Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Raja Yoga path

This is the karma route. So what is next?
To Chennai via panurutti.
The Raja Yoga path:
Yoga means to join. Raja yoga is also referred to as ashtanga yoga. There are eight steps in it. Let us first list them though we may not understand them now.
* Yama – This is not the one responsible for taking us away when the time is up! It means - code of conduct, self-restraint
* Niyama –This is not opposite of yama. It means - religious observances, commitments to practice, such as study and devotion
* Āsana – This is the world renowned yoga asanas. It is integration of mind and body through physical activity
* Pranayama – Also popular these days. It is regulation of breath leading to integration of mind and body. It is not just filling your lungs fully to get air into all the alveoli to get good oxygenation but something more.
* Pratyahara – abstraction of the senses, withdrawal of the senses of perception from their objects. In simpler terms not allowing the senses to run after what they enjoy.
* Dharana – concentration, one-pointedness of mind
* Dhyana – meditation, letting the mind wander only around one object. (quiet activity that leads to samadhi)
* Samādhi – the quiet state of blissful awareness, superconscious state.

Re yogasana one might find it difficult to believe that mind and body can influence each other.
It is not really difficult to see that it can.
It is quite common to see people who undergo a lot of tension. Unless some measure is taken to relieve it, it will accumulate. This will manifest in several ways. Commonest is constipation. It can also manifest as lose motions, rashes all over body, changes in appetite etc. One goes to the doctor and he says there is nothing wrong with you. The sufferer gets angry because it is he who is suffering! The doctor meant that nothing is wrong with you physically. It is the work of mind. Find a way to release that tension and everything is alright!
Similarly when one is running a high fever, or has a very painful physical ailment the mind gets depressed.
We can use this fact to handle our stress. Here is an example. Harmless of course!
Just lie down comfortably. Then tighten all your muscle, the entire body hold for a few seconds and then let go. Start breathing deeply in and out, watch the breathing, watch the abdomen and chest moving with the breath. Start counting backwards from 32 with each breath. 32…31…30… and so on. When you reach zero it is most likely that you are well relaxed. Keep that state for a few minutes. You may repeat it as many times as needed taking into account how much time is available.
For a more detailed course look here:
I have used to do this with the help of a cassette long back and found it effective. Now they are charging Rs. 1500 for a two day course.
A word about pranayama too. Don’t ever take it lightly and start practicing on your own! It could be very dangerous. In fact none of the raja yoga components are to be taken lightly. One needs to practice under a guru who has had good training. Otherwise things may turn out to be very difficult as it happened to one of my acquaintances……

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