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Understanding The 5 Yamas For Gaining Self-Awareness And Inner Peace

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The 5 Yamas are the first limb of the ‘Eight Limbs of Yoga’ originating from the ancient philosophical text, ‘The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali’. By practicing the 5 Yamas you gain self-awareness, transform negative energy into positive, and cultivate a deep sense of inner peace. In this article, I will introduce you to the 5 Yamas and give you some practical tips on how you can integrate them into your life!

8 Limbs of Yoga

There are 8 limbs of yoga, and Yama is the first limb.

The first limb: YAMA

Yama is a set of ethical norms that teaches us to communicate with others in the right way. To be brief, it means one thing: treat people the way you want them to treat you. By practicing the 5 Yamas you gain self-awareness, transform negative energy into positive, and cultivate a deep sense of inner peace.

The second limb: NIYAMA

The step of forming the self-discipline and uplifting spirituality. This step involves regular visits to temples, meditative practices, a study of nature, thinking and walks.

The third limb: ASANA

Asana means ‘posture’ or ‘pose’. So by saying ‘asanas’ we mean body poses. Yoga practitioners know that our physical bodies are temples for our souls. Body care is one of the most important stages on the path to spiritual growth and enlightenment. Performing certain asanas, a person learns concentration and self-discipline.

The fourth limb: PRANAYAMA

Pranayama for Beginners Image

Pranayama is the ability to control your breath. It is a set and a system of special techniques that make it possible to establish a relationship between breath, mind, and emotions. Literally, pranayama translates as ‘extension of the prana’ or ‘breath control”. Pranayama practice allows you to rejuvenate the entire body and prolong your lifespan. We can practice pranayama as a separate type of yoga technique, or use it as a component of the complex of yoga practice.

The fifth limb: PRATYAHARA

‘Pratyahara’ means ‘gaining mastery over external influences’.

The purpose of this limb is to achieve a state of the distraction of the senses from the surrounding reality and the circulation of the gaze and consciousness inside of you. In other words, pratyahara is the ability to concentrate and not be distracted by various external stimuli. This step gives you the vision of the internal systems, understanding what can stop your personal and inner growth.

The sixth limb: DHARANA

Dharana means ‘concentration’ or ‘single focus’. By concentrating and abstracting, we get distracted from external ‘noise’.  This is how we can calm down our minds, which distracts us from knowing more than we are able to understand. It helps us to see the limitless of our possibilities. At this stage, there is a skill to slow down the thought process by focusing on sound, image, energy or body.

The seventh limb: DHYANA

Dhyana means ‘contemplation, reflection’ and ‘profound, abstract meditation’. This is the stage of the full development of the properties of meditation and concentration. Conscious inhibition of thought processes allows one to calm the mind, to feel serenity, not to give rise to new thoughts. To reach this stage, you need endurance and strength. For achieving this, you have to put in a lot of effort and time.

The eighth limb: SAMADHI

Osho Kundalini meditation 5 yamas image

Samadhi is a state of intense concentration that can be achieved through meditation. This is a state of bliss and understanding. On this stage, you extend the boundaries of your Self. You start feeling the connection between the divine origin and all living things, unity with nature and the world.

Samadhi is the highest stage of meditation, in which a person experiences oneness with the universe. In samadhi, the mind becomes still. You become totally aware of the present moment.

What Is Yama?

As you can see, Yama is the second limb of yoga.

Yamas represent a series of “right living” or ethical rules. It means “reining in” or “control”. These are restraints for Proper Conduct as given in the Holy Veda. The 5 Yamas are a form of moral imperatives, commandments, rules or goals.

The 5 Yamas are:

  1. Ahiṃsā (अहिंसा): nonviolence, non-harming other living beings.
  2. Satya (सत्य): truthfulness, non-falsehood.
  3. Asteya (अस्तेय): non-stealing.
  4. Aparigraha (अपरिग्रहः): non-avarice, non-possessiveness.
  5. Brahmacharya (ब्रह्मचर्य): chastity, marital fidelity or sexual restraint.

Mastering these 5 Yamas is necessary in order to practice niyamas, asanas, pranayama and all other stages of the “eight-step path of yoga”.

Now let’s take a deeper look at each of the 5 Yamas!

The 5 Yamas

Yama #1: Ahiṃsā

Meditation Quotes 5 yamas Image

As I already said, Ahimsa focuses on nonviolence, non-harming other living beings.

Ahimsa is similar to the biblical principle “Thou shalt not kill.” In yoga, however, this principle is more extensive. Ahimsa is the renunciation of violence against anyone or anything, including oneself and the natural order of the world.

