There are 8 limbs to a full Yoga practice. Each limb is a complete discipline and a life long journey of learning.
The 8 limbs are; Yama, Niyama, Ãsana, Prãnayãma, Pratyãhãra, Dhãrana, Dhyãna and Samadhi. In this article we’ll look at Pratyãhãra.
Each limb of Yoga prepares you for the next one. The Pratyãhãra practice helps to settle the active, wandering mind for a seated meditation practice. It moves your attention from being drawn to external distractions to an internal practice.
Pratyãhãra is the withdrawal of the senses, to retreat, to return to. When you withdraw sensorial experience you become more aware of your internal world, the movement, sensations, thoughts and emotions of your inner world.
A simple act of going to a quiet place can reduce the literal and metaphorical noise of your external world.
Being in nature provides an immediate backdrop for this. It automatically provides the refuge for checking in with yourself and reflection.
In the modern world even when you are in nature – you can be interrupted.
In order to truly practice Pratyãhãra and to facilitate contemplation and meditation, modern technology must take a back seat. Any technology driven notification will immediately draw you away from your internal experience and awareness. Leave your phone off and that includes your smart watch notifications that may also disturb you. Be mindful, choose to be in your own company without interruption.
You could literally miss this view if you are looking at your phone to check something. Don’t check your phone and let it dictate your life. Check in with your self. How are you actually doing?
Another example of Pratyãhãra is simply closing your eyes. Anything that reduce the stimulation of the external world will allow the space for practice to occur.
This can be built easily into your everyday. Build a new habit of checking back in.
Through the practice of Pratyãhãra, you will notice how you are lead by your senses and how they usually dictate what you do ; sight, hearing, taste smell and touch.
There are many Pratyãhãra practices to aid in meditation and some of theses include Yoga Nidra, Trataka, Nada Yoga, Japa and Kirtan. Think of these as supports for your mediation practice. Some practices you will automatically be drawn to and may stay with, some will suit you more than others, some might suit you for a while and then you will move to something else. The only way of knowing is through experience.
As with everything in Yoga – it is your practice, your connection, your path and you must find practices that suit you. There is no “One Way.
All 8 limbs of Yoga offer a lifelong path of learning and practice.
To have a full Yoga practice all 8 limbs will be incorporated into your life.
So what does Going to Yoga mean? Your Yoga is where you are, not just on the mat.
Food for thought…
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