Dharana is one-pointed focus or concentration and is used to help train the mind for deeper states of meditation. The object of focus is not as important as the focus itself. You could focus on a burning candle flame, on a yantra or sacred geometric image (shown here), on your breath, on repeating a mantra. Anything that provides a focal point for the mind to become absorbed in for a period of time.
Fold middle, ring and pinkie fingers into palms. Bring the hands together with the heels of hands touching, the index finger tips touching and the thumbs pressed along side each other against the index fingers. This gesture mimics the sacred vessel that oil or ghee would be poured from for the purposes of anointing something.
Begin lying on the back with the legs straight and arms extended over the head, take an inhale to prepare.
Exhale and draw the right knee into the chest, holding it with the right hand.
Inhale draw the right knee out to the right side with the right hand, left hand in cactus on the floor.
Exhale and cross the right knee over to the left side of the body with the left hand, right hand in cactus on the floor.
Inhale back to the center and extend the right leg up toward the ceiling, holding behind thigh with the clasped hands.
Exhale draw the right knee to the chest.
Inhale extend the leg to the floor and the arms overhead.
Exhale and repeat the entire sequence with left leg.
Lie on back with folded blanket under sacrum. Draw legs into happy baby pose either holding hands behind knees or reaching the arms inside the legs to hold the outside of the feet. Inhale and straighten the right leg. Exhale and come back into happy baby pose. Inhale and straighten the left leg. Exhale and come back into happy baby pose. Repeat for about a minute then release by bringing knees into the chest.
Inverted Straddle with Strap
Lie on back with folded blanket under sacrum. Bring strap over arches of both feet and hold one side of strap in each hand. Inhale and straddle legs apart allowing strap to slide across arches of feet. Exhale pull down on ends of strap and close the legs. Repeat 5-10 times then release by bringing knees into the chest.
Cow: Begin on the hands and knees, toes pointed. Inhale lift the sternum forward and drop the pubic bone back between the legs to arch the spine.
Cat: Exhale round the back and drop the head and tail bone towards the floor.
Repeat with your breath 10 times.
Talasana (Palm Tree Pose)
Stand in Tadasana with the arms at the sides. Inhale lift up onto balls of the feet as you raise arms forward and either place hands on hips or raise them overhead.
Exhale release weight back into heels as you release the arms to sides.
Repeat 3-5 times with the breath.
Vrksasana (Tree Pose)
Stand with feet hips-width apart. Engage legs and bear weight on left leg only. Draw right foot onto calf or inner thigh (do not press on side of knee). Press foot against leg and leg against foot. Draw belly in and release tail bone towards floor. Inhale and draw arms overhead without gripping shoulders.
Hold as long as you can balance with comfort, release and change sides.
Utthita Padangusthasana (Extended Big Toe Pose)
Variation I: Begin in Tadasana. Lift right foot and either hold foot with right hand or use strap. Keep right hip level with left hip and ground left standing leg as you extend the right leg forward. Extend left arm over head. Engage belly and lengthen tail. For a fully supported version, prop foot on a chair.
Variation II: Begin in Tadasana. Lift right foot and either hold foot with right hand or use strap. Keep right hip level with left hip and ground left standing leg as you extend the right leg out to the right side. Extend left arm over head. Engage belly and lengthen tail. For a fully supported version, prop foot on a chair.
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)
Begin on all fours with hands slightly forward of shoulders. Turn toes under and lift knees off floor. Keep shoulders wide and palms flat, press thighs and sit bones back, scooping belly in.
Hold 1-3 minutes, release into Child's Pose.
Lie on back with legs in the seat of a chair. Lift pelvis off floor and place block or a folded blanket under pelvis. Place arms away from sides and palms up. Rest 15 minutes.
I attend Cheryl's class regularly and feel that my practice has improved immensely over the past few years due to her expert coaching. Her teaching style is clear and compassionate and her previous experience in teaching adults is evident in her organized approach and easy to understand instructions. I also appreciate that Cheryl not only teaches us about how to correctly position ourselves, but also touches on many aspects of yoga philosophy, which in turn has deepened my personal practice and heightened my awareness of the connection between mind and body, breath and relaxation.