Raja Yoga

Patanjali Maharishi
Raja Yoga  is the "Royal" path, which generally refers to The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, otherwise known as my favorite book!

Although Patanjali himself does not refer to his writings as "Raja Yoga", his Sutras teach the path of meditation and the control of negative thoughts; the ascension of energy toward the Crown Chakra (Sahasrara).

The Yoga Sutra contains four chapters or Padas (feet) like the legs of a table, which establish and stabalize the practice of yoga in four parts:
  1. Samadhi Pada - The Chapter on Meditation
  2. Sadhana Pada - The Chapter on Practice
  3. Vibhuti Pada - The Chapter on Yogic Powers
  4. Kaivalya Pada - The Chapter on Liberation
I have studied The Yoga Sutras mostly from the perspectives of three different lineages with three different methods and interpretations.
  • Advaita Vedanta and the Sivananda lineage thanks to Swami Swaroopananda.
  • The Tibetan Buddhist perspective represented by Geshe Michael Roach, Lama Christie McNally and Lama Marut.
  • And the Krishnamacharya lineage as per Srivatsa Ramaswami. 
Many of you ask what my favorite translations are, so here are a few:

Meditation and Mantras
Swami Vishnudevananda

The Essential Yoga Sutra: Ancient Wisdom for Your Yoga
Geshe Michael Roach and Lama Christie McNally
Click here for a PDF of the entire text.
How Yoga Works
Geshe Michael Roach and Lama Christie McNally
Yoga, Power, and Spirit: Patanjali the Shaman
Alberto Villoldo, Ph. D.
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
Alistair Shearer

Some of them are in the Devanagari script with Roman transliteration and some offer only the translation. 

In case you're not clear on the difference, here's a little chart from Sanskrit scholar Nicolai Bachman to illustrate the difference:

My favorite chanted version of the Sutras is by Srivatsa Ramaswami, in The Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga.  The Yoga Sutras are mysteriously absent in the text, but found on a cd at the back of a book.
The Complete Book Of Vinyasa Yoga: The Authoritative Presentation-Based on 30 Years Of Direct Study Under the Legendary Yoga Teacher Krishnamacha
Check out this 1938 footage of Krishnamacharya with chanting of the Yoga Sutras:

Free Online Resources:

To view a PDF document of the whole Yoga Sutra in Devanagari and transliterated Roman script click here.

 To hear each sutra chanted click here.

I love the way the sutras are broken down here on swamij.com.

Georg Feuerstein has a nice translation in his Yoga Teacher Training Manual.

And I love the poetic translations at rainbowbody.net.

Plus, here are two more for you to enjoy, shared recently by our friend Perry:

 Raja Yoga, The Yoga Sutra's of Patanjali. by Shri Yogacharya Ajita.