A quick glimpse of Pratyahara – the fifth limbs of Yoga? What is it and How is it practiced?
In the classical yoga system usually known as ashtanga, we are supposed to practice 8 limbs. However, while people are so focusing on gaining the inner and outer dimensions, they almost forget the very important fifth limb – Pratyahara.
The idea of Pratyahara among 8 limbs of yoga is to harmonize and connect the two parts. So, we gain control of the whole body and mind.
The meaning of Pratyahara
Pratyahara is the combination of 2 words “Prati”-against and “Ahara”-food.
Therefore, pratyahara could be understood as “against the wrong food” or “master the senses”.
By that meaning, this limb of yoga maintains at 2 folds: remove or get away from wrong foods while take up and perceive good ones.
In a shorter version, you might hear about Pratyahara as a “control of senses” or “withdrawal of senses”.
The goal of practicing Pratyahara
Before jumping into the final goals of practicing Pratyahara, we want you to know more about hindrances of this limb.
First, about what hides in the name.
Food or Sahara mentioned in the term is not only real food what we eat and drink every day. It includes mental foods such as sensations, associations that people take every day. So when we talk about against foods, we also mean against all wrong foods, impressions and associations. That’s the basis of Pratyahara.
And as mentioned before, these terms work in 2 folds, against and also intake.
In conclusion, we can say the final goal of practicing it is to free your mind from bad impressions and relationships that you are taking in uncontrollably every day, it enhances your mind’s immunity and keep your move on with good energy after all.
And until you’ve gained that, you continue with higher limbs of yoga.
Practices of Pratyahara
Then how can people withdraw senses?
Well, here’s how it happens. It is divided into 4 steps of practicing.
Control of the sense and actions- indriya and karma
These are the first 2 important steps in reaching the final of these limbs.
At first, you need to learn how to control what you take in and react. What people don’t see nowadays is that they are undertaken by many sources of sensations and associations. It comes with overloading social media, bunches of new friends and relationships from society and they are controlled by senses blindly.
Senses will tell us how to do or simply, it controls our mind in everything including thoughts and actions. The point of the first step is gaining the control over senses.
Control of prana- prana
While people can do a good job of eating healthy food and refusing bad foods, they seem not be good at classifying impressions and associations.
The control of prana teaches you how to sort everything out, measure and decide if you should take in.
Withdrawal of mind from sense- mano
Finally, you come to be a master of your senses. It’s the final step for you to withdrawal of senses and control all over by yourself.
Nowadays, fewer people know about Pratyahara, even Yoga teachers. This limb occupies nowhere of the inner or outer but in the middle- the central dimension. It’s very important to know and to practice if you want to reach the completion of 8 limbs in yoga.