Raja Yoga means “the royal path” and focuses on the eight branches and steps to personal evolution. This style of yoga incorporates pieces of Ashtanga and Hatha yoga into its practice. The higher levels of Raja Yoga work toward finding a state of oneness but to reach that moment you must first prepare yourself with routine yoga practice and asanas from Hatha Yoga. Yoga teacher training will guide you to know which asanas will help you establish the best outcome for your practice.
Meditation is a huge part of Raja Yoga and the lotus pose is the preferred position while practicing your meditation. When practicing this pose your yoga teacher will be explaining that this pose is used for flexibility as well as discipline. The lotus pose is an extreme pose and you should always make sure to asking your yoga teacher for any help with modification and foundation poses if you suffer from knee pain. You should never force any yoga pose.
To practice this pose you should begin in a sitting position with your legs out in front of you. Slowly bend your right knee and use your hands to help place the outside part of your right foot into the crease of your left leg where your thigh meets your torso. Then press your leg into the floor. Repeat this step with your left knee; bring the left calf over and across your right calf. Yoga teacher training will make a point of telling you at this point you should be sitting up straight and allow your body to feel your sit-bones press into the floor. Bring your hands to relax on your lap with both palms facing the ceiling or resting on your knees. This is up to you and if you wish you can make your favorite mudra with your fingers.
Meditation is best taught by someone that has gone through yoga certification, but if you want to practice raja yoga you can begin to focus on your meditation and develop your practice by using meditative exercises. One exercise that you can practice is to be sitting in the lotus pose and completely clear your mind. You can begin to use mantras to keep your mind focused. You should be able to ignore any other thoughts that come into mind. You could also think” my mind is filled with peace and I bring peace to the world.” There are other phrases that can be used that mean more to each of us in our own practice.
Yoga teacher training will also focus on other exercises that you can use which are the 12 basic asanas of Hatha yoga. Asanas are the personal connection of what most people will reference when they hear the term yoga. These are the positions that you practice and move through and hold while you practice your breathing. Asanas are responsible for improving your flexibility, health, and above all your physical, mental and spiritual connections to yourself and the divine. The 12 basic asanas that are the elements to hatha yoga are the headstand, shoulder stand, fish, plough, cobra, sitting forward bend, locust, spinal twist, bow, peacock, and triangle and standing forward bend. Ideally and with a routine practice you should be performing these daily.
Yamas and Niyamas
Yoga teacher training will have you study these terms and what they stand for. The yamas and Niyamas are what we refer to as the Do’s and Don’ts of following a yogic lifestyle. Every day we should remind ourselves to follow and practice non-violence, truthfulness, purity of thought and action, moderation, contentment and austerity. If we can look at our lives and how we portray ourselves it should be easy to recognize that we follow the yogic believe system. We should also be familiar with sacred yogic texts as well as following these basic principles.