Raja yoga is also known as Ashtanga yoga. Many sources call it “Royal yoga”, as it is directly related to the practice of mind control. We instinctively believe that the mind is the “king” of our entire organism. It voluntarily or unwittingly obeys the orders of the mind and is under its constant vigilant attention.
Raja yoga is aimed at working with the human mind; therefore, it is one of the most important direction. Since the human body and mind are in constant and inseparable connection, to influence the state of mind, you need to learn how to perfectly manage the body. At this stage, many beginners practicing yoga make major mistakes, namely they pay too much attention to body practices, limiting spiritual ones, for example, meditation or breathing exercises. In fact, in raja yoga, all stages are extremely important, because only by learning how to control your body and psycho-emotional manifestations, you can hope to move on to the mind control.
Ashtanga yoga includes eight stages or levels (eightfold path). This is exactly why raja yoga is often called ashtanga yoga (ashtanga means eight steps):
Yama – ethical rules of behavior;
Niyama – spiritual practices and self-discipline;
Asana – special exercises to harmonize the mind and body;
Pranayama – control of breathing;
Pratyahara – distraction from external influences;
Dharana – concentration;
Dhyana – meditation or contemplation;
Samadhi – pacification, enlightenment.
Only after passing through all these eight steps, you can truly master the raja yoga. At the same time, each stage is very important. We can’t omit it or exclude, since together they are an ultimate holistic approach to yoga and life.