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How to Practice Dharana: A Guide to the Sixth Limb of Yoga

the eight limbs of yoga
The 6th Limb of Yoga Dharana

The end of multi-tasking

Dharana / Deep Concentration is the binding of the mind to one place, object or idea ~ Yoga Sutras 3.1

 If you'd like to dive deeper into the other Limbs, I have written the additional blogs below so far:

1st Limb of Yoga - The Yamas

  1. Ahimsa/ NonViolence
  2. Satya/ Truthfulness
  3. Asteya/ NonStealing
  4. Brahmacharya/ NonExcess
  5. Aparigraha/ NonAttachment

2nd Limb of Yoga - The Niyamas

  1. Saucha / Purification
  2. Santosha / Contentment
  3. Tapas / Discipline
  4. Svadhyaya / Self Study - coming soon!
  5. Ishvara Prandihana / Surrender - coming soon!

3rd Limb of Yoga - coming soon!

4th Limb of Yoga - coming soon!

6th Limb of Yoga - Dharana

7th Limb of Yoga - Dhyana

8th Limb of Yoga - Samadhi

Complete Focus

Can you remember the last time you felt totally focused? Maybe during an activity like reading, writing, dancing, surfing, or playing an instrument?

We often feel a sense of peace while performing activities that require intense focus because the mind gets to do what is was made to do, concentrate on one thing at a time.

The mind is a muscle we can train, and we strengthen it by noticing when we are not present - thinking about the past or future - and bringing it back with the breath. 
You can start to integrate this practice into your life by... when you eat, just eat, and avoid browsing the Internet at the same time. When you go out for a walk, just walk sometimes, and avoid talking to someone on the phone.

The End of Multitasking

Dharana essentially becomes the end of multi-tasking, being, and thinking. 
I was reminded of Dharana in class one day when the music stopped playing. Once I realized it wasn’t coming back on, I let it go and settled into the sound of my voice.
I was then able to tune in more to the present moment, the practice, my students breathing, the alignment cues, and the overall energy in the room.
It was pure magic.
To make it even better, almost every student told me after class how much they enjoyed it, as it allowed them to focus and concentrate more.
My entire 300hr advanced teacher training was without music, so I was again brought back to those magical moments in Bali, with only sounds of nature and the breath, and I started to realize how much I actually enjoyed silence as a way to embody Dharana more in my life now.  
I love music, but even instrumental background music while I work, drive, or do other tasks, can sometimes cause me to feel flustered or overwhelmed.
We don't realize how much overload our sensory organs are on until we start practicing the 5th Limb of Yoga - Pratyahara - and activating and deactivating the 5 senses to help us withdraw distractions.
I want to hear my breath, stay aware of what's serving and what's not, and I often need silence for that. 
It's also beneficial to understand that Dharana is an essential step in learning how to meditate and practicing all 8 Limbs of Yoga.
We first deepen our relationship with the external world with the first Limb, then we deepen our relationship with ourselves with the second Limb, then comes the third and fourth Limbs, poses and breathing, to calm the fluctuations of energy in the body, then we withdraw distractions with the fifth Limb, and arrive at the sixth Limb of intense focus on one thing.
Once we start to consistently practice all these steps, intense focus on nothing becomes available to us, and then we have entered into the seventh Limb, Dhyana, a passive form of meditation where only stillness and silence exist.
This is an advanced form of meditation, so don't start here.
Start your meditation journey with more active forms... object or candle gazing, sound healing, or Pratyahara and Dharana.



Deep concentration on one thing or active forms of meditation can be uncomfortable at first, as they allows thoughts, feelings and sensations to arise that might have been buried for years. But once you get a glimpse of the peace it provides, and how it can help you access more passive states of meditation, you realize how beneficial it truly is.

Want to learn more about Dharana and all 8 Limbs of Yoga in a fun virtual community that includes live classes, videos you help create, and more?


Check out the 8 Limbs Yoga Tribe