Why is it so important to renounce violence? If we look at this principle more globally, the main problems on this planet are caused by violence. This applies to the Planet, animals, people and many other living beings, i.e. to nature as a whole. After all, our planet is the same living organism as all the others, only in a slightly different form. That is why it is necessary to have the right attitude to the world.

From the point of view of the law of karma, causing harm or violence to other living beings, we earn negative karma. Accordingly, the more people, for example, kill animals, the more negative karma they accumulate. And each individual karma eventually forms the collective karma of society, as a result of which everyone will suffer in one way or another. If we help others to understand the consequences of their actions, then the overall situation on the Planet will improve.

How to practice Ahimsa?

Practice being more kind, accepting, and forgiving of yourself and others. Stop eating animals, fish, eggs, and other products of murder. Buy only cruelty-free products that were not tested on animals. Recycle your trash so it won’t harm our planet. Stop buying and wearing leather, fur, silk, and other materials that were created as a result of killing. Start being more mindful of what you are investing your money in. Don’t sponsor violence, cruelty, murder, and harm.

Yama #2: Satya

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Satya focuses on truthfulness and non-falsehood.

“Truthfulness” means seeing and reporting things as they are rather than the way we would like them to be.

The importance of this prescription is obvious. When we are truthful to ourselves we can see the internal problems that exist, and, therefore, to make efforts to solve them. When we see a problem, it is easier for us to understand and choose the tool that will help solve it. Only when we are truthful with ourselves can we be truthful with others.

Perhaps some of you would ask: “Can we lie for good or saying a half-truth?” To begin with, in many Vedic Scriptures, the Buddha and many other sages of the past sometimes told only half-truths to the disciples. It is important to understand why they could do this. The fact is that their level of development allowed them to see all the karmic consequences of their words for the disciple. Therefore they could do it without hurting anyone. There are not too many people who can do the same nowadays. Most people still struggle to control their egos. And ego can blind anyone! That’s why it’s better not to experiment with karma and stay committed to truthfulness.

There is also the energy aspect of lies. Guided by false thoughts, deeds, and sayings, a person forms a reality that contradicts the objective reality. So with the help of the lies he/she says, he/she creates around him/her such an energy that after a while will make him/her see the world around him/her is not what it really is. Because of this, a person will constantly be making mistakes and experience confusion in life. His life eventually will turn into an illusion.

Moreover, according to karmic law, we always attract what we radiate. If you allow yourself to lie, you also give other people permission to lie to you.

However, by telling the truth you should always remember to follow the first Yama – Ahimsa (non-violence, non-harming). Don’t harm anyone by telling the truth.

For example, if a person is a thief and you know it, you can not hide this fact or lie about it! Otherwise, your lie or silence about it will harm others who will be robbed. Everything is pretty clear with this example.

Now let me give you another example. Many decades ago there was a Brahman who devoted his existence to the study of the Scriptures. Once, during his meditation, a cow ran by. Sometime later, the butcher who wanted to kill the cow came. He asked the Brahman which way the cow had run. Because the Brahman has been speaking only the truth all his life, as the Scriptures say, he showed the direction.

When the butcher overtook and killed the animal, the Brahman went to the hellish planets to be judged by Yamaraj. The Brahman did not understand why he was there. Yamaraj charged him that he was responsible for the death of the cow.

Living without lies is hard enough, especially if the truth hurts others. Lying is a distortion of reality, which entails certain consequences. It is important to learn how to present information so that it does not harm anyone. However, only a few who have reached certain heights in spiritual development can do so.

How to practice Satya?

In order for us to start practicing Satya, we need to learn to recognize the cascade of negative emotions that prompt us to twist reality. Once we have understood and processed those emotions, our thoughts, speech, and actions can be realigned with the truth, even as we look more deeply into our needs and desires. Outwardly, refrain from telling lies and speak with kindness, compassion, and clarity.

Yama #3: Asteya

Emotional Healing From Narcissistic Abuse Clear Boundaries Image

Asteya focuses on non-stealing. In other words, it is the renunciation of the desire to possess what does not belong to us.

Speaking of energy, it should be said that everything that a person has, in one way or another, is impregnated with his/her energy. A good example is clothing that carries the energy of the person who wore it. If a person stole something from someone, he undeservedly appropriated part of the vital energy of its owner. According to the law of conservation of energy, that loss must be replenished. And then the one who stole will suffer to compensate for the energy balance.

It is important to understand that suffering can manifest itself, both in this life and the next. The law of karma is absolute.

Usually, people associate stealing with tangible objects. However, intangibles, such as information and emotional favors, are more likely to be the objects stolen in our world.

How to practice Asteya?

