The Fifth Limb of Yoga: Pratyahara

The fifth limb of the eight limbs of yoga is Pratyahara.                                                      Pratyahara is most commonly describedWhiteLotus as the withdrawal of the senses. Swami Satyananda Saraswati describes Pratyahara as the “disassociation of consciousness from the outside environment,” and according to the Shiva Sutras Pratyahara is “both withdrawal of the mind from its object and withdrawal of the senses from their objects.” Through the practice of Pratyahara the yogi can withdraw his consciousness and attain control over the elements.

There are six senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch, and thought. Besides the typical five senses, thought is considered a sixth sense because thought, like things we see, hear, taste, smell, and touch, is a distraction for stilling and silencing the mind. The practice of Pratyahara is to turn our perceptions, our energy, and our awareness inward. We simply observe what our senses detect and the thoughts that arise, and then let those senses and thoughts pass as they will. Practicing Pranayama, which brings our focus inwards to our breath and prana, is integral for stilling the mind and withdrawing from the perceptions of the senses and the external environment and elements. Through the practice of Pratyahara we can quiet the mind so that our consciousness, our True Self, can arise.

When we looked at pratyahara, we saw that freedom offers us a choice – either to go on as before, driven by external forces and gratifications, or to turn inward and use our gentle powers to seek out the Self.

– B.K.S. Iyengar, Light On Life

It is good to tame the mind, which is difficult to hold in and flighty, rushing wherever it listeth; a tamed mind brings happiness. Let the wise man guard his thoughts, for they are difficult to perceive, very artful, and they rush wherever they list: thoughts well guarded bring happiness.

– Dhammapada 35-36

Luminous is this mind, brightly shining, but it is colored by the attachments that visit it. 

– Anguttara Nikaya

The contemplative does not cease to know external objects. But he ceases to be guided by them. He ceases to depend on them.

– Thomas Merton

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About Julianne Victoria

I am a writer, healer, spiritual life coach, astrologer & tarot reader in Santa Barbara, CA. I hope to help heal, teach, and inspire others on their journeys and in this life. © Julianne Victoria and Through the Peacock's Eyes Press under the Common Law Copyright; My main Blog: www.peacockseyes.com
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8 Responses to The Fifth Limb of Yoga: Pratyahara

  1. Thankyou Juliannji – that racehorse the mind – reins do come into ones hands with pranayam though.

  2. lybsta says:

    Very cool! I didn’t see this until after I wrote my post on Pratyahara. I love when the yogi minds are thinking in synchronicity. Sat Nam!

  3. ~~~S Wave~~~ says:

    Thank you for sharing this! It reminds me of what I just posted yesterday: http://lifeasawave.wordpress.com/2013/03/21/from-one-to-one/
    It seems like just as my soul begins to seek understanding and answers, those answers spring up from unexpected places like this post of yours!!
    Looking forward to staying connected.

  4. Good info here – I particularly like the Iyengar quote. Thanks!

  5. Great quotes, good info! Sometimes, effortlessly, Pratyahara happens, but I don’t realize it until it stops. I found this from Patanjali’s Yoga sutras and thought it was adequate to add here:
    “Yogash chitta vritti nirodhah.
    Tada drashtuh svarupe avasthanam.
    Yoga is the mastery of the activities of the mind-field.
    Then the seer rests in its true nature.”

  6. iamforchange says:

    That explains a lot! 🙂 i several ways! Thanks for sharing the post. In my current state of residence finding such a yoga group and practice is a difficult task. Want to send a friend or two to Utah I would attend the classes!

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