The Greater Yoga Tradition
For many people Yoga is most often associated with the physical practice of Hatha Yoga or yoga postures. While Hatha Yoga is an important part of Yoga it is but one step of the larger yogic practice which is known as RajYoga (royal yoga or union).
Each step of RajYoga prepares the aspirant for the ultimate goal of Yoga which is samadhi, enlightenment or Self-Realization. The philosophy and practice of Raj Yoga transcends the teachings and scope of many styles of physical yoga offered today. Raj Yoga is a complete spiritual practice that emphasizes the benefits of “right living” (yamas and niyamas), yoga postures (asana), breath control, (pranayama), withdrawal of the mind from the senses (pratyahara), concentration (dharana), and meditation (dhyana & samadhi).
Hinduism and Buddhism
RajYoga’s greatest proponent was the 5th century Sage, Pantanjali, who compiled many of ancient yogic teachings (sutras) into what is now known as the Yoga Sutras of Pantajali. Modern practitioners of Buddhism will also recognize these eight steps as being a familiar part of their own eightfold path as well:
1. Yamas: Ahimsa (non-injury), Satya (truth), Asetya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (self-restraint), Apragraha (non-greed)
2. Niyamas: Susha (purity), Santosha (contentment), Tapas (austerity), Svadhaya (study of the scriptures), Ishvara Pranidhana (surrender to God)
3. Asana: Steady pose, posture or seat
4. Pranayama: control of vital energy through breathwork
5. Pratyahara: Withdrawal of the mind from the senses
6. Dharana: concentration of the mind
7. Dhyana: Meditation
8. Samadhi: Enlightenment, union with the Divine
Benefits of Integrating Ayurveda with RajYoga
By integrating the health principles of Ayurveda with practices of RajYoga, traditional yoga practitioners can experience the benefits of the larger Yogic system that they are part of…a complete spiritual system that creates balance in mind, body and spirit.