Pratyahara - withdrawal of senses

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Pratyahara is a preparatory meditation observe by which one learns to realize management over the sense organs. In yoga there are 11 sense organs in our physique; 5 are organs of motion (Pancha Karmendriyas), 5 are organs of notion (Pancha Jnanendriyas) and one is Manas.

Since the thoughts (or manas in yoga) is one in every of 11 sense organs, about mastering PratyaharaMeditation turns into a quite simple train.

Traditional definition

In eight limbs of yoga, Pratyahara involves the fifth step. In Yoga Sutras it’s outlined in Chapter 2 – Sadhana Pada, after discussing the primary 4 limbs of Yama, Niayama, Asana and Pranayama.

svavisaya asamprayoge cittasya svarupanukara iv endriyanam pratyaharah

Yoga Sutras by Patanjali 2.54

In the above sutra, Maharishi Patanjali, the daddy of yoga, launched the overall thought of ​​Pratyahara.

Pratyahara is when the senses (endriyanam) (asamprayoge) withdraw from the consumption of sensory objects (svavisaya), solely then (iv) do they flip inward and perceive the character of chitta (cittasya svarupanukara).

After all, understanding the character of chitta is the last word purpose of yoga practices.


In order to know what the time period "Pratyahara" means, it may be damaged down into its two fundamental ideas.

Pratyahara → Prati + Ahara

  • Prati means reverse
  • Ahara means the meals

In Pratyahara, Prati (reverse) defines a sure sequence of actions that needs to be prevented or "removed" from, and Ahara (meals) is known as to what we do by our sense organs, i.e. H. Objects within the mundane world, to eat.

So Pratyahara actually means to maneuver away from the sensory organ consumption of the world.

Normally we’re put into the earthly world by the cognitive senses and react to it by organs of motion. Our cognitive senses eyes, ears, nostril, mouth and pores and skin (jnanendriyas) assist us to understand the exterior objects, and thru karmendriyas, i.e. H. “Feet, hands, rectum, genitals and mouth”, we react to what we understand. It reveals that our consciousness is externalized underneath regular situations.

But within the observe of pratyahara, we understand the phenomena of the surface world and react to what’s going on inside us.

Pratyahara in the true world

No surprise our internal world is far calmer and richer in comparison with the outer world. Therefore, we wish to internalize the attention that usually flows outward.

Fox and turtle analogy in PratyaharaFox and turtle analogy in Pratyahara. Image supply: Himalaya Academy

You could have skilled this tranquility of the internal world when the issues of the outer world hold bothering you, however then if you shut your eyes for some time and are reduce off from the outer world, all the pieces appears great, prefer it isn't was no downside in any respect.

A quite common instance of that is the turtle. When the turtle senses hazard from the surface world, the turtle instantly pulls all of its limbs into its shell to guard it from hazard. As human beings, our hazard is stress, nervousness, melancholy, and different inputs from the surface world that we hold taking in. While “our limbs” are the 5 senses that we have to pull inward to keep away from this hazard.

Before Pratyahara begins

before PratyaharaImage supply: Canva

In the eight limbs of yoga, the primary 4 workouts, i.e. H. Yama, Niyama, Asana and Pranayama, known as Bahiranga Yoga, which implies outer limbs of yoga, and the following 4 are known as Antaranga yoga (internal limbs of yoga).

Pratyahara is the bridge that connects two sides of a coin, a journey from the surface world to the within world. Before starting the observe of Pratyahara, the physique needs to be ready each bodily and mentally by the primary 4 limbs of yoga.

  • Yama – 5 disciplines of interplay with others. Once you've mastered interacting with others, then
  • Niyama – 5 disciplines of interacting with your personal. Once you've mastered interacting with your personal, then
  • Asana – Preparing the physique for bodily obstacles. Once you’ve mastered together with your physique then
  • Pranayama – To get management of the breath and thus the thoughts.

In Pranayama, the final connection earlier than the start of Pratyahara is known as Kevala Kumbhaka.