Since the urge to steal arises from a sense of unhappiness, incompleteness, and envy, the solution is to practice giving any chance you get. Get involved in charity, get a volunteering job. Give food; give money; give time. Since abundance is ultimately a state of mind, you will feel increasingly abundant; and through selfless giving and serving, your sense of inner abundance may bring you outer wealth.

Yama #4: Aparigraha

Material Possessions Image

Aparigraha focuses on non-avarice and non-possessiveness.

This yoga principle teaches not to be attached to things. It is similar to the previous Yama, however, when practicing aparigraha you should not get attached to anything. In other words, you should follow the principle: “all the things of the world are yours to use, but not to own”.

For every single thing you own you need to invest a certain amount of energy. Everything you have needs to be fed by energy. And you are the one who unconsciously gives your energy to every single thing you own.

We should be very careful about what we buy, how often and for what purpose. It is necessary to ensure that each purchase was as rational as possible. In addition, the principle of non-violence should always be kept in mind. Before you buy a thing, think about what it is made of.

We need to learn how to make good use of the possessions that come to us and enjoy them without becoming emotionally dependent on them. Then they neither control us nor lead to false identities and expectations.

How to practice Aparigraha?

In order for us to start practicing Aparigraha, we need to examine our own tendencies toward possessiveness. To learn more read my article “Quiz: Are You Attached To Material Possessions?”.

The practice of non-possessiveness helps us to examine our assumptions and guides us back to healthy relationships with others.

To learn more about Aparigraha, read my article “Aparigraha: An Essential Step In Your Spiritual Evolution!“.

Yama #5: Brahmacharya

Tantric meditation image

The literal translation of brahmacharya is “walking in God-consciousness.” Brahmacharya turns the mind inward, balancing and supervising the senses, and leads to freedom from dependencies and cravings. When the mind is freed from domination by the senses, sensual pleasures are replaced by inner joy.

Brahmacharya focuses on chastity, marital fidelity or sexual restraint.

This requirement has a very broad basis. Starting from excessive sexual pleasures, ending with attachment to taste sensations.

Now let us consider in more detail why the sages of the past tried to avoid sexual relations almost completely. This was done in order to accumulate and raise energy as much as possible, to serve as much as possible for the benefit of society, using the seed only for procreation. It is worth making an important reservation that orgasm and ejaculation are completely different things.

Of course, in modern society, all the media and the so-called mass culture, constantly propagandize and install in the people’s consciousness of the maximum possible satisfaction of sexual desires. Because of this, it is very difficult to change what has been laid in the mind for decades. But nothing is impossible.

The need to control sexual energy is connected with the fact that, satisfying sexual passions, a person loses a huge amount of vital energy in the process of obtaining such a short-term pleasure. And when there is no energy, it becomes impossible to think about self-improvement and engage in spiritual practices on a higher level.

Of course, you may say: “Though I have sex 3-4 times a week, I still have the energy for my spiritual development”. And then I would answer: “You have no idea what you are capable of! You’re using just a very small percent of your potential! If you had more energy you would be able to master so much more in this life! You would discover hidden talents, passion for science, psychic abilities, immediate manifesting abilities, healing gifts, etc.”

The same applies to attachments to taste sensations. It is believed that the more you are attached to taste, the more vital energy you spend on the enjoyment of food. In this way, you need to strive to ensure that the food is simple and healthy and doesn’t stimulate your taste in the way that you get addicted to it. This will save more energy for a more efficient life and development.

Usually, attachments to taste and sexual desires testify to the energy blockage of the Svadhisthana chakra. In this case, an effective method, in addition to the practice of the asanas, is a cleansing technique Shank Prakshalana. It allows you not only to physically cleanse the body of toxins but also it can cleanse your energy.

How to practice Brahmacharya?

Be honest with yourself about what dependencies and cravings you have. Start making wise choices about the books and magazines you read, the food you eat, the movies you see, and the company you keep. It will help you conserve energy and keep your mind focused and dynamic.

Learn to be moderate in all sensual activities so that you don’t dwell on them. Staying committed and faithful to one partner in a relationship. This is a good way to start practicing Brahmacharya.

The Bottom Line

It is through your personal practice that you can learn the basics of yoga, which will help to achieve spiritual enlightenment in the future. Attentively study and find your own ways to practice the 5 Yamas in your everyday life. Then you’ll be able to build your own path to spiritual enlightenment. Even if you are just a beginner in yoga and meditation, practicing the 5 Yamas above will help to make a great start on your spiritual path!

Katya Ki is the Founder of SOLANCHA Magazine, a Metaphysical Expert, a Reiki Master, and Human Rights Attorney. She has been studying Eastern metaphysics, cosmology, and esotericism for almost 20 years now. And she's still discovering new knowledge, which is hidden in ancient teachings. During her pilgrimage to the monastery of Saint Catherine in Egypt, she discovered the SOLANCHA System. This is how the SOLANCHA journey started!

