In our fifth step, we withdrew the senses, and now we are able to focus inward fully. This concentration sets up for our seventh step Dhyana, which is meditation.
Although all the steps overlap and integrate, these three are so closely interlinked sometimes is it hard to understand that they are different. In our fifth step we let go of the outer sensory world, in this sixth step we focus on our internal world, and in the seventh step we move into meditation where we are at peace inwardly and outwardly.
For me the easiest way to focus or concentrate inwardly is to bring my awareness to my breathing, to pranayama. I have come to a place in my yoga practice where I actually feel my energy moving, and I am intricately aware of every sensation in my body. When you really focus inwards you gain a deep understanding of your body, mind, and the biological (often unconscious) work that occurs within us. It is a very powerful connection, to really hear and feel your heart beat, your breath move, your circulation flowing. To know where you are holding tension in your body and being able to bring your breathing and energy (pranayama) into those tight places and create space and flow again.
My personal definition of dharana is not just concentration or focus, but it is even deeper to creating a sense of flow and power (consciously) of body, mind and energy. This depth of concentration integrates all the limbs, and builds your inner and outer strength.
Another great exercise to try for ‘focus’ is outwardly on a candle flame. This is an excellent way to train the mind to focus completely, as anytime the mind begins to wander you can redirect onto that flame.