Contemplation on Dhāranā


Dhāranā. The sixth of the eighth limbs of Yoga. Also meaning concentration.

Book I. 35 of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras (Sri Swami Satchidananda’s version): 

Visayavatī vā pravrttirutpannā manasah sthitinibandhanī

“Or the concentration on subtle sense perceptions can cause steadiness of mind.”

Today I contemplated this verse and immediately this memory of experiencing the drum playing at the Drum Tower in Beijing came to my mind. Focus, rhythm, steadiness all present here. The sound of the drums was so loud that I could feel it in my bones. I have this same sense experience chanting OM before or after a yoga class, or when I chant mantras alone or at a kirtan. For me, chanting does bring about a steadiness and peacefulness to my mind and body. The vibrations felt on my lips and the sound that travels to my brain and heart.

The Drum performance:

Sri Swami Satchidananda goes on to write that such concentration experiences demonstrate a “progression in one-pointedness”. He suggests “concentrating on the tip of the nose”, but you could also practice the next time you chant Om after yoga class.

These are all simply moments of this path of yoga…






A New Now

Recently, I was feeling quite critical of myself for various reasons. As I sat with my feelings of frustration, sadness, anger, etc. I realized that I was striving to find forgiveness. Forgiveness of myself and of others. At the time, I couldn’t see a way to find this forgiveness.

Since then, and through my yoga studies, I have been exploring what it means to “be present”. Guess what? Every breath we take is a chance for a “new now”. A new present moment. A new beginning. Acceptance of what is happening NOW. NOW and NOW. What happened two weeks ago is not the present. It is not now. Forgiveness can happen in a breath. Its that easy. It might take many breaths for some grievances, but every moment is a new chance.

Today I took a “listening walk” with my dog. I was present with her for the entire walk. I listened to the sound of her nails on the road. Sometimes fast, when the walk just started, sometimes slow, when we were walking uphill. I listened to the sound of my breath. Sometimes jagged,sometimes calm,and sometimes even. Birds chirping, airplanes overhead, cars, etc. I was present for it all. I love taking these walks with my girls. There are different sounds; sometimes bike wheels whirring, laughter, shouts.

I challenge you to try it too. Be in the NOW. Listen to your breath. If it doesn’t work, its okay, on your next inhale, try again.


Balancing bird
Balancing bird


I have a goal to go to yoga teacher training. This has been a goal for several years now. In fact, if I wasn’t in China, I would be taking that training this year. Instead, I am taking time to cultivate my personal practice. I need to make it my own…everyday.  I have struggled with how “to do” this. Some days I’m drawn to the mat like a magnet, others I avoid it. Somewhere inside me I felt there was “a right way” that my practice needed to be. But really, there is no right way. Yoga is different for everyone. That is the perfect part about having a personal practice. When you teach, you don’t have class for yourself. You create a class that will give a little something to everyone. You adjust to the needs and the climate of the students in the room.
I am making “my” way on the mat, trying to get there everyday, even if it is for a short time. I like this curvy path I am taking to find my “true yoga self”. My practice is growing a little bit each day and each week. I went to a day long workshop recently by Donna Farhi. She is an American now living in New Zealand. I learned about 1 muscle. The psoas. This muscle is really deep in the abdomen, and most people don’t even know where it is, and therefore its incredibly tight. If you find it, and develop it, you will have a really strong core strength. I found it really interesting, because Cyndi, my yoga teacher in Raleigh (at Moving Mantra yoga) was always talking about the psoas and about protecting your back. Now I have the background information on all that Cyndi was trying to instill in my practice.
I am really happy with my yogic transformation over the years…from early days of practicing at the YMCA in North Dakota and North Carolina, to visits to Kripalu for R & R, to an Anusara class in California on my honeymoon, to NYC to practice with famous yogis. I love practicing with my children. They make it fresh and fun. Hollis likes to fly like an airplane on my feet! For the last two weeks, I have been experimenting with music. I don’t really have a set playlist right now, I just turn on iTunes and let the music inspire me.