Monday, January 28, 2013

the art of attention

After reading the deliciousness of Julie's post I found myself wishing I'd been in her class yesterday. Heavenly. Enjoy Friends.

I taught my All Levels Sunday class on Dharana recently and as soon as I “namasted” my students and lifted my head to their faces, I felt a really profound energy exuding from the room.  It’s these moments as a yoga instructor that remind us why we do what we do.  
I explained at the beginning of class that Dharana is complete concentration; a total focus of attention.  My favorite translation of the word simply says “the unbending concentration of the mind.”  Most of us are used to flowing through the yoga poses- sometimes leading to a loss of concentration because we get so caught up in the flow. (And don’t get me wrong, I love getting lost in the flow!!)  

Sometimes, we need to stop, hold the pose, and be aware of where our focus is directed.  So in this particular class, I had my students hold their poses a little longer than usual.  I noticed shoulders dropping during Crescent pose, arms dropping during Warrior II, and gazes turning to the earth during Extended Side Angle.  

I was so pleased to see these small movements because I knew my students were paying attention to what their bodies needed at that moment.  It was not about doing the perfect pose, it was about doing each pose with a deep sense of focus.  And when we are really present, we take care of ourselves by giving our arms a rest or gazing downwards to ease our necks.  As we all learn to concentrate and be in the moment, we learn to take care of ourselves better.
Like all aspects of yoga, this concept can be related to our daily lives.  The art of Dharana allows me to let go of all the things that tend to receive my focus but really do not deserve it.  I’m reminded as I think of this “unbending” concentration that when I’m living my best life and my spirit is experiencing joy, I’m focused.  I’m focused on the things that really matter- taking in deep breaths, eating sustainable food, caring for my relationships, caring for myself, caring for my students, and so on.
It is so easy for modern humans to get wrapped up in a million different things at once.  There’s just so much to see and do in our world.  We love to multitask, we love to write or type out a long list of to do’s and mark them off when they are done, and we love to keep life busy so we don’t get bored.  I’m guilty of all of these things!  

What I am learning through my personal study of Dharana is that I’m much lighter, much more at ease when my focus is singular.  I’m able to give 100%.  I’m less distracted, in turn making me more productive in all parts of my life.  
I encourage each of you to take the time today to just notice where your focus is being directed.  Is it on a thousand different things?  Are you moving fast between tasks, conversations, stop signs?  Stop a moment and give full and utter attention to your breath.  It is the best place to begin.

1 comment:

skw said...

lovely! it's such a treat to have a teacher with unbending concentration on her students too :) lucky lexington!