one nourishes the body with food, thoughts can be nourished with spiritual practices, enriching the soul. Through inner joy, one can experience happiness and fulfilment, independent of external possessions. Failures, bad news, or challenging circumstances will have less impact on such an individual. The philosophy of Raja Yoga emphasizes ethical behaviour and self-improvement. The spiritual aspirant is encouraged to serve with humility, make sacrifices, and refrain from misusing their powers. Create a program for your life and adhere to it consistently and diligently. If you approach your practice earnestly, with calmness, firmness, and wholeheartedness, seeking liberation, you will undoubtedly attain inner peace and wisdom.
How to start with Raja Yoga
Raja Yoga is mental Yoga with strong psychological benefits. Raja Yoga knows about the sacred interconnection between body and psyche. In Raja Yoga, Pranayama and Asanas are also recommended to gain control over the mind. In the third chapter of the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali recommends focusing on specific parts of the body to have an effect on the psyche. Patanjali recommends Samyama on the heart chakra, to understand more about the psyche. He says Samyama on the heart chakra, leads to understanding the nature of the mind.
Effects of Raja Yoga Practice
Concentration on Kantha Kupa, the cavity in the throat, causes hunger and thirst, greed and compulsion to cease. According to Patanjali, concentrating on the Nabhi Chakra, the navel centre, leads to knowledge of the composition and structure of the body and ultimately also to the strengthening of the inner instincts. Focusing on Kurma Nadi, the concentration on the subtle spine, helps to achieve inner stability. So, in the few Sutras we find a concept that says body and psyche are connected. Focusing on certain parts of the body has an effect on the psyche and working on the psyche has an effect on the body. In behavioural biology and neuroendocrinology, we call that communication path biofeedback.
Raja Yoga and Psychosomatics
In the last decades the psychological aspect of diseases has been studied and all illnesses have to been found to have a psychological proportion. Often the mind turns out to be the cause of dysfunctional symptoms. So, you can say that certain physical illnesses are related to certain psychological problems. The mind expresses in the body. Our thoughts activate the nervous system (brain, autonomous nervous system, visceral nervous system) which enable our glands in the body which create the matching biochemical mix and thus our emotional state. The physical reality and our mental activity are aligned. You can address these psychological issues through certain physical exercises. Body and mind can heal together and we become whole again, a whole being.
Digestive disorders and the mind - Psychosomatic Pathways
Let's take an example: certain digestive problems can be related to the fact that people have low self-esteem and many fears. The abdominal muscles tense up and we start to breathe in the upper chest. The digestion slows down and toxins cannot be transported out of our body easily. The belly organs don´t get enough oxygen to work properly and over time health problems can occur.
Now if we want to fix the lack of self-esteem and inner turmoil, Raja Yoga would recommend to focus on the spine. And by focusing on the abdominal area, there comes an inner centering.
Specific Practice for specific needs
In Raja Yoga, to remedy indigestion one should practice Asanas that enhance self-esteem and stability. To ignite the fire for digestion also ignites the fire of the mind, the stamina and will-power. Body and mind are ONE system and never separate.
Patanjali has different approaches. There are Samyama techniques and Asanas that have effects on the psyche. So, you don't go directly to the physical problems with the physical exercises and don't think directly about which muscles hurt and how can we influence the muscles. We address the psychological problems that are behind the physical ailment and how can we tackle these through physical exercises.
In Raja Yoga it is then said that we can tackle the psychological problems by seeing what meaning is attached to them. Here, too, there are physical exercises so that we intuitively understand the meaning. This has an impact on the psychological problems and this has an impact on the body. For each disorder there are practices that are aligned to the individual structure.