At 8 Limbs we are examining each of the 8 Limbs, one month at a time, through this Blog, in classes, and in the Many Paths Teacher Panels (1st Sunday of each month at 6:30pm). Our subject this month is Dharana, the 6th limbs of yoga, which can be translated as concentration, or “the ability to stay.” Dharana is the precursor to dhyana, meditation, the 7th limb off yoga.
The root of the word Dharana is to hold or to stay. It refers to the training and ability of our minds to focus on one subject. As anyone who has tried to stop thinking knows, it’s next to impossible. Our mind constantly sends us “status updates” and comparisons, and messages to ensure our survival and the survival of our ego. It takes discipline, and focus (gleamed from the first five limbs of yoga) to be able to rein it in and truly collect our attention in one direction.
Dharana, essentially means single-pointed concentration. It involves bringing our attention to a concrete, physical point of focus. While developing the capacity to shift our attention towards, and sustain attention on, a single point of concentration we are in turn, preparing ourselves for practices such meditation (or the 6th limb, Dhyana.)
Below you’ll find suggestions forsome additional simple practices you can do, on your own, or in class, to help cultivate your capacity for Dharana.
- Bring a soft gaze to a specific stationary focal point, or Drishdi in front of you. This can be particularly helpful in balancing poses.
- Bring a soft gaze to a candlelight in front of you, another form of Drishdi. Many find this to be helpful during meditation practices.
- Redirect your attention to your breath. There’s a reason teachers prompt us so frequently to do this, it helps bring us back into the present moment.
- Notice which parts of your body are in contact with something and how exactly and specifically that feels. Maybe it’s the coolness of a hard floor beneath each toe. Maybe it’s the sensation of sitting atop a rolled blanket. Maybe it’s your hand resting against the familiar fabric of your pants. This can be a very grounding experience.
- Place your hand on a particular part of your body and then breathe into that part of your body. Is it possible to expand that part of your body through breath so that your hand moves?
Join us on Sunday, March 2 at 6:30pm at 8 Limbs West Seattle for our next Many Paths Teacher Panel to hear from 8 Limbs instructors Alex Baker, Jen Mullholand and Lance Westendarp about their experience of Dharana, plus any questions you participants bring in. Free, with snacks! Bring a friend!
Posted by: 8 Limbs