Raja means “royal” and meditation is the focal point of this branch of yoga. This approach involves strict adherence to the eight “limbs” of yoga as outlined by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. As with all branches of yoga, these eight limbs can also be found in many other branches of yoga. And as with a living tree, each of the limbs additionally gives forth fruit to deepen practice and understanding.
They follow in this order: yama (ethical standards); niyama (self-discipline); asana (posture); pranayama (breath-control); pratyahara (sensory withdrawal); dharana (concentration); dhyana (meditation); and samadhi (final liberation).
Raja yoga attracts individuals who are introspective and drawn to meditation. Members of religious orders and spiritual communities devote themselves to this branch of yoga. Even though the path suggests a monastic or contemplative lifestyle, entering an ashram or monastery is not a prerequisite.