The Eight Limbs of Yoga No.7 - Dhyana
Dhyana is the seventh limb in our eight limbs of yoga, and it is the goal of meditation. Meditation is the practice of quietening the mind. You may already be quite familiar with meditation, maybe it's something you've been doing even before you started going to a yoga class. Or maybe you're still quite new to meditation, and want to learn more about it. I am going to write a little about why meditation is so helpful and beneficial, and definitely something you should try outside of your yoga class. Dhyana refers to the state you are in after meditation, a quiet, calm state, where you can flow through your day and life with ease.
Different Types of Meditation
If you're new to meditation, you may not be sure of where to start. Below, I'll list a few different types of meditation that are great for beginners.
Focused Meditation- This is the type of meditation where you focus on a specific thing, whether that be a sound, mantra, image or object. I wrote more about this specific style of meditation in my last blog post about the sixth limb of yoga, Dharana. This is because Dharana specifically relates to immovable concentration, and the best way to practice this is with a focused meditation. This practice is great for beginners, as it doesn't have to be done for too long each time, just maybe a few minutes each day. It helps improve concentration greatly, and in turn the mind will become more quiet.
Mindfulness Meditation- The practice of mindfulness is extremely beneficial, especially for a mind that can't seem to calm down. In mindfulness, we are basically becoming aware of all of our surroundings, being fully aware of the present moment. We're not focusing on anything specific, but more focusing on being fully present, and keeping the mind quiet throughout. Not letting the external noise distract our internal peace. This can be quite challenging at first, as the mind can be like a wild horse and constantly want to wander off in places. But the more we practice mindfulness, the easier it is to keep the mind still. I wrote in my post about Pratyahara, the fifth yoga limb, about the similarities between mindfulness and Pratyahara, and how they are basically one in the same practice. I tend to teach mindfulness meditation the most in my yoga classes, as it combines a good few of the eight yoga limbs. It is also very highly recommended by doctors and medical professionals.
Guided Meditation- Exactly what it says on the box. In this style of meditation, you would be guided through it. Guided meditations can include body scan meditations, visualisation meditations, and meditations relating to specific things e.g anxiety, new moon, affirmations etc. This is a good style if you are a beginner, as you can practice anything from 5 minutes to an hour, and it requires minimal effort as you are being guided through it. There are many guided meditations on YouTube you can try (Including on my own channel!) , and I also highly recommend the Headspace app for practicing meditation if you're new.
Being in a state of Dhyana helps our lives in so many ways. It can help our reactions to stressful situations, help us to manage stress, focus on the present and reduce worry, I could go on. From an anxiety perspective, a regular meditation practice has helped me find better ways of coping with my condition, and made everyday life a lot easier. This is why I never miss meditation out in my yoga classes, it really is so important.
I hope this short post has given you a bit of a better understanding of Dhyana and meditation, and how they go hand in hand to enhance your yoga practice. Bringing meditation outside your weekly yoga class and into your daily life can be challenging (I'm still working on it myself!), but extremely rewarding in bringing you into the state of Dhyana, and eventually, the state of Samadhi, which we will talk about next week. Until then, have a wonderful week! Feel free to follow my journey below, if you don't already.
Header Photo by Sloniowska Photography