Yoga – Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi

Yoga – Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi

Yoga - Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi

Up to now, we have studied the first five “Angas,” or limbs of yoga. These five limbs were Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama and Pratyahara. These were, in a way, preparatory steps to the controlling of the mind. Each of the limbs helps to build on the next level on the path to the mastery of yoga.

The last three of the eight limbs of yoga are Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi. Together, these three are also referred to as Samyama, which means bringing or holding together in Sanskrit, combining the simultaneous practice of Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi.

Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi are evolutionary stages of meditation. As one becomes better at focusing the mind, we can say that one progresses from practicing Dharana to Dhyana to Samadhi.

A beginner starts with focusing the mind for short durations. They can also visualize an object, form, or diety to concentrate. This stage of meditation is called Dharana. Even after practicing the first five limbs of yoga that we listed above, focusing the mind during meditation is very challenging. If one ignores any of the first five limbs, Dharana becomes almost impossible.

As one practices Dharana for days, months, or years, one becomes better at holding the focus of the mind without using any visualization or aid. And, if a yogi can stay focused without any distractions in mind for several minutes to hours, their Dharana would now be called Dhyana.

Samadhi is the final stage of Samyama. In a state of Samadhi, a yogi is under a trance, with a focused mind that they can hold for days or even months. A yogi is one with the Supreme Reality in the state of Samadhi.

Attaining Samadhi is not an easily achievable target. Yogis spend several lifetimes before they can reach that level of excellence. If you see a yogi in Samadhi in this life, you can be sure that they have put in immense hard work practicing yoga in their past lives.