The Four Basic Systems of Yoga - Part 3
Robert Elias Najemy
This is Part 3 of a 3-part series of articles. See Part
1 and Part 2.
4. RAJA YOGA is the path of gradual control over one's self
through the development of discipline and will-power. It is
a system that is useful to any one, even if he chooses to
follow the other paths. It offers techniques for the harmonization
and eventual mastery of the body, breath, emotions, senses
and mind. Whatever we do in life, we do it with our body and
our mind. So our efficiency in every action, in every effort
is improved when the quality of the body and mind are improved
and our control over them is increased.
Now, most of us have practically no control over our minds.
We cannot relax, cannot concentrate, we cannot overcome obstacles
such as tiredness, lack of energy, illness, negative reactions
to heat and cold, emotional tensions, fear as well as our
subconscious conditioning. Few people are masters of themselves
and have control over their bodies, their mind, or their lives.
The Raja yogi gains control in a step by step process starting
with the most material aspect of our existence, the body,
and slowly working towards the more subtle, the mind. These
are called the 8 steps of Raja Yoga. We will list them briefly
here and then discuss them in detail later in the book.
a) CONTROL OF BEHAVIOR is recommended for the individual
who wants to become the master of himself. The key to all
individual and social harmony is to "do to others as we would
like others to do to us, and not to do to others anything
we would not like them to do to us". If a person follows this
one recipe for life, then he will have inner peace. His mind
will be at ease knowing that there is consistency between
his beliefs, his words and his actions. Thus the following
five requirements are asked of the Raja yogi:
1. Not to consciously harm any being, with his thoughts, words
2. To always speak the truth.
3. Never to take anything which does not lawfully belong to
him through his honest work.
4. Not to envy or feel jealousy for what others have, but
to be happy for them.
5. Not to unnecessarily waste energy on sexual activity either
mentally or physically.
b) DEVELOPMENT OF DISCIPLINE is the second requirement
of this path. He is asked to discipline himself in the various
1. The practice of various austerities and vows such as fasting,
occasional silence, and in general the practice of a simple
life without many unnecessary comforts, which weaken one's
body and mind.
2. To maintain purity of the body and mind.
3. To worship God daily in his chosen way.
4. To study the truth of himself both as a personality and
as a soul, through self-observation, reading and discussion.
5. To practice contentment. To learn to be at peace with himself,
accepting what life has given him and not to be greedy for
more and more material possessions.
The first two steps of Raja Yoga remind us to a certain degree
of the Ten Commandments. They are guidelines which are found
in all spiritual paths and help to set a safe and stable foundation
for the spiritual structure which we are about to build. If
the foundation is not well formed we could have problems later
as we begin to increase the energy and power flowing through
our bodies and minds.
c) CONTROL OF THE BODY is then developed through the
use of specific exercises, some dynamic and others static.
Breath control and deep relaxation are also used in this stage
so as to develop the strength of the nervous system and harmonize
the endocrine system. This is very necessary in order to succeed
in the advanced stages of mastery of the emotional and mental
energies. These exercises and techniques are also used today
for therapy. The goal here is to develop a healthy and strong
body that will not obstruct us in our daily life or in our
d) CONTROL OF THE BIOENERGY is then achieved through
the mastery of certain advanced breathing techniques in conjunction
with concentration on energy centers in the body. This produces
an excellent state of health and vitality and facilitates
the eventual control of the mind. The breath, bioenergy and
mind are very much interconnected. These techniques are very
useful for learning to master the emotions, but are also dangerous
to be practiced without expert guidance.
e) DETACHMENT FROM THE SENSES is now necessary as the
mind is usually at the mercy of the various sense inputs,
which are bombarding the eyes, ears and other sense organs.
One learns to disconnect the mind from the incoming sense
messages and allow them to go directly into the subconscious
without disturbing the conscious mind, so that one can concentrate
on what one is doing. This frequently happens involuntarily
as a result of intense concentration on some creative activity,
i.e. painting, dancing, singing, playing music, gardening,
f) CONCENTRATION OF THE MIND ON A SINGLE POINT.
g) MEDITATION ON A CHOSEN OBJECT OF CONSCIOUSNESS.
h) ECSTASY OR UNION WITH THE OBJECT OF CONCENTRATION -
The first five steps are called outer yoga, because they have
to do with the control of factors outside of the mind. The
last three steps are called inner yoga, because they have
to do with the control of the mind itself. These steps will
be explained in much more detail later in this book.
Simplified, the last three steps have to do with learning
to hold the mind on one object of concentration for a long
time. Then one begins to experience deepening levels of that
object until one experiences a oneness with that object. For
example, we might start by concentrating on the name and form
of Jesus the Christ.
After some intense practice we will begin to feel Christ not
as a man, with a form, but as an energy, as light, as a consciousness,
as a vibration, as the Logos. In the final step we will lose
our sense of self, our sense of individuality, separateness
and there will be only the Christ consciousness. We will have
then merged into unity with Christ. Thus, we can see that
yoga has something different to offer to each individual according
to his own needs, desires and goals. It also seems apparent
that it has much to offer to our society in terms of increasing
the quality of health, mental peace, productivity, and the
unity and harmony of the society as a whole. It seems only
logical that such a system, modified to suit specific needs,
could start to be introduced in schools, offices, acting and
musical companies, scientific research center and various
private and government organizations, as is already being
done so to some extent in America, Europe and Australia.
Now that we understand that meditation is the seventh step
of one of the four major paths of spiritual growth, let us
go on to discuss in more detail what meditation is and how
it can be used.
See articles on Understanding
Meditation Through Models, by the same author.
Robert E. Najemy, author of 25 books and life coach
with 30 years of experience, has trained over 300 life coaches
and now does so over the Internet. Become a life coach. Over
600 free article and lectures at www.HolisticHarmony.com