Retreats and reflecting on practice and non-attachment


Going on a retreat can help you contemplate stuff and reflect on things, partly because you have physically retreated from your usual schedule, activities, connections (if you turn devices off!), and other distractions for the mind. A yoga retreat can also introduce us to new things to practise*, we may have the opportunity to practise … Continue reading Retreats and reflecting on practice and non-attachment

Samadhi – an end or the beginning?

In the monthly journey through Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, we have now arrived at the final limb/stage: samadhi. The previous two limbs (dhyana and dharana), have taken us on the journey of focusing the mind and meditating, and now the mind is suitably prepared for samadhi, which is interpreted as full absorption of the self. The … Continue reading Samadhi – an end or the beginning?

A one-track mind, or, dhyana

Meditation. Lots of people have heard of it, many may think they "can't do it", others may not know what its benefits are, and quite a few probably think it sounds all bit strange and isn't for them. We have reached the seventh limb of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, and after practising how to concentrate (see … Continue reading A one-track mind, or, dhyana

Dharana: training the brain to concentrate

In my monthly look at  Patanjali's eight limbs of yoga, we're drawing towards the last few now. The three remaining are internally-focused and build towards what can be seen as the ultimate goal of yoga. These three are: dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (absorption, union). This month I will concentrate (pun intended) on dharana. Dharana (pronunciation guide) … Continue reading Dharana: training the brain to concentrate

Pratyahara – the forgotten element of yoga?

Pratyahara is the fifth limb in Patanjali's ashtanga system. It can be loosely translated* as 'withdrawal of the senses' or more fully as 'pratyahara is withdrawing the senses, mind and consciousness from contact with external objects, and then drawing them inwards towards the seer [self]' (Sutra 2:54; Iyengar, 2002 p.168). In some ways it can … Continue reading Pratyahara – the forgotten element of yoga?

It’s all about the breath

Continuing the monthly look at the eight limbs of yoga as outlined in Patanjali's yoga sutras, we come to the fourth limb: pranayama, or to over-simplify, breathing. One person asked me why people have to be taught how to breathe. That's not necessarily what pranayama is. Pranayama is composed of two words: prana (breath, life … Continue reading It’s all about the breath

Asana – are you sitting comfortably?

Women in seated yoga pose - ardha matsyendrasana

This month's 'limb' of the eight stages of yoga, as described by Patanjali, moves us onto the third level, and probably the one familiar to everyone - asana, or what we know as yoga postures. When you say 'yoga' to someone they'll probably picture someone putting their body into a funny position. Asana comes from the root … Continue reading Asana – are you sitting comfortably?

What are the niyama and how do they relate to life today?

This month we turn to the second limb of yoga as outlined by Patanjali. (The first limb, yama, I covered in March.) The second limb is niyama, and as you can probably tell from the word, is closely liked to the yama. However, whereas yama have a slightly more external or social aspect to them … Continue reading What are the niyama and how do they relate to life today?