Monday, September 22, 2014

Dharana (Patanjali's 8 Limbs of Yoga)

Image Courtesy of Yoga Philosophy Page

Dharana - 6th Limb

The 6th limb of patanjali yogsutra is dharana or concentration , the previous limbs are mentioned in the previous posts 

Dharana (concentration) is the process of holding or fixing the attention of mind onto one object or place, and is the sixth of the eight limbs . concentration and meditation have minute difference The repeated continuation, or uninterrupted stream of that one point of focus is called absorption in meditation (dhyana), and is the seventh of the eight steps . The repeated continuation, or uninterrupted stream of that one point of focus is called absorption in meditation (dhyana), and is the seventh of the eight limbs , there is minute difference bw concentration and meditation , The repeated concentration on the one object of concentration is meditation. Typically, there is a moment of concentration, when there are no distractions. Then, a moment later a distraction comes. Then, attention lets go of the distraction, and returns to the object of concentration. However, when that distraction does not happen, the continued concentration on the one object is called meditation. meditation is a process which comes from within , you can do concentration but you cannot do meditation , meditation comes naturally after deep practice of concentration .
Dharana is the initial step of deep concentrative meditation, where the object being focused upon is held in the mind without consciousness wavering from it. The difference between Dharaṇa, Dhyana, and Samadhi (the three together constituting Samyama) is that in the former, the object of meditation, the meditator, and the act of meditation itself remain separate. That is, the meditator or the meditator's meta-awareness is conscious of meditating (that is, is conscious of the act of meditation) on an object, and of his or her own self, which is concentrating on the object. In the subsequent stage of Dhyāna, as the meditator becomes more advanced, consciousness of the act of meditation disappears, and only the consciousness of being/existing and the object of concentration exist (in the mind). In the final stage of Samādhi, the ego-mind also dissolves, and the meditator becomes one with the object. 
Dharana is the fixing of the mind on something external or internal. The mind can be fixed externally on the picture of Lord Krishna or Lord shiva or on any other object or point. Internally it can be fixed on any Chakra or any part of the body or on any abstract idea. Having controlled the Prana through Pranayama and the Indriyas through Pratyahara, you should try to fix the mind on something. In Dharana you will have only one Vritti or wave in the mind-lake. The mind assumes the form of only one object. All other operations of the mind are suspended or stopped. Different objects of Dharana and their effects are given in the subsequent lessons. According to the Hatha Yogic school, a Yogi who can suspend his breath by Kumbhaka for 20 minutes can have a very good Dharana. He will have tranquillity of mind. Pranayama steadies the mind, removes the Vikshepa and increases the power of concentration. Fixing the mind on something is Dharana or concentration of mind. Dharana can be done only if you are free from the distractions of mind. 

Pratyahara (Patanjali's 8 Limbs of Yoga)


Image Courtesy of Yoga Philosophy Page
Image Courtesy of Yoga Philosophy Page

Pratyahara - 5th Limb

The 5th limb of yoga is pratyahara or sense withdrawal , we have discussed the 4 limbs of yogsutras that is yama, niyama, asana, pranayama in the previous posts , now we here are discussing abt pratyahara , pratyahara itself is termed as Yoga, as it is the most important limb in Yoga Sadhana. - Swami Shivananda

pratyahara is a process to go beyond the 5 senses and the mind ,Pratyahara is related to all the limbs of yoga. All of the other limbs — from asana to samadhi contain aspects of pratyahara. For example, in the sitting poses, which are the most important aspect of asana, both the sensory and motor organs are controlled. Pranayama contains an element of pratyahara as we draw our attention inward through the breath. Yama and niyama contain various principles and practices, like non-violence and contentment, that help us control the senses. In other words, pratyahara provides the foundation for the higher practices of yoga and is the basis for meditation. It follows pranayama (or control of prana) and, by linking prana with the mind, takes it out of the sphere of the body.