Awareness

Kundalini Awakening Symptoms Everyone Should Know

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From Sanskrit, the word “Kundalini” can be translated as “twisted” (like a snake or a steel spring), and traditionally the snake is its symbol. In ancient Indian manuscripts, Kundalini is described as a form of biological energy dormant in the human body. It is regarded as the basis of life, as the main form of energy that can be concentrated in the brain, and without which neither genius nor inspiration can exist. If you are engaged in any spiritual practices, then you need to understand clearly what Kundalini is and what Kundalini awakening symptoms you may experience.

What is Kundalini?

According to the ancient texts, the Kundalini energy is present in the whole body but is concentrated mainly in the lower part of the spine, that is, in the genital area, transmitting vital energy to the offspring. This “snake energy” can be woken up, and through the spine and chakras transferred to the brain.

kundalini spine image

Kundalini is extraordinarily powerful. A key to eternal youth and flourishing mental abilities is hidden in it. Indian Kundalini specialist Gopi Krishna said that Kundalini, being awakened, can be a source of mental strength, genius, artistic talent, and scientific achievements. That is, all that is characteristic of a high level of consciousness. According to Gopi Krishna, the process of awakening and ascent of Kundalini expands the range of hidden human abilities.

In ancient manuscripts of Tibet, Egypt, and Greece, as well as in other cultures, there is evidence of the Kundalini Energy existence. Even the first Christians knew about its existence. The headdress of the Pharaoh, and feathered snakes from Mexico and South America – all indicate the acquaintance of the ancient initiates with the energy of the Kundalini snake.

No one can predict who, when, and how this energy will awaken. However, one should know that only people with a pure mind, heart, and body can experience the awakening. For the Kundalini awakening, you should have as few psychological and emotional conflicts as possible. Moreover, your body should be as free as possible from the blocks and tensions. It is also good to have fewer attachments and idealizations defined by everyday concerns.

Kundalini’s awakening can occur in the form of an unexpected surge, like a dam break, sharp and, above all, uncontrollable and therefore – dangerous. For the time being, this energy is in a kind of preserved, dormant state. However, under certain conditions, it begins a spontaneous awakening and rises from the spine to the head. During this process, the energy transforms the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual systems of the person experiencing its rising.

What Is Kundalini Rising?

The process of Kundalini rising is an evolutionary process of transformation of the human personality. Your physical body, consciousness, and subconsciousness go through a big transformation. You’re changing your view and attitude toward life. Moreover, you’re developing unusual abilities.

kundalini yoga image

Kundalini is vital energy. Its thin stream always flows through us, through our bodies as long as we are alive. Some people have more of it, and they are successful in their life. And others have less of it, and they are less successful.

Kundalini needs to circulate freely in our bodies. But most people clog their path with various mental blocks, attachments, and conflict events that burden them. By eliminating these blocks, we free the path for the free flow of energy transformation. And when Kundalini flow can overcome these mental blocks it starts a rapid process of rising. And only then, when it clears us in its movement from the bottom up – it’s hot energy begins a cold downward flow from the top down, the flow of divine cosmic energy. That’s when the extraordinary miracles begin.

Kundalini awakening can be considered the most important and greatest event in the life of every person. Only from this moment does your true rebirth, awakening, and spiritualization begin. Only from this moment, a person starts the real path of improvement. And the beginning of the Kundalini rising is the first real step into a completely different, fabulous world of high energies, unusual phenomena, and new opportunities.

How Does Kundalini Awakening Happen?

Many spiritual practitioners have come up with different stages, or other indicators to specify their apparent progress in the process of evolution. However, it must be admitted that until you have experienced the transformation of personality in the fire of Kundalini, all other manifestations of enlightenment are only temporary success and lie only in the plane of the mind.

Some people can awaken the Kundalini energy consciously, following the methods developed by various spiritual schools. Others unconsciously, intuitively build their lives and change their views and beliefs by the Universal laws. Commonly, people experience spontaneous Kundalini awakening, even if they’ve never heard anything about it.

From Vedic texts, it is known that the flow of Kundalini energy rises through the energy channel located along the spine vertically. Until the awakening, this channel is usually closed. The fire of Kundalini gradually clears and opens this energy channel. As the Central channel is opened (cleaned), the Kundalini energy activates the chakras located along the spine, which, in turn, also begin to produce energy intensively. So it gradually opens up the entire Central channel and chakras.

