Pratyahara, the fifth limb of yoga, is defined as the withdrawal of the senses from the external world to turn inward to one’s own inner source of energy. This can be achieved by meditation, concentration, or even just simple breathing exercises.

Pratyahara is translated as “withdrawal of the senses” and it is one of the most important limbs of yoga. The word pratyahara is derived from the Sanskrit ‘prati’ meaning ‘to let’ and ‘hara’ meaning ‘to restrain’. Thus, pratyahara means to withdraw the senses from the objects of the five senses (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching) and regulate them to the consciousness of the Self.

With Pratyahara, you can experience the benefits of Yoga asanas such as relaxation, better sleep, and concentration. Many people practice Pranayama but not Pratyahara, which helps you relax the nervous system. The nervous system is part of the body-mind, and the two are connected. A relaxed nervous system leads to a calm body and an alert mind.

In yoga classes we are regularly asked to concentrate on our breathing. We are asked to shift our attention from the outer world to the inner. Little by little, as we practice, we tune into that place within us that exists beyond our senses.

Sometimes it’s easier, sometimes it’s harder. But this is actually part of a very important path in the eight-part practice of yoga, which is pratyahara, or the refusal of the senses.

Pratyahara and the Eight Limbs of Yoga

The practice of asana is often considered a central element of yoga, although it is only one part of it. The classical system of yoga, described in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, consists of eight stages, which can be divided into outer yoga and inner yoga.

The first four limbs are treated as external yoga. These are ethical standards (yama), self-discipline (niyama), physical yoga practice (asana) and breath control (pranayama).

The fifth branch of yoga, pratyahara, can be seen as a bridge between outer and inner yoga. It leads the practitioner to the finer arts of concentration and meditation, and ultimately to samadhi (enlightenment). The word pratyahara comes from the Sanskrit prati and ahara. Prati means against or away, and ahara is what we take in from outside.

Pratyahara is the detachment of all outer information, so that we can hear the sounds from within.

Why is it important to practice Pratyahara?

We receive a constant stream of information through our five senses. Needless to say, in the digital age, sensory overload can be overwhelming and it becomes increasingly difficult to find time for sensory rest.

When we react immediately to information from our senses, we withdraw from our inner world and focus on the changing outer world. Emotions can easily take control of us, and we end up running from one impulsive reaction to another, losing sight of our higher goals in life.

How can I practice Pratyahara?

Our senses are necessary for daily life, so how can we cultivate the practice of pratyahara?

Fortunately, the answer is quite simple: Anything that diverts your attention from outside impressions and creates peaceful and positive impressions within is pratyahara.

Detoxification by the media.

We can start by giving up things that are harmful to us, like unhealthy food and toxic relationships. The mind cannot be healthy and strong if we are surrounded by unhealthy things, and the same goes for the media we consume.

What experiences do you feed off of through television or social media? Is it a source of inspiration or unhealthy food for thought? To distract yourself from this sensory overload, spend some time without media. Even if it’s just a few hours every other day, turn off your phone, TV and laptop and focus your attention on yourself.

Go out into the world.

During the asana practice, we release physical tension. This is important so that the mind becomes calm and perfectly prepared for the next steps of yoga. Cultivate the elements of pratyahara by leaving the outside world behind and being fully present on your mat. Be aware of your feelings and observe your reactions to them.

We cannot change what we are not aware of, and the practice of asana provides a perfect platform for self-discovery. ~ Kaisa Kapanen

Focus on your mind, and the feelings will follow.

The mind can only take in a certain amount of sensory input, so the energy flows to what the mind is focused on. We can use this in pratyahara and intentionally turn the mind inward, away from external stimuli. When the mind is under control, so are the senses.

You can start by focusing your mind on one sense, for example. B. by ear. The next time you are in savasana, let your mind focus on all the different sounds around you, far and near. Don’t try to judge or name the sounds, just listen. When the mind becomes accustomed to sounds, it naturally focuses more on the inner world.

Patience and practice

Yoga is a process of discovery and growth. Just as practicing asana takes time, practicing mindfulness takes time. We can’t jump into the crow pose on the first day of our asana practice, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get there.

We must give our minds the same freedom to grow and develop. Be patient, practice and take each day as it comes.Pratyahara is the fifth limb of yoga, and it’s also known as concentration. In this step, you will be concentrating on your breath. You don’t have to close your eyes while doing this step, but it can help.. Read more about pratyahara mudra and let us know what you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

How you would explain pratyahara?

Pratyahara is the process of withdrawing the senses from their objects. It is a form of meditation that involves focusing on one’s breath and body sensations.

What is sense withdrawal in yoga?

Sense withdrawal is a yoga technique that involves the practitioner withdrawing from their senses. This can be done by closing your eyes, turning away from external stimuli, or focusing on an internal sensation.

What is the objective of pratyahara?

The objective of pratyahara is to withdraw the senses from external objects and focus on the inner world.

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