Reaching Dhyana through Pratyahara and Dharana

Many people think that they are not meditating properly. They may spend all their time trying to find the perfect sitting posture or the perfect guided meditation to listen to. It is important to understand that meditation is not something we can simply do. Meditation is a state of being. In Sanskrit, this is referred to as Dhyana, the seventh limb of Raja Yoga. This can only be accomplished through priming the body and mind using the first few limbs of yoga – practicing the Yamas and niyamas, then asana and pranayama to purify the body. Through this, the body releases many mental and physical tensions. Beyond the former limbs, we can begin preparing for Dhyana (meditation) through yoga’s fifth and sixth limbs – Pratyahara and Dharana.

Pratyahara refers to the withdrawal of external consciousness. This is a dimension of yoga that focuses on the inner processes of an individual. It is arguably the most important limb of yoga because it is what allows for peace and stillness to begin to manifest in a yogi’s practice. The mind can begin to experience a level of stillness that provides enough space for it to begin to truly turn inward after priming the body by releasing mental and physical tensions. To withdraw external consciousness means to withdraw the body and mind from the external reality. Then, we can begin to experience a distinction between our internal world and the external world. Included within this external world is our physical form, the vessel of the human body. Withdrawing from external consciousness can be illustrated by slowing down our reactions and impulses to respond to external stimuli, first noticing our impulses to react and perhaps ultimately failing to even sense an impulse to react. External stimuli can range from loud noises, a pet licking your hand, an itch on your leg, or even acting on a thought that requires external work – like turning up the heat or turning on the kettle. Any of these things interact with your external consciousness. When we can bring ourselves inwards enough to no longer feel an imminent need to respond to external reality, it could be said that pratyahara has been achieved.

Dharana, yoga’s sixth limb, is Sanskrit for concentration. By using a concentration on one point of focus, whether this is the breath, counting, or a mantra, the mind that has already turned inward through Pratyahara can truly quiet and become focused. When it becomes focused, all external chatter is gradually silenced. When a continuous state of consciousness without interruption from sporadic thought occurs, a state of Dhyana (meditation) has been achieved. This state can become elusive to those “trying” to achieve it.

The path to reaching Dhyana is through the limbs of yoga. By first preparing the body, we can then move inward and challenge the mind. Beyond Dhyana is yoga’s eighth and final limb – Samadhi. This state of meditative consciousness often referred to as enlightenment, is attained through the regular and ongoing practice of Dhyana.

Upward Plank Pose

The Anatomy Of Arm Support Pose



The difficulty surrounding arm support poses is mostly due to the physical structure of the human hands. Contrary to feet, hands are made to seize and pick up things, instead of bearing weight. It is for that reason that newcomers are encouraged to become experienced at standing poses prior to initiating with arm support poses. When practicing yoga, keep in mind wearing appropriate clothes that will allow the free movement of your entire body. Yoga or compression pants, leggings, and workout pants are all fitting options.

Purvottanasana (poor-vo-tan-ahs-ahna) is frequently categorized as a primary back-bending arm support yoga position. It works the spine, legs, and arms while lengthening various muscles like the obliques, psoas minor and major, rectus femoris, ileus, and biceps.

A perfect upward plank pose should create a slight curve from the tip of the toes all the way to the crown of the head. To properly carry out this pose, one’s hips and chest have to be actively pushing upwards, one’s stomach must remain tucked in, while the fingers are kept widespread. The hands will receive the line of energy that is being dropped straight down from the shoulders. One’s head is comfortably tilted backward, and the soles of the feet continuously press down against the ground. For those who feel uncomfortable when tilting their heads down, simply keep your head and neck tilted upwards and gaze at your legs or feet.

Some tips to take into account are the following:


  • Keep your fingers pointing towards the feet
  • Keep your toes pointed and the two big toes touching one against the other
  • Roll your legs a little bit inwards before coming into the pose
  • Keep your abdominal muscle tucked in


It is important to keep these critical points in mind when going into an upward plank pose, as they make up the basis of this position and will help avoid any unwanted injuries.

In order to gain the strength needed to carry out this pose, you can practice positions such as the regular plank pose or Kumbhakasana, four-limbed stick pose or Chaturanga Dandasana and dolphin plank pose or Makara Adho Mukha Svasana. These poses will work on strengthening your arms, wrists, core, and spine, plus stretching your shoulders and legs.

