YOGA POSE + FOCUS: 09.12 – 09.18

“Always remember, your focus determines your reality.” -George Lucas

Weekly Focus: Dharana // Focused Concentration (fixed attention)

Dharana means concentration and is the sixth limb on the 8-limb path. Single, pointed focus of the mind aids in deep meditation. We tend to think of meditation as “zoning out” or “an absence” of thought — meditation is not necessarily so. We clear space in the mind so that we can be more present and aware, finding space to be very focused. This is often how we can come to great revelations, spur creative thought or find a sense of calm.

Once the mind has learned focus during meditation, we can take this type of concentration into our daily lives.

When we are able to do a task and focus all of our energy on it, we’re able to perform it well and with care. The constant buzz and stream of media today trains the mind to only focus for short stints of time, and to be constantly multitasking. It’s important to practice dharana to live in a mindful way.

Align/Flow Classes: Utthita Hasta Padanghustasana // Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Balance

This week’s pose requires great focus and attention to your space as we balance and expand congruently. Balancing one on leg, we extend the opposite leg out away from the body, while lifting it with the corresponding hand. It is important to keep in mind that the faster you move into this posture, the more unsteady you will become. Take your time.

First, find your drishti (focused gaze) on a point directly in front of you. This is a tool of dharana and will aid in acquiring a fixed concentration and balance. From here, you will slowly move into your version of Utthita Hasta Padanghustasana. The point this week is to work on the concentration, not necessarily the biggest version of the pose.

Alternatives and modifications may include:

  • Pillar Pose with external rotation (one knee lifted, open to the side)
  • Tree Pose
  • Using a strap around the lifted leg to extend the arm
  • Keeping a gentle bend in the knee of your lifted leg
  • Supporting your balance with a wall or a chair

Stretch/Restore Classes: Drishti Meditation // Fixed Gaze Meditation

During classes this week, you may have the opportunity to work on your drishti in a more passive form as well. Anytime you find yourself in a seated posture, during meditation or even pranayama (breath work) you have the opportunity to fixate your gaze to a point of focus. A spot on the floor, the wall — find something non-moving and let it take all of your attention.

Here are some ways to practice your drishti at home:

  • Candle Meditation (light a candle and fixate your gaze on the flame as you meditate)
  • Find a spot at the park or in your garden, fixate your gaze on something you find beautiful.
  • Sit in a comfortable seat with your hands in prayer. Fixate your gaze to the tips of your fingers.
  • Find your favorite piece of art and hone in on a color or section that draws your attention.