As interpreted by Lucienne Vidah
“Concentration is the fixing of the mind in one place.”
(Desa bandha cittasya dharana)
Fixing your thoughts in one place can present steadiness throughout occasions of turmoil and deep unhappiness. This sort of focus, referred to as dharana, is the sixth limb of yoga. It’s akin to focusing a digital camera lens on one thing particular: At first, the thing in entrance of the lens seems blurry, however steadily it’s introduced into focus till it’s sharp. In the follow of asana, you possibly can focus your lens on a selected place or space (desa) of your physique, akin to your eyes, navel, or coronary heart. This self-discipline helps middle your thoughts, permitting it to settle into stillness and discover readability—even on notably tough days.
Recently I used to be confronted with the passing of an expensive colleague and pal. She was a sort, lovely, and devoted Iyengar Yoga instructor who, a few yr earlier, had discovered she had an aggressive sort of most cancers. In the months after her analysis, she taught yoga courses intermittently between her chemotherapy remedies. We talked commonly after class in the academics’ dressing room, and she or he was fairly open concerning the chemo progress and setbacks.
Despite all she was going by way of, she remained upbeat. I observed that she was taking extra time to speak to her college students after class, which I actually admired. She wore trendy head scarves, and when her hair began to develop again, I marveled at her new, hip, cropped coiffure. She was 54 years previous, but appeared 20 years youthful—which made her demise much more troublesome to fathom.
Yoga for Times of Crisis
Right after listening to the information of her passing, I used to be scheduled to show a category that was partially crammed together with her college students. I used to be not prepared to point out up as their instructor. My thoughts was deeply pulled into unhappiness, and my physique was a meek follower. After a troublesome begin, with a damaged voice, I started to show the scholars’ consideration to a desa: their eyes.
This selection was not random. The late yoga grasp B.K.S. Iyengar wrote a prescription for yoga in occasions of crises. It’s a sequence of propped supine poses and inversions, in which college students hold their eyes open always—wanting forward or up on the ceiling.
I’d beforehand practiced this sequence a couple of occasions, and it had been a strong expertise. At first, I had some discomfort from the trouble it took to maintain my eyes open and targeted on the ceiling or wall, however steadily this effort melted away. My eyeballs appeared to descend into their sockets. They turned deep wells of quiet notion that had little to do with the act of seeing anymore. They have been utterly absorbed in the asana and in my breath.
Teaching this sequence jogged my memory of this profound expertise. In the start of the follow, throughout Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose) and Supta Virasana (Reclining Hero Pose), it’s very onerous to not shut your eyes. So the artwork of enjoyable your eye muscle mass, eyelids, eyebrows, and brow turns into essential. Later, in supported inversions like Viparita Karani (Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose), it’s extra about observing this restful eye state and the non-urgency to blink. In (Corpse Pose) with eyes open, it’s as if the bodily sense of the eyes has disappeared, and you may really feel the mind itself resting.
In hindsight, the which means of sutra three.1 revealed itself throughout that 90-minute class. My college students’ minds have been eye-bound, and the outcome was a deep focus. Everyone, together with myself, turned a quiet witness to the second; it felt like we have been in the core of honesty. Sadness got here and went like waves—whereas area was created to watch this.
When the category ended, some college students exchanged hugs, after which everybody left the room quietly. The follow had anchored us and united our hearts. Sadness is common. When we take time to tune in and focus throughout tough occasions, the emotional burden disperses.
See additionally Amy Ippoliti Decodes Yoga Sutra 1.3: Dwell in Your Own Nature