Once you have prepared your body and gained more strength you can go ahead into a full upward plank pose after doing preceding poses like cow face pose or Gomukhasana, reclining hero pose or Supta Virasana, and bow pose or Dhanurasana. Succeeding poses can either include seated forward bend or Paschimottanasana or downward-facing dog position or Adho Mukha Svanasana.

Most benefits surrounding this yoga pose are related to the rebalancing of the fourth, Anahata chakra. It is the energy center that unites the physical with the spiritual chakras and is related to the moralities of compassion, forgiveness, and acceptance. Amongst its benefits, one can find that this position aids with relaxing the mind and to slowly wash away negative feelings like grief, anger, jealousy, and fear.

Connecting With Positivity

Connecting with Positivity

You’ve probably heard the mantras. All we need to do is think positive, and we will live happy lives. If you envision your goals and dreams with positive intent, they will somehow materialize, right? Maybe. If you feel positive, thinking positive will probably benefit you. If you envision your goals positively, work hard to achieve them, and see each failure as a learning process, then, sure, positivity will help you.

But what if you don’t feel positive? What if you’re trying over and over to be positive, but the truth is, you feel fundamentally negative?

You might think there’s something wrong with you. Positivity is working for everyone around you, but you can’t quite grasp it. The truth is, positivity is only half the story. As human beings, we are blessed by living fully; emotional lives made up of both happiness and sadness, dark and light. Constantly trying to force yourself into the light makes the dark a scary place. By embracing both the negative and the positive, the dark becomes less scary, and we become able to express ourselves in new ways completely.

Once we are fully aware of our feelings and recognize where the real positivity in our lives comes from, we can begin to train our heart, mind and will, in being kind and compassionate. To do this, we need to create an ethical environment in which we can thrive. It includes the food we eat, who we choose to spend our time with and even the job we have. Building a supportive environment around us means we can adequately address our negative feelings safely and become capable of cultivating a genuine, positive emotion.

We all know that relaxing, eating the right foods, throwing on some workout clothes and increasing your endorphins are great for shaking off negativity at the moment. Here are some other ways you can cultivate positivity:

  • Read/Listen

Take some time to read (or listen to) books that encourage, inspire and motivate you. Nourish your mind and soul with inspirational and positive materials.

  • Focus

Focusing on the positive is a practice. Simply start by concentrating on solutions rather than problems. Eventually, you will be able to count your blessings in life rather than dwell on hardships.

  • Release

Let go of negative thought patterns and beliefs about yourself and the world around you. Safely releasing these means, you have a mental space to grow new ideas and more productive behaviors.

  • Find Your Passion

When we are genuinely passionate about something, we usually only think positively about it. Passion gives us an unlimited access to inspiration and motivation, which in turn helps us to achieve positive outcomes. Finding our passions and using them to drive us will improve all areas of our lives, including our work and our relationships.

The journey to increasing positivity, compassion and kindness is not always an easy one. Actively seek out what makes you happy and use it for inspiration. Go after your goals and dreams. Live to the fullest by acknowledging both the dark and the light in everything and using them to make decisions about the direction of your life consciously. No one but you are responsible for these outcomes. No one but you can redirect your focus to reflect your inner light.

4 Tips to Keep a Routine Yoga Practice

Do you ever find yourself struggling to unroll your yoga mat on a daily basis? Perhaps you started off the new year with the best intentions to make a renewed commitment to your yoga practice. You purchased brand new yoga pants or leggings that were meant to inspire you. Your mat was freshly cleaned, and you stocked up on all of your yoga essentials. Unfortunately, your good intentions and well-meaning gestures haven’t been enough to keep your practice regular.

If you’re struggling to make your yoga practice into a routine, we thought we might offer you a few suggestions. These tips will keep you focused on your goals for the year and bring you to your yoga mat far more frequently.

Schedule a Specific Time in Your Day for Yoga

A routine yoga practice doesn’t simply happen without a commitment from you. You will need to schedule or arrange a specific part of your day to dedicate to the practice. Whether this means setting aside an hour each day after work or waking up 30 minutes earlier, planning to practice gives you a greater chance of overall success.

Create a Yoga Space in Your Home

Attempting to keep a regular home practice is a noble pursuit. After all, yoga should be accessible anywhere instead of just in the yoga studio. Rearrange your home to create a haven for yourself that is always ready for you to unroll your yoga mat. Better yet, you could leave your yoga mat unrolled all the time. If you don’t have to rearrange your furniture and spend precious minutes preparing the space, you are more likely to actually get into your yoga routine.

