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The Eight-Fold Path of Raja Yoga

Peter Winslow, Life Coach

Life coach Peter Winslow offers guidance for the pursuit of happiness, and has authored four books on healing and self-empowerment. In addition to his work as a life coach, Peter Winslow enjoys meditation and yoga in his spare time. He maintains a particular interest in Raja Yoga, which focuses on awareness of one’s state of mind and consists of eight parts:

1. Yama: Self Control. The first part of Raja Yoga centers on self-control and consists of five principles: non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, pure way of life, and non-accumulation of possessions. It outlines a code of behavior for living in peace and remaining free of negative karma.
2. Niyama: Discipline. Niyama revolves around self-restraint and applying it to daily life. It also consists of five principles: purity, contentment, austerity, study of scriptures, and surrendering one’s ego to a universal power.
3. Asana: Physical Exercises. These focus on developing the muscular and central nervous systems. Poses also emphasize the importance of a steady posture.
4. Pranayama. Breathing exercises. These techniques are used to develop energy and encourage its flow though the body during meditation. The goal is to control the breathing to the point of feeling the energy.
5. Pratyahara: Withdrawing from Senses. Considered the final level of Raja Yoga’s foundation, Pratyahara is concerned with detaching one’s self from physical senses and focus inward. Increasing inner awareness fosters a sense of peace and helps one become in-tune with the body’s sounds and functions, such heartbeat and blood circulation.
6. Dharana: Concentration. Dharana follows Pratyahara and involves focusing one’s thoughts on a single subject. Mastery of this part means blocking out all distractions and maintaining concentration.
7. Dhyana: Meditation. According to the principles of Raja Yoga, true meditation occurs naturally when the mind becomes completely quiet and involves no active imaginary activity. Intellect stills, and the mind simply floats without reflection on individual ego.
8. Samadhi: Enlightenment. Only advanced yogi can reach this stage and those who have describe it as an eternal peace and union with the divine.

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