When the mental organs of senses and actions (indriyas) cease to be engaged with the corresponding objects in their mental realm, and assimilate or turn back into the mind-field from which they arose, this is called pratyahara, and is the fifth step.
(sva vishaya asamprayoge chittasya svarupe anukarah iva indriyanam pratyaharah) 

1) Control of the Senses (Indriya-pratyahara) - yoni mudra is one of the most important pratyahara techniques for closing the senses. It involves using the fingers to block the sensory openings in the head — the eyes, ears, nostrils, and mouth — and allowing the attention and energy to move within. It is done for short periods of time when our prana is energized, such as immediately after practicing pranayama. (Naturally we should avoid closing the mouth and nose to the point at which we starve ourselves of oxygen.) , Another method of sense withdrawal is to keep our sense organs open but withdraw our attention from them. In this way we cease taking in impressions without actually closing off our sense organs. The most common method, shambhavi mudra, consists of sitting with the eyes open while directing the attention within, a technique used in several Buddhist systems of meditation as well. This redirection of the senses inward can be done with the other senses as well, particularly with the sense of hearing. It helps us control our mind even when the senses are functioning, as they are during the normal course of the day. Focusing on Uniform Impressions
Another way to cleanse the mind and control the senses is to put our attention on a source of uniform impressions, such as gazing at the ocean or the blue sky. Just as the digestive system gets short-circuited by irregular eating habits and contrary food qualities, our ability to digest impressions can be deranged by jarring or excessive impressions. And just as improving our digestion may require going on a mono-diet, like the ayurvedic use of rice and mung beans (kicharee), so our mental digestion may require a diet of natural but homogeneous impressions. This technique is often helpful after a period of fasting from impressions.
Creating Positive Impressions -
Another means of controlling the senses is to create positive, natural impressions. There are a number of ways to do this: meditating upon aspects of nature such as trees, flowers, or rocks, as well as visiting temples or other places of pilgrimage which are repositories of positive impressions and thoughts. Positive impressions can also be created by using incense, flowers, ghee lamps, altars, statues, and other artifacts of devotional worship.

The big step


Portsmouth, England, United Kingdom. (Photographed by Me)

Been quiet for awfully long time. My apologies for that. It has been a whole lot of a roller coaster ride prepping for this trip hence I could not concentrate on any writing mean time. I am finally here after more than a decade of dreaming about this. Finally furthering my masters degree in a foreign country. 

There were a couple of things that i always told myself that i should strike off before i enter my 30s. As the years passed by, i managed to get a couple of things done, but just one was not quite getting there. That was my aim to further my masters abroad. At a point in life, i thought i should just give it up and maybe just get a certification or something, or even a part time degree locally. But the thought itself did not give me the satisfaction. I was almost aimless as to what i want in life and how i would go about it.

It was when yoga came into place and i boarded for the most thrilling roller coaster ride i could ever had been. 

From not knowing where i stand and which path should i take, i went through a series of events that slowly began to hit me with what i always wanted in life and where i should be heading too. Like Master always said, it is the inner desire, the desire of the inner self that matters the most. Guess i was really lost, as it took me 2 years to be where i am today. 

I would tell how this whole thought of abroad studies suddenly popped out from inside the box despite all the risk and issues that i thought would be a hindrance, it just fell into place, but that is entirely another chapter, we shall save that for another day.

Nevertheless, i am here today, somewhere i thought i would never be, something i thought was never possible, that one aim that was left to fulfil before my 30s, it is all happening and it will all fall beautifully into place.