Keep Lots of Practice Options Handy

Sometimes, your mind simply can’t come up with a unique yoga sequence for what your body needs that day. Be certain to compile a list of resources that could come in handy during your practice time when you draw a blank. These could be printouts of different sequences, a YouTube playlist, or a collection of DVDs. The more resources you have available to you, the more likely you are to commit to one of them each day.

Make Your Yoga Practice a Special Time

Don’t look at a routine yoga practice as a chore each day. Instead, you can add a few items that inspire you and spark joy within your spirit. Light a candle, burn some incense or pause for a few minutes of meditation. Your yoga practice doesn’t have to be a heart-pumping, hour-long marathon session. It can be gentle and quiet if that’s what your body needs.

Making space for yourself to have a routine yoga practice can help you to move deeper into your practice. Prioritize this extremely important form of self-care so you can be better prepared to embrace your yoga practice on a daily basis. While you may not always feel like stepping onto the yoga mat, most yogis don’t regret a single moment spent there.

Yoga for Depression – Does It Work?

Consult with your doctor before stopping any medication that you are currently on. Some medications are necessary for your well-being. This article is not a substitute for medical advice.

Yoga’s Role in Helping with Depression and Anxiety

Yoga is the answer to perfecting the body, easing the mind, and cultivating the wisdom of the spirit. A traditional yoga practice utilizes meditation and breathing exercises known as Pranayama and Asanas. These are the physical postures, which I am sure, you must have seen hundreds of times on a yoga DVD or online yoga video. Yoga promotes abstention from harmful behaviors, such as smoking and overindulgence in alcohol, and encourages healthy dietary changes and promotes mental clarity through meditation and relaxation. There are a lot of health benefits of yoga, physical as well as spiritual. Here we shall discuss the effects of yoga on human mind.

Many studies have shown that exercise can help with anxiety and depression. It was never completely certain; however, which types of exercise gave the most benefit. Yoga was taken into consideration, along with other types of exercise, for a study that was conducted at the Boston University School of Medicine. It compared walking vs. yoga’s effects on anxiety and depression to assess health benefits of yoga. The results showed that the practice of yoga improved emotions and moods more effectively than just walking, by enhancing the production of GABA, a neurotransmitter in the brain. GABA, known as gamma amino butyric acid, reduces anxiety and enhances relaxation. It is the main inhibitory or calming neurotransmitter in the nervous system.

The study was based on 19 people practicing yoga for 60 minutes, three times weekly, for 12 weeks. Similarly, 15 participants did a walking program for the same period of time. The moods of the participants and levels of GABA in the brain were assessed at the beginning and end of the trial period. At the end of 12 weeks the findings were not just interesting, but quite amazing, confirming the health benefits. The people who had engaged in yoga had a much greater improvement in their moods and less anxiety than the walking group. They also had higher levels of GABA in the brain as measured on an MRI scan.

In another study from Boston University in 2007, it showed that a one-hour yoga session resulted in elevated GABA levels in the brain and that GABA levels increased by 27% in the yoga group compared with absolutely no change in the other group. This was the first study of its kind to show that a modality such as yoga contributed to elevated GABA levels in the brain.

Prescription Medications for Depression

Many prescription medications work by increasing GABA levels in the brain and they contain Benzodiazepines. Valium, Ativan, Restoril and Ambien are just a few of the many in this category of drugs. They reduce anxiety and induce sleep. But the problem is that these drugs are habit-forming. Once taken on a regular basis they are difficult to stop, not to mention the other side-effects that these drugs may cause.

By practicing yoga, you will diminish anxiety and reduce the need for prescription and over-the-counter habit-forming drugs. Your body will get many health benefits of yoga that will be felt in countless ways, including flexibility, balance, muscle strengthening, better concentration and a natural relaxation response. Once a regular yoga practice is formulated, it can benefit numerous medical conditions that may eventually no longer require medication.

Yoga has been proven to help with not only strengthening the body and increasing flexibility, but also in lowering high blood pressure, reversing heart disease, alleviating asthma, reducing the pain of arthritis, chronic back pain and Fibromyalgia, just to name a few.

What You Need to Know Before Trying Hot Yoga


Everybody seems to have an opinion about hot yoga. Some people absolutely love it and they think that everyone else should love it too; on the other hand, there are people who despise it and stay as far away from it as possible. Since you’re reading this article, I imagine you haven’t quite created an opinion on the matter yet.

