According to Swami Vivekanada and the Bhagavad Gita, this is the "royal path", or highest path, to God-union. Raja Yoga teaches meditation as the ultimate means for realizing God, and incorporates the highest essentials from all other forms of yoga. Also known as "Classical Yoga", the "King of Yogas", or "Yoga of the Mind", Raja Yoga is the noblest of all yogas and can be practiced systematically by anyone, regardless of current spiritual status or type of personality.
Chariji says that because the mind is "kingly" in the human being, we use the mind to regulate the mind and thereby, to transform the heart, the "landing ground" of all thoughts: "In Raja Yoga, it is the mind that we use, it is the mind that we master, and it is the mind that we apply."
According to Babuji, "It is Raja Yoga and Raja Yoga alone that can lead you to the Ultimate Goal, or the highest point of human approach. No other practice can bring forth such results. It is, therefore, essential to have recourse to this science if you aim at the highest point."
Ashtanga Yoga of Patanjali
Also known as the Eight-Fold Path of Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga is synonymous with Raja Yoga and is a complete science in itself. As codified by Sage Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras (consisting of 195 sutras or aphorisms), the principles of this yogic path are systematically outlined and divided into the following eight (ashta) limbs (anga):
1. YAMA (Self-restraint): Moral and ethical proscriptions that describe the code of personal conduct.
- Non-violence (ahimsa)
- Truthfulness (satya)
- Non-stealing (asteya)
- Chastity (brahmacharya)
- Greedlessness (aparigraha)
2. NIYAMA (Binding Observances): While yama deals with our attitudes toward our environment, niyama deals with our attitude towards ourselves. To develop self-discipline, niyama stresses that the following moral and spiritual precepts should be observed:
- Purity or cleanliness (shaucha) — both internal and external
- Contentment (santosha)
- Asceticism or austerity (tapas)
- Self-study (swadhyaya)
- Devotion to God (ishwara-pranidhana)
3. ASANA (Bodily Posture): Meditation posture through which one learns to still the body and mind because where motion ceases, there begins the perception of God. Sage Patanjali clarifies that the asana should be a steady, comfortable posture; in other words, it can be any posture in which the aspirant can be both alert and relaxed at the same time.
4. PRANAYAMA (Breath Control): This is control of the vital life force (prana) beneficial to both body and mind, by regulating the movements of inhalation and exhalation.
5. PRATYAHARA (Sense-withdrawal): Interiorization of the mind by consciously turning the five senses inwards until there are no physical distractions.
6. DHARANA (Concentration): Concentrating mentally on a single focal point — place, object, or idea — with steadfastness.
7. DHYANA (Meditation on the Divine): Focusing attention on the divine until one is absorbed. It can be also defined as the continuous, uninterrupted flow of consciousness towards the chosen object. (We begin directly with dhyana in Sahaj Marg.)
8. SAMADHI (Union with the Divine): The state in which the yogi is completely merged with his higher Self and the mind is no longer involved in the process. (In Sahaj Marg, it is the return to the original condition, that which reigned in the beginning.)