Raja Yoga: Going Deeper

Raja Yoga: Going Deeper 

By Kathy RandolphTYC Altar small

Yoga has been broadly divided into four principal paths for seeking more from life than the mundane  outer existence:

Bhakti Yoga…………The way of devotional love for the Divine.

Karma Yoga………..The way of right action, or selfless service.

Jnana Yoga…………The way of knowledge and discrimination.

Raja Yoga……………The way of unification of body and mind through the development of conscious control.


Raja Yoga, often called “Royal Yoga” or the “Royal Road” includes the teachings of all these paths of yoga.  It is the path of self-discipline and practice, using many techniques which help to control body, energy, senses and mind.  Central to the path of Raja Yoga are the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali which codified Ashtanga (eight branched) Yoga as:

  • Yamas…………………Outer behaviors and inner attitudes to avoid: violence, lying, stealing, sensuality and greed.
  • Niyamas………………Practices and observances to cultivate: cleanliness, contentment, austerity, introspection, devotion.
  • Asana………………….Practice of postures to gain control of the body, stillness.
  • Pranayama………….Energy control, often breathing techniques.
  • Pratyahara…………..Interiorization of the mind, withdrawing the senses from external objects.
  • Dharana………………Concentration.
  • Dhyana………………..Meditation.
  • Samadhi………………Enlightenment, the experience of Union.


07-Kathy-Randolph-low resHatha Yoga focuses on two steps of the eight-fold path, asana (postures) and pranayama (breath practices) preparing the body for the journey toward enlightenment.  Through asana the body is quieted and the mind becomes calm, providing the control essential for bodily stillness and a heightened awareness of the subtle nature of the breath. In pranayama, the observation and experiencing of the breath convert it from an autonomic function to a conscious one, combining the physical and spiritual qualities of the breath. Pranayama serves as a bridge between our states of being: conscious and unconscious, voluntary and involuntary, internal and external and provides a gateway to the higher levels of development.  Hatha Yoga brings the body and breath into balance, in order to calm the disturbances of the mind in preparation for the deeper practice of meditation.

A Raja Yoga practice includes techniques to practice all eight aspects of yoga:TYC Kathy crop #2

  • Kirtan (chant)
  • Netra Vyayamam (eye exercises)
  • Surya Namaskar (sun salutation)
  • Asana (yoga postures)
  • Yoga Nidra (deep relaxation)
  • Pranayama (breathing exercises)
  • Dhyana (meditation)

Swami Satchidananda tells us “A body of perfect health and strength, mind with all clarity and calmness, intellect as sharp as a razor, will as pliable as steel, heart full of love and compassion, life full of dedication and Realization of the True Self is the Goal of Integral Yoga.  Attain this through asanas, pranayama, chanting of Holy Names, self-discipline, selfless action, mantra japa, meditation, study and reflection.”

1) Sri Swami Satchidananda, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali/translation and commentary by Sri Swami Satchidananda, Integral Yoga Publications, 2012.

2) Sri Swami Satchidananda, Integral Yoga Hatha, Integral Yoga Publications, 1995,

3) Sri Swami Sivananda, The Science of Pranayama, The Divine Life Society, 1935.

4) Sri Swami Satchidananda, The Breath of Life:Integral Yoga Pranayama: Integral Yoga Publications, 1993,

I am grateful to my teachers Lisa Dalberg and Sonia Sumar for their wisdom, grace and generosity.  After decades of hatha yoga practice I began my study of Integral Yoga, a Raja Yoga tradition, with Lisa in 1990.  In 1999 with Lisa’s encouragement I expanded my Integral Yoga study with Sonia Sumar, the creator of Yoga for the Special Child.   I completed my Hatha Yoga Teacher Training Program at Sonia’s Satchidananda Yoga Center in 2004.  I continue to train with both of these inspiring women whose teaching and example take me ever deeper into my practice.

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I hope you will join me at my “Raja Yoga” class on Mondays, 6:30 to 7:45 a.m. beginning May 9 through June 13, 2016.  On Monday, May 9 The Yoga Center presents “Welcome to Raja Yoga” a FREE class so you can try it and see if it takes you deeper into your practice.  Beginning on June 20, 2016 my “Raja Yoga” class is now weekly, 6:30 to 7:45 a.m. on Mondays, $48 for a six week series, all proceeds provide sponsorships for Yoga for the Special Child group class students.  I hope you will join me to deepen your yoga practice and enjoy the Karma Yoga of providing yoga classes for children with special needs.

The Yoga Center presents Welcome to Raja Yoga


Effectiveness of Meditation in Reducing Stress

Effectiveness of Meditation in Reducing Stress

Recent research on the benefits of meditation in reducing stress-related illness has convinced many corporations nationwide – including Adolf Coors, Marriott, Poloroid, Hughes Aircraft, Pacific Bell, and NASA – to use meditation training as an integral part of their stress management programs. Meditation has been the subject of hundreds of clinical studies in recent years. Below is a summary of key studies:

1) Meditation significantly controls high blood pressure at levels comparable to widely used prescription drugs, and without the side effects of drugs. Hypertension, AMA Medical Journal

2) Meditators are able to reduce chronic pain by more than 50% while increasing daily function and markedly improving their moods, even 4 years after the completion of an 8-week training course. Jon Kabat-Zinn, MD Stress Reduction Clinic

3) 75% of long-term insomniacs who have been trained in relaxation and meditation can fall asleep within 20 minutes of going to bed. Dr. Gregg Jacobs, Psychologist, Harvard

4) Meditation decreases oxygen consumption, heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure, and increases the intensity of alpha, theta, and delta brain waves – the opposite of the physiological changes that occur during the stress response. Herbert Benson, MD Harvard Medical School

5) Relaxation therapies are effective in treating chronic pain, and can markedly ease the pain of low back problems, arthritis, and headaches. National Institutes of Health, 1996

6) Reducing stress can dramatically reduce heart disease. In a five year study of heart disease patients, those who learned to manage stress reduced their risk of having another heart attack by 74%, compared with patients receiving medication only. Reducing mental stress also proved more beneficial than getting exercise. Dr. James Blumenthal, Duke University

7) Twenty eight people with high levels of blocked arteries and high risk of heart attack were placed on a program with regular practice of meditation, yoga, a low fat vegetarian diet, and exercise. Twenty people in the control group received conventional medical care endorsed by the AMA. At the end of a year, most of the experimental group reported that their chest pains had virtually disappeared; for 82% of the patients, arterial clogging had reversed. Those who were sickest at the start showed the most improvement. The control group had an increase in chest pain and arterial blockage worsened. Dr. Dean Ornish, San Francisco Medical School

8) Two groups were compared: meditators and non-meditators The meditators were less anxious and neurotic, more spontaneous, independent, self confident, empathetic, and less fearful of death. Atlantic Monthly, 1991

9) Twenty out of twenty two anxiety prone people showed a 60% improvement in anxiety levels following an eight week course in meditation. University of Massachusetts

10) A study of women with severe PMS showed a 58% improvement in their symptoms after five months of daily meditation. Health, 1995

11) High school students who study relaxation techniques stay in school more often and have fewer incidents of suspension. The Education Initiative, Mind/Body Medical Institute, Harvard

12) In a recent study, 77% of individuals with high levels of stress were able to cool down, lower their blood pressure and cholesterol levels, simply by training themselves to stay calm. Health, 1994