11/20/17 Weekly Topic: The Fifth Limb of Yoga- Pratyahara

Pratyahara is the withdrawal of the senses.  What does that even mean? You know when someone starts talking to you and you completely zone out, not hearing a word they said, not remembering what was going on in your head, and not seeing anything around you?  That’s almost it, in sorts!  So how do you practice that? I wouldn’t recommend you doing it at work or driving or during any important times, but I would suggest trying it out in small increments starting with 30 seconds and working your way up.

I think the best way to practice Pratyahara is with the eyes closed, and either in easy seated pose or in savasana (corpse pose.) Typically when you are finishing up a yoga class you end in one of these asanas and this is the perfect time to practice it. However, if you are easily distracted, like I am, you may want to practice it at home either when you first get up or just before bed. Once in position, close the eyes and turn your attention and awareness to your body. Notice the rise and fall of your chest, if thoughts try to sneak in take a deep breath and release those thoughts along with the breath, until all you notice is the air flowing in and out of the body. Notice you heart beating, notice your blood flowing through your veins, notice your cells receiving nutrients. Eventually the thought of the smallest molecule in your body floats away and you have that sense of being without senses.

It is common to fall asleep when practicing Pratyahara, if it happens don’t judge yourself and know you achieved Pratyahara for a moment. Concentrating on exactly nothing is a challenging task especially in today’s world of multi-multi tasking. If you do not achieve Pratyahara the first 10 times you try it do not get discouraged or judge yourself, the fact that you are trying to achieve the withdrawal of senses is challenging in itself. Pratyahara helps relieve stress by calming our sympathetic nervous system thus allowing the parasympathetic nervous system to engulf the body becoming deeply relaxed and open to the inner body reflecting to the outside the state of calmness and just being.

Lets zone in to zone out of our senses.


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