May 25, 2023

Book Review: Raja Yoga Yatra I by Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

 I asked myself, "When was the last time you started and finished a book as soon as it arrived? When was the last time you couldn't contain your excitement that you had to read a book cover to cover immediately?".

The answer I got was "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" back in 2007.

After 16 years, I felt a similar excitement when this book "Raja Yoga Yatra I: Understanding Asana and Pratyahara" arrived a couple of days back.

As I wrote in a book review earlier, I'm curious to learn more about Pratyahara, the 5th limb of Raja Yoga. While searching for books that cover this topic, I stumbled upon this title on Amazon, a booklet of 80 pages.

The author starts by explaining the wheel of yoga called the Yoga chakra with the six spokes.

Hatha yoga, raja yoga and kriya yoga represent the experiential aspect of Yoga, whereas karma yoga, bhakti yoga and jnana yoga represent the expressive aspect of Yoga.

We experience internal change and transformation first and using the awakened faculties, we express ourselves in the outer dimension.

Hatha yoga helps one towards purification and detoxification of the body. The annamaya kosha (physical body) and pranamaya kosha (energy body) are brought to balance through the practices of Hatha yoga. One proceeds to Raja yoga after a certain balance is reached through Hatha yoga.

The purpose of Raja Yoga is conveyed as chitta vritti nirodhah - managing the disturbances of the mind. Raja yoga helps to rule over the mind and it deals with manomaya and vijnanamaya koshas. Yamas and Niyamas are important practices for the mind, without which reaching the states of dharana or dhyana is impossible.

The distinction brought up concerning asana practice in Hatha yoga vs Raja yoga was eye-opening. In Raja yoga, asanas are primarily focused on stability and comfort to deepen one's mental experience.

Our consciousness is built through our cognition and perception of the past, retained in chitta. This storehouse becomes the cause for our present disturbances. These impressions (Pratyayas) are brought out and cleared through pratyahara. The three practices of Yoga Nidra, Antar Mouna and Ajapa Japa are briefly summarized.

So many aha moments in the book that gave new perspectives:

The explanation - Prati+ahara => reverse consumption - where the mind feeds the senses

The interactions of the three gunas on ahamkara, chitta and manas

The four attitudes that help to keep the chitta happy

The active drashta state - active observation as a witness and modifying

Difference between compassion and empathy

Why yoga doesn't recommend being a world reformist

Doership and its connection to freewill and destiny

These booklets are helping me realize that my journey into learning Yoga philosophy has just begun and there is a long way to go. Feeling excited and curious!

Blog Archive

All contents copyrighted by Anuradha Sridharan, 2023. Don't copy without giving credits. Powered by Blogger.