Raja yoga: (Sanskrit) "King of yogas." Raja is also known as ashtanga yoga, the "eight-limbed yoga." The classical yoga system of eight progressive stages to Illumination as described in various yoga Upanishads, the Tirumantiram ("Holy incantation.")and, most notably, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The eight limbs are as follows.
1) Yama: "Restraint" Virtuous and moral living which brings purity of mind. Anger, jealousy and subconscious confusion inhibits man’s mind from entering into control states of consciousness. The controls of these basic passions bring about the ability/opportunity to obtain deep states of concentration, contemplation and meditation.
2) Niyama: (Sanskrit) "Observance." Religious practices which cultivate the qualities of the higher nature, such as devotion, cognition, humility and contentment--giving the refinement of nature and control of mind needed to concentrate and ultimately plunge into deep states of concentration, contemplation meditation and eventually samadhi.
3) Asana: "Seat or posture." A sound body is needed for success in meditation. This is attained through hatha yoga, the postures of which balance the energies of mind and body, promoting health and serenity, e.g., padmasana, the "lotus pose," for meditation. The Yoga Sutras indicate that asanas make the yogi impervious to the impact of the pairs of opposites (dvandva), heat-cold, etc.
4) Pranayama: "This is a technique for mastering the life force within the body." Through regulating the breath we influence the subtle energies (pranas) that makeup the foundation of our total physical and subtle existence. The nadi system is a subtle flow of pranas that consist of a positive flow of prana (pingala nadis), a negative flow of prana (Ida nadis) and a neutral flow of pranas (sushumna nadis) where both positive and negative pranas travel in one direction. These nadis extends from the vehicle of consciousness of the Soul called Kundalini and build the consciousness of the etheric, mental, pranic, astral and physical bodies. The matrix of the Nadis builds several levels of consciousness that Soul works through. The ancient pranayama techniques works through the Nadic physical, mental psychic layers in order to control, balance and raise man’s consciousness. The nostrils, nasal cavity, lungs, respiratory system, circulatory system and the nervous system is all part of the physical aspects known as the Nadi system. The pranayama system uses several forms of breath control which includes complete breath techniques, rhythmic breath techniques and retention of breath techniques all of which uses visualization practices, concentration and contemplation techniques and mantric practices in order channel the prana flow and raise consciousness. Pranayama simulates all the internal bodily systems, it moves all the mental energies in one direction potentizing its impact and it also pushes the vital energies in one direction too create a free flow of balance energies under conscious control that eventually allows man to take control over the power of Kundalini and raise it partial up the sushumna (spine) with the obtain power of concentration and contemplation through pranayama techniques. Eventually Kundalini can be raised in its full aspect in its full aspect with pranayama techniques using intense concentration that bring about meditation.
5) Pratyahara: "Withdrawal." The practice of withdrawing consciousness from the physical senses first, such as not hearing noise while meditating, then progressively receding from emotions, intellect and eventually from individual consciousness itself in order to merge into the Universal Mind Substance or higher consciousness.
6) Dharana: "Concentration" is training the mind to focus the mind on a single object or a subject-line of thought without allowing the mind to wander. By obtaining this level of concentration of directing the mind down one channel of thought the student elevates his consciousness above the normal levels of operation. When concentration is sustained for long period of time and deep enough, contemplation is obtain and eventually meditation naturally follows after intense practice. At this point the nadis are being purified and the basic chakras are beginning to be partial activated. The control of mind through concentration begins to give the practitioner gradual control over the massive pranic and mental control over mental bodies locked in the auric magnetic fields.
7) Dhyana: “contemplation” is a result of intense and prolonged periods of concentration which brings about the ability to read imbedded subtle mental information within the object or within the auric field (or subtle magnetic mental field) of the object. In other words when contemplation is achieved the person receives a flow of information from their extra-sensory perception organs. This is considered to be clairvoyant powers or Siddhis. At this point of mental control the practitioner has learn to control the vrittis within the mental bodies (or subconscious mind). The student is then taught to perform Samyamas on as many objects as possible until they can obtain deep states of contemplation that eventually leads them into a meditative state of consciousness. In Contemplation the auric fields of the mental bodies are controlled to allow massive amounts of information to enter through to the extra-sensory perception part of the mind. At this point the nadis are conditioned to respond to conscious mental commands on several realms of mental perception (etheric-psychic, astral-psychic and mental psychic levels). The basic chakras and the two of the upper chakras are partial activated through the partial rise of Kundalini with the power of contemplation.
8) Samadhi: "Deep Meditation," meditation is when the practitioner becomes one with that thing that he or she was concentrated or contemplating on. In other words meditation is when the practitioner merges his or her consciousness with the thing that they are concentrating of contemplating on. The meditator and the object of meditation becomes one consciousness. Therefore Meditation is the result of a full raise of the power of kundalini. The higher kundalini raise through sushumna to the various chakras, the deeper the meditation becomes. Each chakra petal represents a different level of meditation. After raising kundalini many times the practitioner enters a state of ecstatic bliss called “Samadhi”. After the practitioner enters Samadhi many times he or she enters a higher state of Samadhi called Cosmic Consciousness.