DhyanaFinally, we are finishing with the 8 limbs of yoga.  Just as a reminder, here are the first 6 limbs of yoga. 

  1. Yama – Social Ethics
  2. Niyama – Personal Ethics
  3. Asana – Yoga postures
  4. Pranayama – Breath control
  5. Pratyahara – Withdrawing the senses
  6. Dharana – Concentration

If you missed any of the previous blog posts describing these limbs, no worries,  click on the links above.

We now come to limb number 7, Dhyana – meditation.  Up till now, everything we have done is to prepare ourselves for the practice of meditation.  In the living of our lives, we use the Yamas and Niyamas daily.  Then we come to yoga practice, and we perform Asana and Pranayama to get our physical body prepared for Pratyahara.  As we get more proficient in Pratyahara, it becomes Dharana.  As we practice Dharana, we then naturally move into Dhyana.

Dharana and Dhyana do blend, and it can be hard to tell them apart.  Here’s a description to help tell them apart – Dharana, involves fragmented moments of concentration, while Dhyana is a continuous flow.  When we are in class and practicing postures, you may feel your self become so engrossed with what your body is doing that you lose track of time or even what’s going on around you.  You have experienced Dhyana. 

The final limb of yoga is Samadhi.  Samadhi is the highest state of consciousness one can achieve through meditation.  It is spiritual enlightenment where the self, the mind, and the object of meditation merge together into one.  I know this sounds a bit out there, but if we take everything step by step, it will come.  I’m sure we’ve all experienced a bit of Samadhi in our lives.  Have you ever become so focused on what you are doing that everything else fades away?  Then you have touched on Samadhi.  Yoga means union, this is the union that it refers to.  You basically become one with whatever has your attention.