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When the Kundalini reaches the last and highest 7th chakra in the crown, you become ready to perceive the subtle and higher energies from the Cosmos. Each chakra can receive cosmic energy and send its own to Cosmos. You become able to assimilate cosmic energies, which immediately turn on the process of transformation. In the course of it, you acquire that great power for which anything is possible. By using this power you can do amazing things, which, from the point of view of the laws of the physical world, are considered miracles.

As your Kundalini awakens, you begin to experience a number of strange phenomena. That’s why you need to know what Kundalini awakening symptoms are.

Kundalini Awakening Symptoms

Body Symptoms

  • Involuntary twitching, trembling, vibration, spasms.
  • Muscle contractions, especially in the anus, abdomen, and throat.
  • Sudden movements of hands, feet, or head.
  • Twitching of the whole body when a strong flow of energy rises inside, starting from the toe, foot, or base of the spine.

Physical Symptoms

Physical Kundalini awakening symptoms are:

  • Feelings of ecstasy and bliss, average in intensity or strong, lasting several minutes or several months.
  • A feeling of intoxication, detachment, a slight feeling of being outside the body. Falling into a trance, a fixed gaze directed into space.
  • Heart rate increase.
  • The feeling like you’re touching the electrical outlet, tingling, itching.
  • Unbalance, tension, and pulsation, sometimes replaced by lethargy.
  • Nausea, abdominal pain.
  • Chest pain, like a heart attack.
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  • Persistent or temporary pain throughout the body that cannot be diagnosed.
  • Aching back pain and sharp pain along the spine.
  • Headaches, a feeling of buzz in the head, tingling, itching, or goosebumps on the scalp.
  • Electrical sensations in the head, feeling like the skull is opening.
  • Numbness of the arms and legs in General, or the hands or feet.
  • Pain or a feeling of electrical tingling in the big toes, darkening or falling off the toenail.
  • Intense sexual arousal, spontaneous orgasms experienced in the genital area or described as “covering the whole body” or “brain orgasms”.
  • Vibration and energy coming out of your ears.
  • The increased activity followed by exhaustion.
  • Hair stands on end.
  • Protruding the abdomen, as if during pregnancy.
  • Spontaneous filling of the lungs with air.
  • The taste of sweet nectar flowing from head to throat.

Diseases Or Pseudo Diseases

  • Imaginary heart attacks are usually a false alarm; complaints that the heart is not beating.
  • A person’s sincere belief that he or she is dying, accompanied by vague pains and complaints.
  • The manifestation of other hidden diseases: wandering pain, hyperemia, digestive problems, and other complaints about the various organs of the body, disappearing without any treatment.

Visual Symptoms

The variety of visual Kundalini awakening symptoms is striking: it’s like lightning rays of light in your head, visions, or hallucinations (by the way, they can be quite frightening!). There were cases when there was a small sparkling point in the Third eye area. Tibetan monks call it ”the seed of light”, but it is not necessary that it arises in the area of the forehead. The sparkling point can arise between you and the object, or arise during meditation, and even when you are in a normal state, and it does not matter — your eyes are open or closed at this moment.

kundalini awakening symptoms light image

You may also become extremely sensitive to light or experience sudden vision – all colors seem very bright. Some people even start being able to see the aura.

Other visual Kundalini awakening symptoms are burning eyes and twitching in the area between the eyebrows.

Temperature Change

One of the most common Kundalini awakening symptoms is a temperature change. The sensation of it occurs in the following ways:

  • Waves of heat, sometimes with sweating.
  • The heat may flow from the body or feel like intense burning.
  • Night sweating.
  • Waves of icy cold, sometimes followed by waves of heat.
  • Feelings of heat or cold in different parts of the body, especially in the hands or at the base of the spine.

Emotional Symptoms

Emotional Kundalini awakening symptoms are:

  • Depression.
  • Anxiety.
  • Anger.
  • Guilt.
  • Temporary confusion of thoughts and difficulties with the performance of work tasks.
  • Insomnia.
  • Uncharacteristic of the person’s strong sexual desire.
  • Temporary problems with sexual identity.
  • Visions or hearing sounds.
  • Disorderly thoughts, indecision,
  • Bombast and arrogance.
  • Easy entry into a trance or semi-conscious state.

Increased Psychic Or Empathic Abilities

  • A vision or a sense of aura.
  • Seeing and understanding the signs from the Universe.
  • The ability to heal certain diseases with the energy of hands.
  • Involuntary recollection of past life experiences.
  • A better understanding of spiritual Scriptures.
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  • Feeling the ability to influence another person’s thoughts.
  • Instinctive-intuitive knowing what needs to be done.
  • A sense of the presence of a luminous being or teacher from another dimension.
  • Psychokinetic phenomena (interference in electrical devices, moving objects, destruction of objects, etc.).
  • Out-of-body experiences.
  • Extended panoramic perception of everything.

