Sensory Withdrawal: An Overview of Pratyahara

 

In this lesson, you will learn about Patanjali’s fourth limb of yoga called pratyahara, which involves controlling the senses and limiting external distraction so that you can move inward.

 

Video Commentary: Relax (Pratyahara)

Video Transcript

 

Pratyahara – sensory withdrawal.

The fifth limb of yoga is pratyahara. Is a state of internal focus. It is a state achieved by quieting outside stimulation and concentrating the mind.

The result of experiencing pratyahara is knowledge of the true Self. Pratyahara is the bridge between the external and internal aspects of yoga practice. It is approached through the first four limbs of yoga – yama, niyama, asana, and pranayama – and then realized and utilized in the final three limbs that we will discuss next dharana, dyana, and samadhi.

Swami Niranjananda: What is Pratyahara, Awareness, and Consciousness?

5 Techniques for Pratyahara

 

From the discipline of the yamas to the strength and balance of asana and pranayama, you will have a proper foundation for the inner practice of deep meditation. However, meditation also requires a quieting of the mind. To achieve this, the yogi practices pratyahara so the at mind can relax from the distractions of the outside world. Here are five techniques for achieving pratyahara.

Sight

When you see the world with the eyes, the habit is for the mind to follow. To practice pratyahara, apply concentrated effort to bring the reflex of the mind back under control so that what is seen does not automatically produce a mental unevenness.

five senses - sight

Sound

When you hear the world with the ears, the habit is for the mind to follow. To practice pratyahara, apply concentrated effort to bring the reflex of the mind back under control so that what is heard does not automatically produce a mental unevenness.

five senses - sound

Touch

When you touch the world with the body, the habit is for the mind to follow. To practice pratyahara, apply concentrated effort to bring the reflex of the mind to hot and cold back under control so that what is felt does not automatically produce mental unevenness.

five senses - touch

Smell

When you smell the world with the nose, the habit is for the mind to follow. To practice pratyahara, apply concentrated effort to bring the reflex of the mind back under control so that what is smelled does not automatically produce a mental unevenness.

five senses - smell

Taste

When you taste the world with the mouth, the habit is for the mind to follow. To practice pratyahara, apply concentrated effort to bring the reflex of the mind back under control so that tastes such as spicy, sweet, sour, and bitter, do not automatically produce mental unevenness.

five senses - taste

As you can see now, it is only through the strength of one’s practice that the mind can be withdrawn from the automatic disruption of passionate responses to external stimulation.

*As recorded in the Gheranda Samhita

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