– HH Sri Swami Satchidananda
Focuses on the physical aspects through asanas (postures), pranayama (breath control), bandhas, mudras, kriyas, yogic diet, and deep relaxation.
Raja Yoga is a practical guide for gaining control over the mind. The second sutra in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras states, “Yogas chitta vritti nirodhah,” or, “The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga.” Every thought, feeling, perception, or memory you may have causes a modification, or ripple, in the mind. It distorts and colors the mental mirror. If you can restrain the mind from forming into modifications, there will be no distortion, and you will experience your true Self.
Raja Yoga offers a very broad approach that takes into consideration all aspects of the individual—physical, emotional, mental, intellectual, and spiritual.
The aim of Raja Yoga is to make the mind clean and calm. When that is achieved, you feel that you have gone back, or you appear to have gone back, to your original state. You see a steady image and experience the Peace and Joy that is your true nature.
To understand your true nature, the mind must be quiet; otherwise it seems to distort the truth. This is easy to understand through an analogy. You are the Seer who wants to see itself. Just like in the case of your physical face, to see your Self, you need a mirror. The mind is the mirror. The Self is reflected on the mirror of the mind. If the mirror gets distorted or disturbed, you see a disturbed image. You identify with the image and feel that you are disturbed. So, even though the true you, the Self, is always the same, you appear to be distorted or mixed up with the mind.
The path of devotion, by constant love, thought, and service of the Divine. Everyone can practice Bhakti Yoga. All that is needed is faith and constant remembrance of God.
Bhakti elevates the mind to supreme heights and is the master key to open the chambers of wisdom. Bhakti culminates in Jnana. Bhakti begins in two and ends in one.
The term ‘Bhakti’ comes from the root ‘Bhaj’ which means ‘to be attached to God.’ Bhakti is the form of supreme love towards God. It is love for love’s sake. It is the spontaneous outpouring of is pure unselfish love.
The path of action and selfless service. Serving without attachment to the fruits (or results) of the action.
From morning to evening you are doing some action, so everything can be Karma Yoga. Everything should be yogic; from the minute you start brushing your teeth to the minute you go to bed. For Karma Yoga there is no time limit, every time is the right time. You can do it anywhere: inside the church, outside the church, in the street, at home, on the train, on the plane, wherever you are. You become a constant practitioner. You are a yogi throughout the day, throughout your life.
Through Karma Yoga your heart, mind and body will soon be cleaned. It even takes care of your health. When you serve well, you get real hunger; you eat well, you digest well, and you sleep well. There’s peace in the mind and ease in the body.
You watch your feelings and your mind. It’s a mental training program.
Jnana Yoga is the path of wisdom. It is suitable for people of an intellectual and analytical nature. A Jnani Yogi acts with the feeling, “I am not the doer; Nature is doing everything. The body and mind are moving among the objects. I am the silent witness of all that is happening. The Jnana Yogi constantly discriminates between the unreal and the Real, the not-Self and the Self. This path requires a sharp and subtle intellect and a one-pointed mind.
Jnana Yoga is the Yoga of Wisdom. In this practice you simply sit and analyze everything that has happened and everything that is happening. That way you detach yourself and rise above your limitations. “Who am I? How do I know all these things? I know that I am disturbed. Yet my knowing doesn’t seem to get disturbed. If I am disturbed, who is it that knows something is disturbed in me?”
This knowing is called awareness or consciousness. The true person, the true you is constantly the same because there is no change in that knowing. You knew you were a child. Now you know that you are an adult, and you know you are going to be an old man or an old woman. The knowledge of childhood, adulthood, and old age is the same. You are not really isolated or separated. You are only temporarily identifying yourself as the body. If I ask you what you are doing, you can say, “I am sitting down,” but you are not sitting. Your body is seated. When you say, “I fell down,” who is this “I”? Certainly not the real I. The differences of the body make your mind feel different, and you identify yourself as the body.
This self-analysis can solve all your problems. You are not your body. You are not your mind because you are the one who is observing them. Whatever it is that is bothering you – anything at all – sit back and ask yourself, “What did I do? What mistakes have I made? Where was I selfish?” When you analyze in this way you will see that your happiness does not come from outside you. Your mind and body continue to go through some changes, but knowing doesn’t change. The peaceful nature is never affected. Only when you forget and identify yourself with the body or the mind do the clouds come and block your view of the sun – the true Self. The sun is always shining whether the clouds are there or not. The mind may pass through some of these cloudy periods, but as the Knower, you can enjoy the show. Enjoy the mind and its play.