Detachment

Another Kundalini awakening common symptom is a feeling like you’re outside of your own body. Sometimes this is manifested as a detachment from the daily routine or even detachment from everything material.

Food

We all know that the food we eat affects not just our physical bodies and health but also our energy. That is why when we’re experiencing Kundalini awakening symptoms we also notice that our eating habits change dramatically. The most interesting thing is that the changes in our eating habits are effortless. They happen naturally. It feels like your body itself tells you what you need to eat.

Conclusion

It is the Kundalini that opens the gates of further human evolution and gives us the power to understand and fulfill our life’s mission. And if you are in the process of reading this article felt unusual or similar phenomena – do not be afraid of what is happening! Take everything as it is, do not resist what is happening. Now you know and understand what is happening or what may happen to you in the future. I hope that the knowledge contained in this article will give you confidence, protect you from possible troubles and open the door to a great future!

Namaste!

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Yoga

Raja Yoga: The 8 Steps to Self-realization and Liberation

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There are two types of spiritual teachers. Those that tell you, “I have experienced God and for you to tap into this experience you must follow me.” And those that say, “I have experienced God and you can have this experience too.” The latter is where you need to belong. And Raja Yoga aims at facilitating you to experience this higher realm. 

Naturally, human beings are meant to be in a state of higher consciousness to function optimally. See, the human brain is rather restless and therefore we do not see the truth. To experience the higher realm, we need to be focused and concentrate. And we cannot argue with personal experience, can we? So let us share with you how to tap into this path. 

But first;

What is Raja Yoga?

Raja Yoga is one of the oldest yoga systems practiced in India for centuries and now in other parts of the world. It’s simply the path of experience. 

Raja Yoga proposes growing your spirituality without prior faith or belief. This means you can experience God at any time and place without mantras or rituals irrespective of your age or ethnicity. However, this is a branch of yoga that requires a really strong personality as we will discuss below. 

The Eight Stagesto Self-realization and Liberation  

When you practice Raja Yoga, you free the soul (atma), from the bondage of illusions (maya) and unite with your prime soul (paramatma). Below is a step by step experience:

Stage 1: Yama

Meditation in Solitude Image

Yama is a set of ethical norms that teach us to communicate with others in the right way. To be brief, it means one thing: treat people the way you want them to treat you.

There are five Yamas:

  1. Ahiṃsā (अहिंसा): Nonviolence, non-harming other living beings.
  2. Satya (सत्य): truthfulness, non-falsehood.
  3. Asteya (अस्तेय): non-stealing.
  4. Brahmacharya (ब्रह्मचर्य): chastity, marital fidelity, or sexual restraint.
  5. Aparigraha (अपरिग्रहः): non-avarice, non-possessiveness.

Stage 2: Niyama

This step of forming the self-discipline and uplifting spirituality. Niyama involves regular visits to temples, meditative practices, a study of nature, thinking, and walks.

Five Niyamas are:

  1. Śaucha (शौच): purity, clearness of mind, speech, and body.
  2. Santosha (सन्तोष): contentment, acceptance of others, and of one’s circumstances as they are, optimism for self.
  3. Tapas (तपस): austerity, self-discipline, persistent meditation, perseverance.
  4. Svādhyāya (स्वाध्याय): a study of self, self-reflection, introspection of self’s thoughts, speeches, and actions.
  5. Īśvarapraṇidhāna (ईश्वरप्रणिधान): contemplation of the Ishvara (God/Supreme Being, Brahman, True Self, Unchanging Reality), attunement to the supreme consciousness.

Stage 3: Asana

Asana means ‘posture’ or ‘pose’. So by saying ‘asanas’ we mean body poses. In any Yoga, we need to maintain a steady pose to be able to concentrate and control external and internal energies. By performing certain asanas, a person learns concentration and self-discipline.

Stage 4: Pranayama

Next we engage breathing exercises that directly affect the mind or what we call control of prana (vital energy). See, in today’s hustle and bustle, most people have forgotten how to breathe properly. We simply breathe because our body demands of the oxygen to function. It’s important to always remember that life is breath. And when we exercise control over breath, we can control the subtle Prana inside us. That means having control over all the forces in our universe, both physical and mental. 

Pranayama practice allows you to rejuvenate the entire body and prolong your lifespan. We can practice pranayama as a separate type of yoga technique, or use it as a component of the complex of yoga practice.

Stage 5: Pratyahara

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Pratyahara means ‘gaining mastery over external influences’.

At this stage, we have to withdraw our senses from objects consciously.

