When starting yoga you may have thought that Asanas, breathing and a bit of meditation were what it was all about.
Well there is more to it than those, in total there are 8 limbs or perhaps steps:
- Yama : Universal morality
- Niyama : Personal observances
- Asanas : Body postures
- Pranayama : Breathing exercises, and control of prana
- Pratyahara : Control of the senses
- Dharana : Concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness
- Dhyana : Devotion, Meditation on the Divine
- Samadhi : Union with the Divine
These 8 steps when followed enable the union of mind and body.
I’m going to pick Dharana as the focus (no pun intended!) as mastering this step can help you achieve many things. Dharana is about concentration, having a single focus that you apply all your energy and abilities to achieving. When trying to achieve this single-minded concentration its necessary to block out all distractions whether they be thoughts or physical aspects, whatever happens around you remain focused.
Some ways to help this is by visualising success within your mind, by visualising your goal you bring focus, identify potential distractions and can subsequently remove them from your thoughts. The ability to concentrate in this way can be improved through mediation on an object such as a flower, candle flame, the nature of the object doesn’t really matter but helps to give you a focal point and keep out those stray thoughts.
The next time you cannot sleep focus on a single sheep or if you have a task at work visualise the task completed. Using Dharana can help you in yoga and life.
Jason Wells, Jan 2017, 200hr Yoga TTC