Raja yoga is the path of systematic analysis and control of the mind. Compiled by Patanjali Maharshi, raja yoga is also known as ashtanga yoga, because its practices can be divided into eight limbs:
Together the yamas and niyamas from high moral character and ethical conduct. The mind is uplifted and purified for deep meditation.
For spiritual practice, as for any other pursuit in life, a healthy and strong system is also essential. Steady mind presupposes steady body. Attain one-pointedness of mind and forget about the body.
The physical nerves as well as the astral energy tubes (nadis) must be pure and strong enough to withstand various mental phenomena and disorientations that can occur during practice. In the process of turning the mind inward, old negativities may surface. On rare occasions they may even appear symbolically in the form of visions. A frail person may discontinue sadhana rather than confront these aspects of the sub-consious.
Concentrating the mind upon either an external object or an internal idea, to the exclusion of all other thoughts.
Meditation is defined as an unbroken flow of thought towards God to the exclusion of other sensual perception.
It is sublime beyond description: beyond the mind to grasp. Samadhi transcends all ordinary, sensory experience as well as time, space and causation. Samadhi represents the goal of all existence. It is what all living beings are moving towards.
Raja Yoga : expounded in the Raja Yoga Sutras of Patanjali Mahrshi, deals directly with the mind. By controlling the mind one gains control of the prana.
Kundalini Yoga : the nadis (pranic channels) and chakras (energy centres) are purified and the kundalini is awakened. Kundalini yoga describes the psychic system, and develops numerous techniques for gaining mastery of prana in order to control the mind.
Health Yoga : kriyas, asanas, pranayama, mudras and bandhas are emphasized for the beginner student. By using these techniques to gain control over the prana, one also gains control of the mind.
Mantra Yoga : focuses on the use of sound to control the mind.
Yantra yoga : uses geometrical forms for meditation.
Nada yoga : uses music.
Laya yoga : the aspirant concentrates on inner (anahata) sounds and light.
It is important to remember that in all forms of raja yoga, all eight limbs must be practiced. Basic principles are the same. The only difference is emphasis.