This week on the blog, I'm introducing you to the sixth limb in the eight limb system of yoga. This limb is called Dharana, and it translates to immovable concentration. This limb is often the first step in the last three limbs of yoga, and the three of them are often studied together. So in that respect, this won't be a terribly long post. Just a simple explanation of why this practice is important in our yoga, and a few easy ways to practice it.
Dharana is basically the first step in a meditation practice. Meditation is actually the seventh limb, Dhyana, which we will cover in next week's post. I'd say most of us know how to practice Dharana already. You could say I am practicing it right now, by concentrating wholly on writing this post. When you are at work and are fast approaching a deadline, you practice Dharana by concentrating fully on the work you need to do by that certain time. (Of course, this example isn't the most peaceful one!) You might notice a musician practicing Dharana, concentrating immovably on the notes and the song they are playing. Most familiarly in your yoga asana practice, you will probably often hear 'focus your attention on an unmoving spot' or 'Bring the attention to the chest rising and falling as you breathe'. These are forms of Dharana that show up in your yoga practice. Being able to focus your attention fully on something, without letting external distractions bring that attention away.
Simple Dharana Practices
I won't go into too much detail here, as most of these are forms of meditation which I'm going to go into much more detail about in my next blog post. But these are some simple practices if you would like to improve your concentration and making practicing Dharana all that easier.
Trataka- Candle Gazing
-Focusing all your attention on an object is one of the most common ways to practice Dharana and improve your concentration. A good, and quite relaxing way to do this, is to practice Trataka. Trataka is a candle gazing meditation. Simply light a candle, and focus all your attention on the flame of that candle. This practice is incredibly calming, and is a great way to practice keeping focus and concentration. It's also said that different coloured flames can help different things, such as opening chakras and helping ease certain ailments. This can also be done as a visualisation, if you don't have a physical candle there.
- Mentally repeating or chanting certain mantras can be a great way to practice Dharana. The most common in yoga is the mantra OM (pronounced AUM). This sound is said to be the sound of the universe. It symbolises the vibrations carried by every object on this planet, and in the universe. When chanting it, you can feel these vibrations moving through your body. It may feel a little silly at first if you're not used to chanting, but keep trying and I promise you will feel the benefits of chanting.
- Pranayama practice, our fourth limb, is often a practice of Dharana too. It really is amazing how all the limbs link to each other! Simply concentrating on your breath is a great way to practice concentration. Dirga Swasam Pranayama, the full yoga breath is one of my favourite ways to practice breathing. It is a type of breathing that requires a conscious effort, and therefore requires immovable concentration.
I hope this post has helped you learn a little more about the sixth limb of yoga, Dharana. My next post will be all about Dhyana, meditation, so stay tuned for that. I hope you've enjoyed reading today, feel free to follow my socials below! Becca x
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