Philosophy of Raja Yoga

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  • Topic: Yoga, Raja Yoga, Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
  • Pages : 4 (1212 words )
  • Download(s) : 107
  • Published : April 21, 2012
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Philosophy of Raja Yoga
For many in the West, yoga is simply just a part of your workout plan, a means of strengthening the body, curing body ailments, and improving flexibility. As we review the philosophy of yoga we’ll find that it is "much more than a system of physical exercise for health, Yoga is . . . an ancient path to spiritual growth." (Raphael) The word yoga is related to the English word yoke. A yoke is a wooden plank custom fitted on cattle to help them pull the load. The same way the yoke is unifying the cattle to the beam, yoga is the union of body, mind and spirit. (Chopra ix) We first find traces of yoga in ancient texts dating back to 500 B.C where they speak of uniting “the light within you with the light of Brahman”. There are four main forms of yoga Gyan, Bhakti, Karma, and Raja, all which we have covered in class, but I will only go into detail about Raja yoga. It wasn’t until the work of Maharishi Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras that we come to see the main philosophy of Raja yoga as it stands now. (Chopra 23) Legend has it that Patanjali’s mother, Gonnika, was praying to Lord Vishnu and that he was so moved by her devotion that Vishnu asked the cosmic serpent, Ananta, to prepare for human incarnation. A speck of Ananta’s cosmic seed fell into Gonnika’s hand, she nurtured this cosmic seed, which then soon developed into a baby boy. Quite similar to the Christian story of the Virgin Mary and the birth of Jesus, Gonnika named her child Patanjali from the root word pat meaning “descended from heaven” and Anjali the word for praying posture. Patanjali set up a system of eight branches of Raja each meant to get you closer to unification with Brahman, they are: Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. (Chapra 47) I will briefly discuss all eight branches and how it compares to some catholic beliefs. The first branch of yoga, Yama, deals with how you interact with others. These social rules include practicing...
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