Our hope in providing a studio theme at Kula each month is to deepen your understanding of the philosophy behind yoga, so you can start living yoga both on and off the mat. This year we will be exploring the traditional 8 Limbs of Yoga. The practice of yoga is an art and science dedicated to creating union between the body, mind and spirit. These eight steps basically act as a guideline on how to live a meaningful and purposeful life. Our April focus is Dharana, or concentration.
The present moment is the only moment available to us, and it is the door to all moments.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
What is Dharana?
It’s more than just a concept, it’s a practice, and rather a difficult one. Often referred to as “concentration”, it translates to “the binding of consciousness to a [single] spot.” Dharana, the 6th limb of yoga, is the practice of concentration or focus, which prepares us for meditation. It exists when someone is truly present in the moment or focused on an activity or object. In a world where we strive towards the ability to multi-task, to have a singular focus can be quite a challenge.
Dharana ~ On The Mat
In yoga we are often taught to meditate by focusing on the breath, on a mantra, on an image or on the direction of a yoga teacher guiding our thoughts. As a society, we find it challenging to have a single focus as our lives have become so busy, used to jumping from one thought to another. As a result, one part of our yoga practice which students often find the most challenging is savasana. During savasana, where there is no movement and little direction to distract the mind, we often notice just how busy and un-still the mind can be. Rather than using distraction to focus the mind here, we rely on our ability to use Dharana or a single pointed focus, letting go of our thoughts. Being able to still our thoughts leads us onto the next limb of yoga, Dhyana or meditation.
Dharana ~ In Life
In life we see dharana at its most effective when someone is completely focused in the moment, void of all other distractions. We see this when a musician is focused on the music, to the exclusion of all else, or an athlete concentrates on a critical moment in a match. As yogi’s we strive for this level of concentration in the practice of our asana (physical practice), pranayama (breathing exercises) and meditation. In life, we can apply this to any everyday action or object if we are fully present. Whether that be driving the car, focusing on the road without distraction, eating dinner without the TV on in the background or any action where you find yourself multi-tasking and therefore not completely focused on one activity. It can also be a way of curing inner conflict as when you are truly focused on a single point, you cannot be in two minds.
Reflect on your own life off the mat ~ where could you be more present?
About the author: Andy Broadbear is a qualified yoga teacher & therapist, who specialises in pre + postnatal yoga, and studio assistant at Kula. She is also a mum of two, health & wellness blogger and hobby photographer.
Kula Yoga has a beautiful hot yoga studio on Camberwell Rd, Hawthorn, Melbourne. Kula offers ‘Hot Yoga’ classes for detoxification, dynamic poweryoga ‘Flow Yoga’ as well as a gentle ‘Light Yin Yoga’ option. Beginners through to advanced students are welcome to all classes. Kula also provides prenatal & postnatal yoga classes, and provides Melbourne workplaces with group corporate yoga programs to build employee health, fitness and wellbeing, and school yoga programs. Kula also runs an annual ‘Kula Cruise’ yoga retreat sailing from Bali to Lombok & the Gili Islands. Find out more on our website www.kulayoga.com.au. Or follow us:
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