Philosophy And Methodology Of Raja Yoga - Yoga Positions and Poses
Yoga Poses and Positions
Raja Yoga is also called Ashtang Yoga because the eight limbed practices of Ashtang yoga come under Raja yoga. It is considered the royal way of doing yoga. It is basically based on the principles of controlling the mind and achieving the salvation and total deliverance from the world by controlling the energy generated by the thought processes. Ashtanga yoga was in the ancient times used for the sole purpose of grooming the princes and princesses of royal families and others of lower birth were not given any exposure to it. Thus the yogic practices of Raja yoga were exclusive to Rajas or kings, hence the name.
Ashtanga yoga is a path that can be accessed today by anyone and it is a way of yoga that has access to all the other forms of yoga, exclusively decided for a certain kind of individual according to his or her understanding of principles of yoga and basic temperament. It can therefore be patterned according to one's disposition and essential nature. It makes use of asanas and meditative practices but all the practices are firmly placed on the strong foundations of thought energies. This means that the Sadhak or yogi is supposed to control his thoughts and direct them towards dissociation from the worldly matters while he is serving and looking after all his duties. It is not complete bodily detachment but a form of mental dissociation that the worldly affairs and material objects do not disturb or even attract him. He realizes the importance of self.
Raja yoga believes in the entity of Prakriti, which is the nature extending to the highest precincts of the universe. This has large influence on the Purush or the self, which is the other entity, in all aspects of his life. The purush gets manipulated by the power of prakriti in every event of his life and everything that he does. Thus he gets swayed from his path from time to time under the power of Prakriti entity. Purush on the other hand has been endowed with all the power of the third entity that is Ishvara, or God himself. Thus if the purush controls this influence of prakriti over his self through control over his thought processes he can unite with Ishvara and experience the merger with the divine consciousness.
Ashtanga yoga is a practical way of approaching the path of enlightenment. In his lack of Viveka or state of Aviveka, which is a condition of not understanding the true nature of entities due to lack of wisdom, the purush considers himself dependent upon the prakriti. He thinks that his existence is solely dependent upon the prakriti. He feels tremendously drawn towards the prakriti and feels attached with all its objects. This is a state of Moha. He gets involved deeply into the cycles of prakriti and gets more detached from the truth and reality.
And the reality remains that he and his self are the sole entities that are part and parcel of the Ishvara. He is not different from divine. He has all the power to do everything that he wishes to as he is the essence of divine himself. All he needs to do is to detach him from the bonds of prakriti and that will automatically bring him closer to the Ishvara. He has to open his eyes and realize that his own attachment towards prakriti is the main detriment to his own progress to the path towards the divine consciousness, which is the path to salvation.
The methodology of attainment of salvation through Ashtanga yoga is based on one's personal capacity and grasping power of the ultimate. Raja yoga or Ashtanga yoga recognizes and defines three kinds of pupils and the path of learning is decided upon the category in which a person falls. These are:
Uttama Adhikari: He is the first class aspirant. He starts with Vairagya and Abhyasa and soon attains Samadhi. He starts with Citta Vritti Nirodha, which means thought process control and modifications.
Madhyama Adhikari: He is the middle class aspirant as prescribed three kinds of practices of Kriya yoga to raise his level to the first class aspirant so that he can attain Samadhi. These practices are:
Tapas: It is practice of asceticism with complete egoless ness. The person follows all his actions with complete detachment from selfish interests.
Svadhayay: It is the study of literature and scriptures to calm the mind and gain wisdom and knowledge about the divine and self.
Ishvarapranidhana: This is complete surrender to the will of God by admitting and believing in mind, spirit and bodies His complete influence over the self.
Adhama Adhikari: This is the lowest kind of aspirant and is prescribed the path of Ashtang yoga. Ashtang yoga is the eight limbed practice of yoga. These are:
Yama: Practicing the eternal vows of Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacharya and Aparigraha.
Niyama: Observing the behaviour of Shoucha, Santosha, Tapas, Svadhayay, Ishvarapranidhana.
Asana: Doing the postures prescribed by yoga.
Pranayama: Practicing the control of vital prana.
Pratyahara: Detachment of senses.
Dharana: Practicing intense concentration.
Dhyana: Practicing meditation.
Samadhi: Attainment of state of merger with supreme consciousness.