Mindfulness meditation – and Raja Yoga – study our sense of self. (Hardcore Raja Yogis will add the line “…and the sense of Self” to this!)
The sense of self – at a physical level – is the part that resolves logic and emotion. When it works well, we see both sides and act from a balanced point of view. We can take balanced care of all our needs. Moving forward in the best interests of all is the truth of any situation. Mindfulness meditation – and Raja Yoga – look at how to do this all the time.
Dogs can hear much better than people, owls can see much better, etc etc. Our way of seeing the world has its limits. But people always act as if their own assessment of a situation is correct. Mindfulness and meditation practices help us use our thoughts, feelings, desires and dislikes as ways to inform our choices, rather than being the deciding factors.
To stay in this intuitive, balanced space requires concentration, and Raja Yoga specifically includes practices to build concentration skills. When we concentrate, we get engrossed – like when reading a good book, we can easily forget what the time is.
This is important. When we become engrossed in our own intuition, we get entirely absorbed in it – like getting absorbed in a book. Then we don’t feel separate from what we’re doing. Me and the things I do are one and the same thing, and that’s Yoga (or Union) by anyone’s definition. In fact, it’s the supreme “Royal” (or Raja) Yoga spoken of in many Yoga texts, the most notable of which (in the West) is The Yoga Sutras by Patanjali.
Steadiness is really important. A person needs to be working towards good health if they want to focus on making life less tricky. This can imply lifestyle changes. Some people have long term health issues. That shouldn’t be a barrier to progress – it’ll impact and be impacted by lifestyle. Steadiness of body goes along with a growing steadiness of mind.
This is a long way of saying that physical Yoga, and Hot Yoga, are excellent ways to explore and develop concentration and purpose. A Yogafurie Hot Yoga class typically settles your breath to settle your mind and emotions. Then the teacher leads you through practice, pointing physical sensations as you go. You concentrate on how you feel. This sets the scene for mindfulness practice, and the meditation that comes from it. In many ways, a modern physical class like this is your entry point to the deeper practices of Raja Yoga.