Practicing yoga is a practice of focus. Attending to your breath on the yoga mat brings you to the present moment. Thoughts about laundry piling up and birthday parties to plan disappear. Relaxation of body and calmness of mind follow in the wake of mindful breathing. The yoga practice teaches you how to breathe mindfully on the yoga mat. The fruit of the practice is taking that mindfulness of breathing off the mat and into all of our activities. At first, mindful breathing off the mat is a conscious practice, just as it is on the yoga mat. With continual and consistent practice, it becomes habitual and unconscious, just as it does on the yoga mat. Relaxation and calm seep into more and more of all of your daily activities as the habit becomes ingrained. With a firmly established habit of mindful breathing, the relaxation and calmness which often accompanies a yoga practice can also serve as the foundation for a calm and relaxed life. It all starts with focus, bringing the mind to the breath. Focusing the mind, or one-pointed concentration, in yoga is called “dharana”, and is one of the eight limbs of classical yoga. In asana practice, it is also practiced with the gaze. A steady gaze in yoga is called “drishti”. Dharana can also be practiced with the breath as the object of attention, or with a tight hamstring, or with a concept — like gratitude or generosity. There is a long tradition of practicing dharana by using a candle as the object of concentration. We do this at the Dhira Yoga Center the last Friday of every month with “Candlelight Flow”, a yoga asana practice followed by a 15 minute one-pointed concentration on a candle. It’s a key part of the practice of classical yoga. With practice, it can serve as the foundation of a steady and happy life, even when doing the laundry and planning birthday parties! Come join us tomorrow night for Candlelight Flow at 6pm.