If you have ever engaged in the Savasana (Corpse pose) you must have unearthed your five levels of mental sheaths. These are: 

  • The physical body (food sheath)
  • Prana sheath (subtle energy channels) 
  • The emotional reactions level (mental sheath)
  • Consciousness sheath (the ego)
  • And the causal sheath (the karmic record of your soul’s experiences). 

These mental levels are in order of increasing layers of consciousness. The second stage represents pratyahara. You’re basically leaving the external world but still maintaining contact with it. At this stage, describing from personal experience, you feel trapped in the bottom of a well. You can identify with the surrounding sounds, yet these noises don’t bother you (mentally or physically). You’re in a state of non-reaction. Some Yogi teachers will explain this stage as being in the world yet not of it.

The purpose of this stage is to achieve a state of the distraction of the senses from the surrounding reality and the circulation of the gaze and consciousness inside of you. In other words, pratyahara is the ability to concentrate and not be distracted by various external stimuli. This step gives you the vision of the internal systems, understanding what can stop your personal and inner growth.

Stage 6: Dharana

Dharana means ‘concentration’ or ‘single focus’. Once we eliminate object attachment, we progress in concentration. This is at the mental sheath stage. You can practice this stage in your daily tasks by choosing to perform just one task at a time or achieve the same during meditation by focusing your thoughts at one particular object, idea or place.

By concentrating, we get distracted from external ‘noise’.  This is how we can calm down our minds, which distracts us from knowing more than we are able to understand. It helps us to see the limitless of our possibilities. At this stage, we gain a skill to slow down the thought process by focusing on sound, image, energy, or body.

Stage 7: Dhyana

Dhyana means ‘contemplation, reflection’ and ‘profound, abstract meditation’. 

It’s the meditation practice where you come face to face with your ego. You tap into your self-awareness or soul. This stage is similar to Dharana, however, here you go in deeper. You choose to concentrate on your point of reference until this thought becomes a part of your consciousness.

Conscious inhibition of thought processes allows to calm the mind, to feel serenity, not to give rise to new thoughts. To reach this stage, you need endurance and strength. For achieving this, you have to put in a lot of effort and time.

Stage 8: Samadhi

Japa meditation image

Finally, at this stage we achieve a super conscious state. See, once you go past your ego, past your senses and past the wandering mind, you can transcend to any levels you imagine of, with complete control over your mind. In other words, you, your mind, and your chosen object of meditation merge together into one. However, most people experience this level based on their soul’s past.

The Benefits of Raja Yoga

Medical benefits

Recent research has seen Raja Yoga as an important therapeutic and prophylactic modality in several health conditions.

Happiness

Raja Yoga enhances positive thinking which increases self-satisfaction and consequently happiness in life. This applies irrespective of your age or the period of time you have been practicing this yoga.

Positive inner transformation

Well, this is obvious since Raja Yoga works on the principle of meditation with an aim to free the soul.

Physical and mental relaxation

With continued practice, Raja Yoga will change your attitude and transform your lifestyle. Eventually, you experience great transformation in your overall wellbeing.

Better control over addictions

Remember we mentioned before that this yoga aims at freeing the soul from the bondage of illusions. Addiction is simply an illusion that clouds your judgment and takes control of your mind. Once you free the soul and experience a higher realm, you will be the only one making your life decisions. 

Conclusion

In Sanskrit texts, Raja yoga was both the goal of yoga and a method to attain it. Nowadays, many people on spiritual path choose to integrate this practice into their lives. By doing so they are able to silence their minds, deepen the meditation practice, take control over their thoughts, and achieve the higher level of consciousness.

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Yoga

Kriya Yoga: The Benefits and Principles of Practice

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Kriya Yoga image

Are you on a spiritual path to self-realization? If so, what meditation techniques do you practice? In this guide, we will introduce you to Kriya Yoga, a sacred technique that requires both leading an ethical life and practicing yoga and meditation. That way, you can improve your focus and concentration and live a calm and joyous life. So, what does Kriya Yoga entail? Let’s start with the definition.

What is Kriya Yoga?

Kriya Yoga is a yogic practice that focuses on the spiritual benefits rather than the physical benefits of yoga. Hence, it is a spiritual practice that aims at developing your spirit into leading a more conscious and fulfilling life. That is, you aim at enhancing your current life in such a way that your physical, emotional, and psychological survival is no more a concern to you. 

Moreover, unlike hatha yoga that requires hard work and physical exercise, Kriya Yoga relies on growth and expression. 

The Origin and History of Kriya Yoga

“Kri refers to action, and “ya” means indwelling soul. Hence, the term Kriya stands for becoming aware of the power of the inhaled soul. It is about gaining self-realization while also appreciating the mechanics of human life.

