Samyama

Definition - What does Samyama mean?

Samyama is a Sanskrit term which describes the uppermost three limbs of Raja yoga as outlined in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. It is the simultaneous practice and experience of:

  • Dharana - complete focus or concentration
  • Dhyana - meditation or contemplation
  • Samadhi - divine union

These three processes are more internal than the other limbs of yoga and, as such, are considered to be more associated with the mind. While the other limbs work to purify the body, prana and the senses, dharana, dhyana and samadhi purify the mind.

To be in samyama is to be in a state where you have perfect control over the mind. In this state, the illusions that you are the body or the mind are said to fall away.

Yogapedia explains Samyama

Samyama is a practice by which the yogi can gain tremendous knowledge and power. It can be applied with a focus on any one object at a time. When it is practiced on an object, the yogi practicing samyama is said to be able to dive deep and find the truest knowledge of the object.

It is said that the yogi should begin by focusing on tangible objects, then refining their practice as they shift to subtler objects. For example, when they focus on external objects, they gain hidden knowledge of the universe. Then by focusing on the mind, they may gain different powers and experiences.

The state of samadhi practiced within samyama is different from the ultimate state of samadhi, which is the ultimate goal of yoga. It is still a preparatory state because it needs something for the mind to focus on. In the final state of samadhi, nothing is needed.

Regular practice of samyama will firm a yogi’s knowledge of samadhi, making it more natural and lucid. In this way, a student of yoga can further progress along their spiritual path.

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