What is pratyahara?

The fifth limb of yoga is pratyahara, the withdrawal of the senses. As with any other limb, your own interpretation of pratyahara may be different from someone else’s.

But what do I mean “withdrawal of the senses”?

Imagine a turtle, pulling each limb (no pun intended 😉 ) into its shell, hiding all of the “feelers” that have been collecting information from the external world. Imagine that for a few minutes, you could not use your eyes, ears, nose, tongue, or skin to gather feedback from everything around you.

What would be left?

Much like the heart chakra is the bridge between physical and spiritual chakra energy, pratyahara is the connection between the physical and spiritual limbs of yoga. Once you begin practicing the withdrawal of the senses, you are entering an intangible realm of presence.

You are more than your senses and your physical body. Pratyahara helps us connect with ourselves on this level. If you’re looking to incorporate some withdrawal of the senses, here are a few exercises to try:

  • Close your eyes
  • Practice Brahmari pranayama, or Bumblebee breathing 🐝
  • Lay in Savasana or practice Tortoise Pose (Kurmasana) 🐢
  • Reduce distracting stimuli, like putting a screen time limit on certain apps or your phone
  • Try turning off the background noise (e.g. the TV while cooking)
  • Notice when you get bored and how quickly you look for entertainment

Some of these practices may feel uncomfortable at first. Listen to what is happening within, and you may find some answers that you didn’t know you had 😌


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