Here are a couple things you may want to consider about hot yoga before you take the plunge!



Hot Yoga is Hot

That might sound obvious, but it really is toasty in there. A lot of people go into a hot yoga class and after about 10 minutes are surprised by how hot it really is. Heat isn’t a bad thing, but it is a really good thing to know before you walk into the room.



You are Going to Sweat

Make sure you bring a couple of towels and are wearing clothes that you can really sweat in. Don’t be surprised if you have beads of sweat rolling off of you even if you aren’t someone who usually sweats very much. It’s also a good idea to bring a change of clothes for afterwards so you don’t get cold as the sweat cools down.


Sweat is Good

You’ve probably heard about the amazing benefits of sweating in relation to detoxifying. Your skin is your largest organ and working up a sweat like that can have very purifying affects on your overall health.



You’ll Be Extra Bendy

Your muscle will be extra warm and will have a little extra give to them, which will make you more flexible than usual. This is great for getting deeper stretches and can really help you with poses that you might be struggling with in your other classes. Make sure you don’t get too carried away and give your body some time to calm back down afterwards to avoid any over-stretching.


Your Regular Yoga Outfit Will Be Too Hot

It really does matter what you wear to a hot yoga class because the heat will get to you fast. It is not uncommon to feel dizzy or slightly nauseous during a hot yoga class based entirely on the temperature in the room. It’s so important to dress in a way that will not make you warmer than you need to be and also that will not distract you. Clothes that you need to pull or tug on will be very frustrating. Take the time to find an outfit or two that are well fitted, thin and (if you’re comfortable with it) on the smaller side. Something like these yoga capri leggings would be perfect.


Keep an Open Mind

It might be very tempting to dismiss your hot yoga experience as stressful or exhausting but if you keep an open mind you might actually really enjoy it. You might feel drained by the elevated temperature or you might really thrive in it! You will not know until you try it and give it your best shot.



Hopefully these six little pointers here will help you prep for your first hot yoga experience!


Ashtanga Yoga – Things To Consider

If you are an advanced Yoga practitioner and feel the need to express yourself physically on a different level, but haven’t quite found your yoga style yet, then we recommend you try out Astanga Yoga.

Ashtanga is not merely a yoga style but rather a philosophy of life with the idea to synchronize a healthy mind and body using a person’s potential.

Origin of the Ashtanga Yoga

While there is no clear record of when the style was first “created” it was popularized by Sri K. in the beginning of the 20th Century in India. It is mentioned some ancient writing by Vamana Rishi, named Yoga Korunta.

Practice of the Ashtanga Yoga

The main goal of this particular style is to push the practitioner to reach his or hers fullest potential on different levels. This starts with the consciousness and goes through the physical, spiritual and psychological. Correct breathing patterns, postures, and gazing points lead to control of the body and its senses on a deep level within a person’s self. Through regular practice and devotion, a person receives strength and balance within the mind and body.

There are three sequences of movements in the Ashtanga system and each of them serves a different purpose. The main one is called Yoga Chikitsa, and its goal is to detoxify and align a person’s body. The second one called Nadi Shodhana which helps to purify the nervous system through opening different energy channels and clearing them. The third one is named Sthira Bhaga which takes the previous two and synchronizes them into strength. However, it requires advanced levels of flexibility.

Before moving to the next patterns of movements, one must properly develop the previous as each posture helps the person prepare for the next and helps to develop both mind balance and physical strength.

Meaning of the Ashtanga Yoga

The literal translation to Ashtanga is “eight limbs”. Explained by Patanjali as this; Dhyana (meditation), Pranayama (breath control), Pratyahara (sense withdrawal), Samadhi (contemplation), Dharana (concentration), Yama (abstinences), Asana (postures), and Niyama (observances). All of those branches help each other for an individual to reach a proper balance. Postures are supported and established by the breath control, and both of them are the core of the abstinences and observances. Once a person reaches firm control of the first four, the second spiritual four naturally achieve the higher level over time.

Core of the Ashtanga Yoga

“Everything Is God”, but “Breath Is Life”. Breath and practice are the two most important factors to revealing your full potential through this style of yoga. Breathing methods cannot be emphasized enough as they humble the person and grant the body with precise, gentle and steady movements.

Practice helps you develop strength and stamina, but also discipline. One cannot expect results if no effort is put in; it’s the same goes with yoga. We recommend a self-practice class for this style.