Kevala Kumbhaka ends in Pratyahara

Kumbhaka is known as to a state of breath retention within the Hatha Yoga observe of Pranayama. There are two varieties;

  • Sahita Kumbhaka – – Holding the breath in pranayama with our personal effort
  • Kevala Kumbhaka – – Automatic interruption of breath for so long as the physician requests it.

The state of Kevala Kumbhaka is known as pure pranayama in which you’ll simply achieve management of your breath.

Once you’ve mastered pranayama i.e. H. Regulating the breath, the observe of Pratyahara truly begins. Why? Well, the breath controls the thoughts (or chitta in yoga) and as soon as chitta is in management we will simply direct outward flowing senses and consciousness again to the internal self.

When the breath wanders, the thoughts can be insecure. But when the breath is calm, the thoughts will probably be nonetheless too.

Hatha Yoga Pradipika

When the breath is in management, psychological exercise is stopped, and on this state the sense organs could be simply turned inward with little or no effort. This situation is called "sensory deprivation" or pratyahara.

What does "sensory deprivation" actually imply?

Body & Mind in PratyaharaImage supply: Canva

From the Pratyahara perspective, I understood that "sensory deprivation" means stopping my senses from interacting with the surface world. However, for those who perceive it that approach, in the end you’ll discover that in the long term it’s not potential to observe Pratyahara.

The downside, in fact, shouldn’t be that we dwell in a world by which we’re very acutely aware of what we see, hear, odor, style and contact, and sometimes act on it. The downside arises when you may't let go of sensory pleasure. What we regularly do, what we see, hear, odor, style and contact. The downside arises once we take care of it and over time overlook the origin from which all of it started.

In Pratyahara, "sensory deprivation" means to take care of a state of consciousness by which your cognitive senses and exterior attachments don’t disturb you in any approach. It implies that your actions, your physique, and your thoughts shouldn't be managed by the surface power or sensory enter, however actually needs to be underneath your management.

Here are some actual manifestations of Pratyahara when your senses are already withdrawn from the surface world with out even noticing you.

  • Imagine the second when your favourite meals smells everywhere in the room and even if you really feel the odor, it doesn't allow you to away from the duty you’re engaged on.
  • Sometimes in a contradicting scenario when somebody says one thing damaging to you and as an alternative of reacting the identical to the particular person, you react positively.
  • Imagine as you stroll your toes are frivolously poked. Instead of responding to sensory enter of ache, you had let go of this.

In all of those circumstances you weren’t actually being pushed by the enter of your senses, however unconsciously you have been watching the demand of the hour and because it was probably not needy you had let go of the conditions. It could be known as Pratyhara in Abhayasa (course of).

Body and thoughts in Pratyahara

What can we usually feed our physique and thoughts all day? Pizza, burgers, espresso, social media, information, chaos, advertisements, magazines and different issues that set off our feelings and thus the sensory organs searching for increasingly more. It entails a variety of metabolic exercise and power expenditure.

But within the state of Pratyhara, the physique and thoughts are purported to obtain their nourishment or inputs from inside from the self. Some information articles have proven how some superior yogis in India lived for many years with out meals and water, and furthermore, some yogis even survived a number of hours with out breath. There is not any proof that you could obtain these kinds of superficial powers whereas training Pratyahara, however it’s meant to indicate how a lot power our physique and thoughts have. Although this power may have many names, some name it Kundalini Shakti whereas others name it Pranic Shakti, nevertheless it has a supply in all beings and that’s the soul.

The second you check out this delicate life power (known as Prana in yoga) in your physique, you’re already training Pratyahara with out even realizing it. Our metabolic exercise decreases at this second and the power that needs to be consumed by our senses is decreased by virtually 40%.

final phrases

Most of the time in our each day life, what determines the definition of fine or unhealthy, proper or flawed, joyful or unhappy, nice or uncomfortable, relies solely on our senses. When the senses are the masters of our life, we change into slaves of our exterior experiences.

Pratyahara shouldn’t be about going in opposition to your will or in opposition to what you need, however slightly understanding the distinction or the boundary between what you really want and what your senses crave. It's about controlling the thirst of your senses that has scattered your consciousness outward.


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