Happy Monday before Christmas, friends! This time of year can have so much significance for us. Kids home from school. Time off from work. Inordinate amounts of time spent with family. For some, this can be a painful time of year, missing loved ones and dealing with loneliness and sadness. Many, myself included, have a marathon week of getting shopping done, gifts wrapped and staying focused on the many tasks at hand.
If you’ve been following our blog weekly, you’ll know that we’ve been covering Ashtanga yoga – the eight limbed path of yoga. Below is a quick recap of the previous five limbs that we’ve disussed.
- Yamas – the guidelines for social behavior: clean your home
- Niyamas – self-disciplines: reverence for your home
- Asanas – yoga poses: start to settle into your home
- Pranayama – breath control, life energy: animate your home
- Pratyahara – the withdrawal of external senses, to rest in your home.
As each stage prepares us for the next, the practice of pratyahara creates the setting for dharana, or immovable concentration of the mind. The root of the word is “dhar” which means to hold, maintain or keep. As the sixth limb of yoga, dharana is the practice of holding one’s mind onto a particular inner state or topic. We fix the mind on a single pointed focus, such as breath, the small space above the upper lip, or navel, without allowing the mind to wander through memories, reflective thoughts, bodily sensations.
Through the disciplines of the previous limbs, we’ve definitely begun to develop our powers of concentration. Through yamas and niyamas, we’ve begun directing our attention. Through asanas, we have begun to temper the body and focus on specific and more subtle sensations. Through pranayama, we begin the task of refining our minds. Through pratyahara, we bring our senses under control and are still enough to become more observant of the mind. In dharana, concentration on a single point becomes effortless. You know the mind is concentrating when there is no sense of time passing. Extended periods of concentration naturally lead to meditation or dhyana, which is the seventh limb of yoga.
Now we truly begin to unleash the great potential for inner healing.
On behalf of all of the staff, teachers and management of YBD, we truly wish you a very Merry Christmas!