Yoga, Raja (Meditation) Yoga, Hatha Yoga
- Now I proceed to explain the system of yoga philosophy in brief and
bring home to the readers the salient and vital points in the yogic
system. Yoga teaches how to control the vrttis (thought-waves) of the
mind and get freedom. Yoga teaches how to curb the outgoing mind and
attain one's pure state of bliss by going beyond the mind. Yoga
teaches how to transmute the unregenerate nature and attain the state
of divinity. Yoga is a complete suppression of the tendency of the -
mind to transform itself into objects, thoughts, etc.
Raja yoga is an exact science. One can ascend the yogic ladder
patiently through its different rungs. The highest summit of the
ladder is asamprajnata samadhi (superconsciousness), wherein all the
samskaras (mental impressions), which bring about successive births,
are absolutely fried up. The eight limbs of astanga yoga are: yama
(self-restraint), niyama (religious observances or canons), asana
(posture), pranayama (restraint of breath), pratyahara (abstraction
of senses), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi
This is one kind of classification of yoga: karma, upasana, raja yoga
and jnana. This is yogatraya (three-fold yoga). Upasana is bhakti.
Another classification is mantra yoga, laya yoga, hatha yoga and raja
yoga. Mantra yoga is recitation of mantras as "Om Namah Sivaya"
of Lord Siva, "Om Namo Narayanaya" of Lord Vishnu, Gayatri, etc. Laya
yoga is kundalini yoga. Nada anusadhana (concentration on anahata
sounds of heart) is also laya yoga. Laya means dissolution. The mind
is dissolved in God.
Hatha yoga relates to the restraint of breath (pranayama), Asanas,
bandhas, mudras, etc. 'Ha' and `Tha' means the union of sun
and moon, union of prana and apana. Hatha means any obstinate
practice till the object or end is achieved. Hatha is sticking to
some spiritual practices. Mauna (vow of silence), trataka (steady
gazing), crystal-gazing, standing on one leg ( a kind of austerity)
etc., are all hatha practices. Hatha yoga is not separate from raja
yoga. It prepares the student to take up raja yoga. Hatha yoga is
concerned with the breath (prana) and the physical body. Pranayama
purifies the pranamaya kosa (vital sheath).
By Swami Sivananda