Raja Yoga is the Yoga of growth and development through mental discipline. Patanjali
is the highest authority on Raja Yoga. Of all the other Y ogas, only Raja Yoga has
prescribed eight steps to practise in a scientific manner for physical, mental and
The first step is Yama (social virtues) that deals with:
(a) Ahimsa (non-violence)
(b) Sathya (truthfulness)
(c) Asteya (non-stealing)
(d) Brahmacharya (continence)
(e) Aparigraha (unselfishness)
The second step is Niyama (personal virtues), which insists on:
(f) Soucha (purity of body and mind)
(g) Santosha (contentment)
(h) Tapas (austerity)
(i) Swadhyaya (self-study and improvement)
(j) Ishwara Pranidhana (self-surrender to God)
Yama and Niyama could be considered the Ten Commandments of Yoga meant for controlling
the passions and emotions of a person and thereby paving the way for practise of
higher levels of Yoga.
The third step is Asana, which refers to body postures, and physical exercises to
restore and refresh the body by better circulation of blood, more effective breathing
and muscular relaxation.
The fourth step is Pranayama. It refers to Yogic exercises of breath control used
to relax the body and thus recharge the body's batteries. Prana is the generalised
manifestation of all forces and power in the universe. Pranayama, therefore, refers
to certain exercises through which every part of the body is filled with Prana and
from this vital force a certain amount of power is generated in the body. Through
Pranayama one is able to exert complete control over his body, mind and emotions.
The fifth step is Prathiyahara. It is control of the senses, the intentional withdrawal
from sights, sounds, smells and feelings of the external world, and selective inattention
to the senses.
The sixth step is Dharna. It is deep, unrestricted, pinpointed concentration of
the mind on a particular object or idea.
The seventh step is Dhyana, which is meditative awareness. For instance, there is
a steady flow when oil is poured from one vessel to another; when the flow of concentration
(Dharna) is uninterrupted, the state that arises is Dhyana (meditation).
The last step in Raja Yoga is Samadhi, the highest level of meditation and the supreme
goal of Yoga. It is oneness - union with the Self (the Divine). In the state of
Samadhi, the body and senses are at rest as if one is asleep but at the same time,
the faculties of mind and reason are fully alert, like when one is wide-awake.