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The Power of Pratyahara

This is a follow up to last week's blog post that explains fully what the practice of "Pratyahara" is. If you missed that post, I suggest reading it first. You can find it here: One of the reasons the practice of pratyahara is so important is that it affects all the other limbs of yoga. By cultivating Pratyahara, we are better able to focus and direct our attention inward enabling us to do the real work of self-study, mindfulness and meditation. Let's take a look at how practicing Pratyahara affects the 5 Yamas (which are explained in detail in my other blog posts)... I'm going to go through the 5 Yamas backwards, beginning with Brahmacarya, or "conservation of energy". By practicing pratyahara, we are better able to conserve our energy. It is necessary to be able to let go of external stimuli, in order to conserve our energy. As we cultivate pratyahara, we are no longer reaching towards every outward desire, distraction, or pleasure. We can begin to do self care and prioritize how we spend our energy to better care for ourselves and our inner practices. Pratyahara also affects the 4th yama, Aparigraha, or "non-grasping". When we practice pratyahara and focus inward, there is no longer any need for grasping. We realize that we have everything we need and we are able to let go of anything that no longer serves us. This in turn, leads to the 3rd yama, Asteya, or "non-stealing". When we realize we have everything we need, there is no need to take more than that, and we are able to cultivate abundance and gratitude. Also, by going within, we cultivate awareness of our actions and can be more mindful about what we buy, what we use, and how we live - and how this might affect others in our community. Through the practice of pratyahara, we are also able to cultivate Satya or "truthfulness". By eliminating negative impressions and distractions that pull us away from "True Self", we are able to align with our inner "Truth". We begin to realize what is real and what is not real. We begin to realize what we are NOT, and when our thoughts and actions come from that place of connection to "True Self", we are truthful both to ourselves and to others. Finally, we come to the 1st yama, Ahimsa, the practice of "compassion or non-violence". If we continue to practice pratyahara, we are eventually able to experience our connection to a Higher Consciousness. Once you truly experience that connection, you realize you are also connected to all beings. There is no separation. Ahimsa becomes a natural way of living. Om Shanti.

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