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IMGCA Article - The Mental Game of Yoga


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 or deeds.

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 ways:

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 spiritual quest.

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, knitting etc.




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

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