Raja Yoga: A Lifestyle for a New Age

Raja yoga is not a sectarian practice, nor yet a specialized form of yoga. Raja yoga refers to the entire body of psycho-physiological practices which relax and purify the body (tissues, organs and nervous system), calm the mind, and awaken us to our higher nature. These practices have come to us from ancient times, indeed from a higher age in which the subtleties of both nature and of consciousness were more easily perceived by humans and which have, down through the ages, been perfected by great rishis (sages).

In his now famous life story, “Autobiography of a Yogi,” Paramhansa Yogananda describes raja yoga as “a method for restraining the natural turbulence of thoughts, which otherwise impartially prevent all men, of all lands, from glimpsing their true nature of Spirit. [Raja] Yoga cannot know a barrier of East and West any more than does the healing and equitable light of the sun. So long as man possesses a mind with its restless thoughts, so long will there be a universal need for yoga or control.”

In the popular course at Ananda (also offered at East West Bookshop in Seattle) known as the Raja Yoga Intensive, we study the text, “Art and Science of Raja Yoga,” which has become a classic and is based on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. It was written by Ananda’s founder, Swami Kriyananda, who is a direct disciple of Yogananda. The content of the course has its roots in the material Yogananda used in the public classes he gave in cities throughout the United States many years ago.

Raja yoga is a lifestyle because it embraces attitudes and precepts as well as specific daily disciplines. A complete regiment is given for health of the body, concentration of the mind, intuition of the heart, and the awakening of the soul’s bliss nature. Raja yoga is thus life transforming.

Vegetarianism is encouraged but not required; the yoga postures (hatha yoga) are part of the Intensive and considered very helpful for both physical and mental health and as a preparation meditation. Recipes for vegetarian dishes are included as are ways to use specific yoga postures for healing purposes.

Meditation is at the center of raja yoga. While the precepts of both Shankhya and Vedanta philosophy are intertwined with the practice of raja yoga, there is no precondition or expectation of belief or affiliation needed to gain the benefits of the raja yoga practices.* The daily practice of yoga is “sufficient unto the day” to reveal to us the intuitive promptings of our own higher Self.

Yoga is for everyone! To learn more, visit http://anandaseattle.org/raja, or stop by or call us at (425) 806-3700.

Blessings to you, Nayaswami Hriman

* Shankhya is that body of wisdom which describes how the outer forms of creation veil their underlying and unifying reality of energy and consciousness. Vedanta describes the ultimate Reality of God as transcendent Bliss, beyond the dualities and unceasing flux of creation.

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