The practice of Kriya Yoga dates back to ancient times when advanced Himalayan yogis practiced it in meditation caves. Still, its first mention in modern times is in 1861 when Mahavatar Babaji, the yoga master, passed the practice to Lahiri Mahasaya. More so, it is the spiritual master Paramahansa Yogananda who later brings Kriya Yoga practice to the west, sparking a spiritual revolution. Kriya Yoga continues to impact the lives of millions of people seeking spiritual enlightenment

The Philosophy and Principles of Kriya Yoga

Gyan Mudra For Deep Meditation Image

The practice of Kriya Yoga is split into three key components as follows: –

#1: Meditation

Kriya Yoga advocates for a life of discipline. It requires setting sometime every day to allow your consciousness to clear. Indeed, society bombards our minds with lots of distractive thoughts. It could be from social media, local politics, or family demands. Whatever the source of the cloudiness, Kriya yoga requires us to practice breathing awareness meditation every day to refine our nervous system. 

It also requires that we change the functioning and structure of our brains for clarity of thought. In turn, meditation gradually changes the energy system within our body (Kundalini) and makes us attune to higher consciousness and vibrations. Only then can we become aware of our true selves.

#2: Self-Inquiry/Self-Study

The second stage in Kriya Yoga is Vichara or self-inquiry. Here, we examine our current lifestyles against the true self that we strive to become. It is a journey of introspection and discernment, letting go of false perceptions of self and people’s biased opinions. In turn, we ask ourselves questions such as: –

  • Who am I?
  • What is my true purpose in life?
  • What are my values?
  • How do I define my energy level? What affects it?
  • Can I express the boundary between self and the world?
  • What comes to mind when I inhale and exhale during meditation?
  • Which yoga pause feels most expansive?
  • What inspires me, brings me joy, or matters to me the most right now?
  • How do I feel when I nourish my body with healthy food?
  • What grounds me?
  • What is my definition of success beyond money?
  • From what do I want to detach?
  • How do I express my creativity?
  • Where is my favorite spot for practicing yoga? Why is this spot special to me?
  • What does surrender mean to me?
  • How do I feel when I clean out or de-clutter my workspace?

Self-study makes us contemplate on ourselves. We inquire about our perception of reality versus the true reality. That way, we seek to understand our sole purpose in the world. 

#3: Surrendered Devotion, Isvarapranidhana

Finally, Kriya Yoga is about ethical living, a life of devotion to seeking spiritual enlightenment. The practice helps us make sense of that unease we have when things don’t turn out the way we want. You know that feeling of groundlessness that goes against our societal norms. 

Our communities require us to hold on to a career, family, or leadership to feel in control. Yet, in Kriya Yoga, we let go of our desire for dominion and surrender all effort.

Benefits of Practicing Kriya Yoga as Part of Your Spiritual Journey

Meditation Quotes 5 yamas Image

#1: Attaining a Spiritual Awakening

The ultimate goal of Kriya Yoga is experiencing a spiritual awakening. This awakening takes place by doing four fundamental actions: –

  • Daily Spiritual Meditation – Kriya Yoga relies on the techniques in Raja Yoga to activate higher consciousness. It is a highly individual experience where the participant can hear voices, see visions, lose or absorb a sense of separateness and have a sense of awe or transcendence.
  • Spiritual Contemplation – Here, we observe our thoughts without being judgmental. The practice helps us discover that our feelings reflect how our minds interpret those beliefs. Likewise, we notice that negative emotions arise from our interpretation or judging of thoughts with negativity. 
  • Spiritual Reflection  Spiritual reflection refers to studying and reflecting on the Vedic scriptures. Here, we aim to unlock the secrets of leading a peaceful and prosperous lifestyle. Hence, we want to live our lives with sincerity, knowledge, and compassion.
  • Spiritual Exploration – Finally, Kriya Yoga allows us to explore different spiritual practices to discover what works for each one of us. 

#2: Physical Benefits

Apart from a spiritual awakening, anyone practicing Kriya Yoga shall experience the following benefits: –

  • Improves our moods and overall well being
  • Assists in dealing with depression 
  • Improves our tolerance to pain
  • Helps in managing stress and anxiety
  • Lowers high blood pressure and hypertension levels
  • Soothes, stimulates, and clarifies the mind and soul
  • It helps us regain our self-confidence
  • Improves our concentration and memory power

Conclusion

Kriya Yoga believes that when we enhance our roots, we will see the fruits in the form of a spiritual awakening. In turn, this spiritual practice emphasizes coming to an ideal state that determines the quality of our lives. It is about growing beyond our needs and concerns and becoming a karma yogi.

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