February 17, 2016

8 Limbs of Yoga: Pratyahara

As the limbs of yoga move onward, we dive deeper and deeper into ourselves. In our month of Flow, perhaps we think of it as flowing to that place of inner stillness and quiet, the place where we can offer the mind the chance to be quiet, and to know our abilities to find rest. As each limb of yoga flows lovingly into the next, they also build on one another, and become indistinguishable from one another, forming a beautiful woven pattern of behavior and abilities that guide us to that ultimate ending, the quieting of the mind.

In Sanskrit Prati is the prefix which means “against/away” and the ahara refers to those influences outside of ourselves. Translated this means “gaining mastery over external influences,” and/or in other texts “the withdrawal of the senses.”

By eliminating the chatter that comes from the outside world, we have the opportunity to look within, and to find where the work towards the quieting of the mind begins. Mindfulness Meditation is founded on this idea of offering ourselves this quiet place where we can notice what goes on in the mind, with little outside influence, and to take stock, and allow ourselves to release the thoughts. One central mindfulness practice is to gently work the mind from those noises and influences outside the body and scope the attention inward, in order to hone in slowly and carefully. 

This practice of working to allow the influence of the external is an important aspect of preparing the body and the mind for the next limbs of yoga, and further preparation of the mind. Another example of focusing on one sense, is when we are preparing for savasana is when we draw our attention to the weight of our bodies on the earth, and feel ourselves sinking into the mat. By allowing each breath, alighting our attention on the body becoming heavier on the mat, we are drawing our attention to one particular sense, we prepare the mind and the body for that space of relaxation and ease.

There are also meditations devoted to the senses, and to the practice of the control and withdrawal of our focus on all the internal input. July of last year, we have a blog on a Meditation on the Senses. Feel free to check that out as well!

It is amazing what allowing the outside world to float away can do for you. Allow yourself the possibility of a beautiful journey within. It is a glorious place:)