Everything you want in life, every pain you face in life, has a reason and the power to make it happen lies in you. You just have got to listen to yourself really carefully, and want what you want a little bit stronger than ever.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Pranayama (Patananjali's 8 limbs of Yoga)


Pranayama - 4th Limb

The fourth of the eight rungs of Yoga is Pranayama, which is regulating the breath so as to make it slow and subtle , leading to the experience of the steady flow of energy (prana), which is beyond or underneath exhalation, inhalation, and the transitions between them

Posture is the prerequisite: To successfully practice and attain the full benefits of breath control and pranayama, it is necessary that it be built on the solid foundation of a steady and comfortable sitting posture . Pranayama is preparation for concentration: Through these practices and processes of pranayama the mind acquires or develops the fitness, qualification, or capability for concentration (dharana), which is the sixth limb

Once that perfected posture has been achieved, the slowing or braking of the force behind, and of unregulated movement of inhalation and exhalation is called breath control and expansion of prana (pranayama), which leads to the absence of the awareness of both, and is the fourth of the eight rungs.
(tasmin sati shvasa prashvsayoh gati vichchhedah pranayamah)

That pranayama has three aspects of external or outward flow (exhalation), internal or inward flow (inhalation), and the third, which is the absence of both during the transition between them, and is known as fixedness, retention, or suspension. These are regulated by place, time, and number, with breath becoming slow and subtle.
(bahya abhyantara stambha vrittih desha kala sankhyabhih paridrishtah dirgha sukshmah)

Three aspects of breath and prana are trained when doing any of the specific breathing practices:

1)Exhalation: Training the exhalation is removing the jerkiness, allowing the flow to be slow and deep, as well as diaphragmatic.

2)Inhalation: Training the exhalation also means eliminating jerkiness, breathing slowly, and using the diaphragm.

3)Transition: Between exhalation and inhalation, and between inhalation and exhalation there is a transition, which is experienced as suspension, retention, or cessation, etc. The training of the transition is to make it very smooth, as if there were no pause at all. Between exhalation and inhalation there is a transition when one is neither exhaling nor inhaling. Between inhalation and exhalation there is also a transition when one is neither inhaling nor exhaling.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Asana (Patanjali's 8 Limbs of Yoga)


Asana - 3rd Limb

Yoga has been defined as the mastery of the thought patterns of mind field , so that Self-realization can be experienced To be able to do the meditation practices that allow this, it is essential that the posture be Steady, and Comfortable . In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali suggests that the only requirement for practicing asanas is that it be "steady and comfortable"

It is very important to understand that asanas are not exercises. Yogis have always understood that the physical body has a whole memory structure. Everything – from how this cosmos evolved from nothingness up to this point – is just written into this body. So when we do asanas, we are opening up that memory and trying to restructure this life towards an ultimate possibility. It is a very subtle and scientific process – and it can become an explosive experience.

A group of 84 classic yoga asanas taught by Lord Shiva is mentioned in several classic texts on yoga. Some of these asanas are considered highly important in the yogic canon: texts that do mention the 84 frequently single out the first four as necessary or vital to attain yogic perfection.The Hatha Yoga Pradipika specifies that of these 84, the first four are important, namely the siddhasana, padmasana, bhadrasana and simhasana

The Gheranda Samhita (late 17th century CE) asserts that Shiva taught 8,400,000 asanas, out of which 84 are preeminent, and "32 are useful in the world of mortals. These 32 are: siddhasana, padmasana, bhadrasana, muktasana, vajrasana, svastikasana, simhasana, gomukhasana, virasana, dhanurasana, mritasana, guptasana, matsyasana, matsyendrasana, gorakshana, paschimottanasana, utkatasana, sankatasana, mayurasana, kukkutasana, kurmasana, uttanakurmakasana, uttanamandukasana, vrikshasana, mandukasana, garudasana, vrishasana, shalabhasana, makarasana, ushtrasana, bhujangasana, and yogasana

The means of perfecting the posture is that of relaxing or loosening of effort, and allowing attention to merge with endlessness, or the infinite.(prayatna shaithilya ananta samapattibhyam)

From the attainment of that perfected posture, there arises an unassailable, unimpeded freedom from suffering due to the pairs of opposites (such as heat and cold, good and bad, or pain and pleasure).(tatah dvandva anabhighata)