Raja or Ashtanga Yoga and Hatha Yoga

School of Yoga explains Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga

  •  Raja yoga and Hatha yoga systems are related.
  • Both require the understanding of the subtle energy called kundalini which falls under the category of tantra, an ancient Indian concept based on the intertwining of Siva with Shakti.
  • Generally, since Siva is the static element, the practice centers around Shakti, the mobile and creative principal and this practice is called Srividya”.
  • The practice of Srividya revolves around the awakening of the Kundalini from its position in the mooladhara and guiding it to its union with Siva at the sahasrara.
  • In fact, both yoga systems have much in common but both use different approaches.
  • Also, both systems use asana, pranayama and dhyana as tools to reach Samadhi.
  • However, the preparation process in each system is different.

School of Yoga explains the difference between Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga:

Hatha Yoga

Raja Yoga

External system of preparation, also called kaula marga (noble path) Internal system of preparation, also called samaya marga (time path)
Coerces kundalini from mooladhara to sahasrara Coaxes kundalini from mooladhara to sahasrara
Kaula marga considers Siva static, emphasis more on Shakti, the creative energy. Samaya marga advocates the sameness of Siva and Shakti.
Individual’s preparation consists of shatkriya, mudra, yantra, beej-mantra. Individual’s preparation consists of yama and niyama
Based on 64 tantras Based on 8 steps or ashtanga

School of Yoga explains Hatha Yoga

Hatha Yoga (Hatha = coercing + yoga). is a form of yoga practice where the kundalini is coerced to move from the mooladhara to the sahasrara.

This is a metaphysical system of achieving salvation. In Hatha Yoga, the body, cognitive apparatus, endocrine, circulatory and nervous systems are optimised. Thereafter, the kundalini energy is forced through the central channel or sushumna nadi to the sahasrara. However, this is different other forms of yoga practices which focus on isolating the identity through conventional means. Incidentally, there is no western equivalent or logic which can explain the subtle energy movement in Hatha Yoga.


Chakra Spinal area Function


Prana Ajna   Ingestion and life Trataka
Apana Svadishtana Sacral Sexuality Nauli
Vyana Anahata Thoracic Circulation Kapalabhati
Udana Vishuddhi Cervix Nervous Neti
Samana Manipura Lumbar Digestion Dhauti
Brahmana Mooladhara Coccyx Excretion Basti

School of Yoga explains preparation tools in Hatha Yoga:

Shatkriya: or Shatkarma (shat = 6 + kriya = actions) are 6 cleaning actions which are used to prepare the body. They are neti, dhauti, nauli, trataka and kapalabhati. Additionally, to understand why these 6 exercises are considered important hatha yoga cleansing exercises, one should understand the vayus. Vayus are forces or energies which control certain bodily functions. Finally, the table below shows the correlation between the vayus and the shatkriya

Mudra: This aspect of Hatha Yoga is used to control the flow of prana. Additionally, it’s important to recognize that prana, like any flow, operates in a circuit. When it reaches the ends of the body, it has to either flow out or back into the body. Consequently, when it flows out, it is lost. However, when it is directed into the body, it acts like a capacitor, increasing prana levels in the system. 

Hatha Yoga Pradeepika – Chapter 3 explains Mudra in great detail.

Yantra: The use of yantra is more difficult to explain. Yantra are diagrams which have specific meanings for delivery of certain results.

Mantra: Mantras are very relevant to development in hatha yoga. Mantras are used to isolate the visual and kinesthetic elements of consciousness by use of repetitive audio stimuli. As a result, the brain into a soporific state and isolates the senses.

Importantly, there are certain syllables and sounds which activate certain chakras. These are called beejakshara mantras and are learned under a Guru.

School of Yoga explains Raja Yoga (King of Yoga or Eight Limbed Yoga)

Raja Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga is considered to be the Raja (king) among yoga shastras (a text of experience) because the king works at a material level. Consequently, this yoga is more attuned to normal living without having to go deep into spiritual life. By design, it has two levels- a basic activity based experience (Kriya Yoga) and an advanced internalisation experience (Dhyana Yoga).

This discipline is one of the most comprehensive and complete tools for improving situation awareness.

School of Yoga – Kriya Yoga has 5 parts;

Yama Transaction or behaviour Control – This is based on managing transactions or response to stimulus with the external surroundings with the intent of reducing agitation.

NiYama Self Control – Ability to manage the turbulence generated by change within our personality.

Asana Preparing the body, cleansing and making it physically fit for meeting challenges which come with internal and external change. Additionally, asanas help in managing the fallout of change and in reducing associated stress levels.

Pranayama – This compound word simply means – discipline in breathing. This discipline makes breathing, which is an unconscious and reflex action into a conscious and controlled one.

Pratyahara – In this step, there is active isolation of the senses. Consequently, the practitioner tries to stop stimuli from increasing agitation within the logical and emotional framework. In fact, this state is the basis for further development in Yoga, the practice of dhyana, dharana and samadhi.

Points to ponder on Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga;

Internal Tags: Dharma (conditioning)Stress and Situational AwarenessStress and pranaAwareness measuresHatha Yoga PradeepikaPatanjali Yoga SutraJnana YogaBhakti Yoga

External Tags: Consciousness

  • Do you understand Hatha Yoga? What is Raja Yoga
  • How does kundalini energy operate? What is prana?
  • What is common and what are the differences between Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga?
  • In Hatha Yoga, what are shatkriya, mudra, yantra and mantra?


Editor at School Of Yoga
School Of Yoga is a single point resource for all aspects of Classical Yoga practise. We try to achieve this by placing Yoga's traditional methodology in front of the reader and eliciting his or her experience. We value everyone's Yoga experience and would like you to share and enrich other practitioners so that everyone benefits.
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[…] on Yoga, touching on various subjects which form to become Yoga. The section then concentrates on Raja Yoga, but skips the asana aspect while laying enormous emphasis on pranayama and […]

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