|The teachings at SPACE are rooted in the core tradition of Raja Yoga (the "Royal Path or Eight Limbed Path") as brought to light in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. Both are ancient texts from India explaining systematic ways of preparing the body, mind and emotions for deeper and more profound states of awareness through meditation. Yoga is much more than just a sequence of movements to make the body more flexible. Over 5000 years ago, in the Indus Valley civilization of modern day India/Pakistan, the yoga asanas (postures) were designed to purify and prepare the muscles, internal organs and nervous system for meditation. As the system of Yoga evolved over thousands of years into a more refined process, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali were recorded and gave the yoga practitioner a definitive map of how to methodically progress toward the state of enlightenment called samadhi.
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali advise that the sincere practitioner begin his/her commitment to the Yoga practice by observing the yamas and niyamas, moral restraints and observations. These universal codes are common amongst many spiritual traditions and include non-harming, truthfulness, non-stealing, moderation, non-greed, purity, contentment, the practice of austerities for purification, spiritual study and surrender of personal desires and ego to Divine Spirit.
The practice of these yamas and niyamas give the practitioner a moral foundation on which to base the continued practice. Patanjali advises that the path of Raja Yoga include asana, the physical postures, to make the body more easeful and healthy; pranayama, the breathing and energetic practices, to vitalize the physical and energetic body with prana.
Once the body has been prepared through asana and pranayama, the practitioner is ready to move to a more inward experience of Yoga with pratyahara, the withdrawal from the senses. Because the body is now more supple and open from the asana, sitting still is more comfortable and will not be a distraction. The nervous system has been further purified with a continued practice of pranayama, and habitual mental patternings may have become more passive at this point. Patanjali advises for the attention of the mind to be moved inward and away from outer sensations. So begins the exploration into inner consciousness that is dharana or focused concentration. Many practices help the practitioner in dharana such as observation of the breath, concentration on a particular image or visualization or the use of a mantra.
Dharana leads into dhyana, or the deeply meditative state, where the meditator becomes absorbed fully into the experience of the object of focus. The very blessed and ardent practitioner may move into the state of samadhi, complete absorption into the Divine, where no separateness can be conceived. Patanjali outlines the many aspects and levels of samadhi in the Yoga Sutras.
While the system of Raja Yoga is presented in a linear fashion, many of its aspects overlap and the practitioner experiences the transformations that Yoga holds in a very organic and individual way. Most yoga practitioners begin the yoga journey with asana and find that the physical practice itself acts as a guide towards deeper and more introspective aspects of the path.
Many clear translations of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are available including fine ones by Sri Swami Satchitananda, Georg Feurstein, Mukunda Styles and Barbara Miller.
Most of today's well known hatha yoga styles, including Ashtanga, Iyengar, Anusara and Integral, are rooted in the system of Raja Yoga.