Our minds, they are tough to control. I know mine is! And that’s why I’m a yoga practitioner. When I was introduced to the practice in 1996 it was immediately clear that the combination of postures, with attention to breath, gave me a clearer mind, one more able to focus and concentrate. I was able to pay better attention in general (something I’ve always struggled with), to others, to the present moment, and rein in the constant movement of my mind. Ever since, I’ve been a practitioner of the eight-limbed (aṣṭa-anga) path of yoga.
For more than a year we’ve been unpacking the eight limbs of yoga in monthly newsletters and blogs. After spending a month on each of the 5 yamas and 5 niyamas, we’ve moved through the first five limbs in the fall of 2020, and enter 2021 with the sixth limb, dhāraṇā. To view all of our blogs about the 1st two limbs click here. 3rd limb, āsana, 4th limb, prānāyāma, 5th limb, pratyāhāra.
This month we come to the sixth limb, dhāraṇā. The root of this word, dhri, means to hold, carry, maintain, resolve. The most common translation of dhāraṇā is “concentration”, and folks also use “holding”, “holding steady”, “to gather” and “single focus.” The practices that precede dhāraṇā make this possible. Through the first five limbs we become more able to pay attention, to focus, and be centered. As we hold our attention, dhāraṇā holds us.
The word concentrate can seem very concrete and dense, but when you, well, concentrate on it, something more subtle is revealed. Its original meaning was to bring to center. When we concentrate, we come into our center.
This New Year’s Day, you may choose to start 2021 with resolutions or resolve. Might you also consider simply coming to your center? What does that mean to you? What does it feel like? And how can you bring it into the coming year?
We at 8 Limbs Yoga Centers wish you all a very Happy New Year. We look forward to seeing you lots, and coming to center, together.