In the Raja Yoga Training Module 1 (asana and pranayama), Swami Niranjanananda covered a wide spectrum of topics. He said that the focus and intent of raja yoga was given in the second sutra of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras: chitta vritti nirodah. The purpose of raja yoga is not meditation but the improvement of the mind.
Without the preparation of hatha yoga, however, raja yoga cannot be practised. The body must be able to maintain a posture for a long period with ease. The definition of asana in raja yoga is sthiram-sukham – “still and comfortable”. Swamiji emphasized that one has to go beyond one’s comfort level and train the body to reach this goal.
The two angas or limbs of raja yoga, pratyahara and dharana, are the practices and states that can be attained by the aspirant. Yamas, niyamas, asana and pranayama are the support system which facilitates the attainment of these two states.
The disciplines of raja yoga fulfil two objectives: stilling the chatter of the dissipated mind, and clearing the three layers of pratyayas: the karmas, samskaras and impressions. After the process of clearing and emptying, it is equally important to fill the vacuum with positive qualities and attitudes. Here through the practice of pratipaksha bhavana one can increase one’s connection with positivity.
Speaking on the antahkarana, Swamiji gave a new understanding of manas, buddhi, chitta and ahamkara and how they are being expressed according to the predominant guna. Many concepts of raja yoga were defined in a clear, precise and practical manner, so that they become relevant and applicable in daily life.
Every yoga journey begins with happiness, manah prasad and ends in bliss, ananda. The aspirant has to hold on to the string of happiness and move to the state of bliss.
The Raja Yoga Training along with seva in the ashram has created a clearer state of mind. It was not at all that I expected. It was better. Body and mind is energized and there is enthusiasm. I shall establish a routine at home when I am back so that the practice can take place. Antar mouna will be added daily to allow unbeneficial pratyayas to move away. Thank you for leading me to the sankalpa of positivity.
—Naomi Lossin, Israel
In this course the challenge, gently given but clear and strong, stated: Shall we stay as we are in the shadow of our accumulated images and live in the fantasy of yoga or are we willing to truly complete the hatha yoga process so that we can take hold of the tools of raja yoga and allow them to bring the change and transformation of the mind – our views, attitude, perception, and behaviour – that will lead us to a newer, happier, more harmonious and useful life, to a connected life.
Swamiji emphasized the process that is raja yoga: a gradual becoming and flowing into the next stage. By guiding our eyes and vision in how to perceive the components, their connection and interconnection, the methods, until now flat and one dimensional, became vibrant, real and practical tools. Yoga can become a 24/7 experience with eyes open and closed.
—Swami Yogajyoti, Ireland
What I had experienced as yoga before coming to the raja yoga training was something like pieces of a puzzle, offering limited understanding. After this training, I feel that the pieces of the puzzle begin to find their place, forming a more coherent and comprehensive image that I hope will continue to guide and inspire me.