March 2016 – Sutra III-1
Fixing the consciousness on one point or region is concentration (dharana).
Patanjali begins the third book of the Yoga Sutras with the sixth of the eight limbs — dharana or “concentration.” With this limb he continues the journey begun in the previous five limbs: moving progressively from the outward to the inward, or from community and personal rules, to the body, breath control, and sense withdrawal. This journey through the first five limbs of yoga is both sequential and holistic.
The power of concentration is the skill to become completely absorbed and focused on one object or task. It is a necessary skill to cultivate if we are to become less subjected to the pushes and pulls of the world around us.
As Guruji wrote in his commentary on this sutra:
If one performs each asana zealously, fusing with integrated attention the parts of the body, the wandering mind and the discriminative intelligence with the soul, is this not a spiritual practice?
Regardless of one’s personal beliefs about what “spiritual” means, we are all seekers. An experience of “yoking” together, finding momentary or more lasting forms of union, can only aid us on our path. While we do not begin with concentration, it is certainly an essential part of the yoga journey.