Raja means “royal”. Raja Yoga is the path of Yoga that focuses on meditation and contemplation. It is based on the Eight Limbs of Yoga which was discussed in the Yoga Sutra. The Yoga Sutras are built on a foundation of Samkhya philosophy and the Bhagavad Gita. In the Yoga Sutras, Maharshi Patanjali prescribes adherence to eight “limbs” or steps (the sum of which constitute “Ashtanga Yoga”
This Yoga path teaches deep self respect through self mastery. The self here is honored. Raja Yoga believes that the universe exists for the self, giving the self an illusion of centrality which results to self respect and respect for all creatures.
Ashtanga Yoga – The Eight Limbs of Raja Yoga
The eight “limbs” or steps are Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. Some yogis categorized these eight steps into two groups. Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, and Pratyahara comprise the first group. Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi belong to second group, called Samyama. This categorization is because of no cognizance present among Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.
Though there is no cognizance to Dharana, Dhyana and Samadh, they are independent of time and sequence. The result is that they exist independently and also exist simultaneously. Any one, two or three can exist at the same time. When the three stages exist simultaneously then it is called Samyamah, the simultaneous existence.
The Yoga of Patanjali is Ashtanga or comprised of 8 limbs,
Yama / Niyama- are ethical obligations.
Asana- Postures of the body.
Pranayama – Control of prana or vital breath. Asana, Pranayama are breath control.
Pratyahara – Pratyahara is sense withdrawal.
Dharana – Dharana is fixing the attention on a single object; concentration.
Dhyana – Dhyana is meditation.
Samadhi – Samadhi the experience of unity with God (Super-conscious state or trance).