Pratyahara is the 5th limb of yoga and it is concerned with taking us from the outside to the inside, with withdrawing the senses, so that the yogi like an inner-naut can travel within and find the “Self”.
One way to test how difficult pratyahara is, says B.K.S. Iyengar, is to go for a walk and at the same time try not to comment or judge or even name what you see hear or smell:
In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the second chapter is filled with teachings about the astanga or eight-limbed yoga system. The astanga system is presented as a series of practices which begin with external limbs like ethical precepts and move toward more internal limbs like meditation. The fifth step or limb is called pratyahara and is defined as the conscious withdrawal of energy from the senses. Almost without exception yoga students are puzzled by this limb. We seem to inherently understand the basic ethical teachings like satya which is the practice of truthfulness, for example, or pranayama, the use of breath to effect the mind, or the practice of conscious posture or asana. But for most of us the practice of pratyahara remains elusive.
Study yoga NIDRA with us and you will kind of be on your journey of pratyahara practice
You do not need to seek freedom in some distant land. For everything already exists within your own body. Heart. Mind. And Soul. BKS IYENGAR
Ahhhh dance with them all all right here, right now, to this carefully curated playlist of that already exists within this very moment together. No distant lands needed, no pollution created to go anywere when going in with these JIVAs and these perfect tunes.
Sutra 2.54: sva vishaya asamprayoge chittasya svarupe anukarah iva indriyanam pratyaharah
Translated loosely into English;
When the mental sense organs, which imitate the appearance in the mental realm, dissolve back into the mind, this is pratyahara. When the mental sense organs cease to grasp at external and internal objects, manifest or un-manifest, the student remains fee. The mind, detached from earthly objects and sensory stimulation, realizes that all is within. This includes renunciation of external and internal objects, desires of sensations, mental tendencies, afflictions and aversions. The student is independent of all worldly desires.
One path leads outward and the other inward.
You can walk the way outward that leads to pleasure
Or the way inward that leads to grace.
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