Raja yoga, the royal path of mind control, is the most comprehensive and scientific approach to God-Realization. The precepts and doctrines of this ancient science were first compiled and explained by Patanjali Mahirishi, the greatest psychologist of all time. Never has a man’s mind been so completely analyzed. Never has a process for eliminating human woes and frailties been so succinctly presented. The methods of Raja Yoga are profound and timeless. Though of ancient origin, they are still the most useful technique available to modern man beset by the tremendous stresses and strains of competitive society.

Raja Yoga is sometimes called Ashtanga Yoga, or the Yoga of eight limbs. Yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi are the eight limbs. They translate as self-restraints, observances, postures, regulation of breath, withdrawal of the mind from sense objects, concentration, meditation and the superconscious state.

The yamas, or abstentions, make up the most basic of all spiritual practices. These forms of self-restraint purify the individual and eliminate all of one’s negative influences on others and the environment. The yamas consist of non-injury, truthfulness, non-stealing, continence, and non-acquisitiveness.

The niyamas are observances which cultivate positive qualities. They involve purification, stilling the mind, self-discipline, inquiry into the nature of the Self, and surrendering the personal will, or ego, to the Supreme will. The niyamas consist of cleanliness, contentment, austerity, self-study and self-surrender.

Meditation and Mantras
by Swami Vishnu-Devananda