Pratyahara is the 5th limb of yoga and it is concerned with taking us from the outside to the inside, with withdrawing the senses, so that the yogi, like an inner-naut, can travel within and find the Self.
Rather our senses look out with inquisitive fire, naming, owning what they see "as if life was a nonstop shopping spree". Ouch, that hurt. Probably because it is so true.
What you will see below are descriptions, definitions, purposes I found on pratyahara in no particular order. They are all from Iyengar unless otherwise noted. I spared the quotation marks as they are all or partly quotes. I guess I am doing this post mostly for myself as I am exploring this right now. I would say my favorite is #7:
1.- The yogic purpose of pratyahara is to make the mind shut up so we can concentrate.
3.- Iyengar says that in Sanskrit, pratyahara literally means "to draw toward the opposite". The normal movement of the senses is to flow outward and this limb is concerned with going against that grain, a difficult reaction.
4.- Pratyahara is mano-vrtti nirodha, it directly works from the mind like a pneumatic tool to cut its outgoing habits by changing its direction to penetrate inwards towards the core.
5.- One night at Eddie's shala he reminded us how Guruji says in Yoga Mala that yoga is a path we step into and that will lead us towards unveiling the Self. I remember being disoriented as I could not grasp what "Self" meant. Pratyahara, says Iyengar, helps the mind to acquire knowledge of the Self.
Withdrawing the senses helps us come into the present moment without any filters, that is what Jois meant, how to come to a blank state where there is no projection, where we simply are.
6.- When at the stage of prathyahara the aspirant requires stable and intense self-study ... [because]... the ego takes pride even in this controlled mind. At that point the mind has to direct the energy towards concentration (the next step), or fall for the ego's uprising. There lies the difficulty in pratyahara.
7.- Pratyahara is a tableland for maintaining, sustaining and retaining what is gained through the previous limbs.
8.- Pratyahara is a culture on the mind. As I see it is a "new wiring", a creation of a new habit of sorts where we change directions as the attention constantly goes out and we rein it inside.
9.- Pratyahara undoubtedly is very difficult, as it has to be firmly established on asana and pranayama which discipline the organs of action, perception, and mind.
10.- Swami Vivekananda (who introduced yoga and Vedanta to Europe and America) calls Pratyahara a "gathering towards", as in freeing it from the thralldom of the senses. Says that when we can do this well we shall really possess character and have made a long step towards freedom; before then, we are "machines".
Am I Projecting? 7 Checks
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