Pratyahara, the fifth limb of yoga, means withdrawal of the senses or sensory transcendence. It is during this stage that we make the conscious effort to draw our awareness away from the external world and outside stimuli. Keenly aware of, yet cultivating a detachment from, our senses, we direct our attention internally. The practice of pratyahara provides us with an opportunity to slow down, step back and take a look at ourselves. This withdrawal allows us to objectively observe our cravings: habits that are perhaps detrimental to our health and which likely interfere with our inner growth.
To cultivate pratyahara on our yoga mats in last week’s classes here at The Yoga Room, students were encouraged to blindfold themselves (or at least keep their eyes closed, no cheating allowed! ;) Comments I heard after class ranged from “That was hard” to “I loved it!” The best response I got when I asked if it was peaceful or challenging to be blindfolded was “It was peacefully challenging.” So the next time your yoga practice is feeling a little stale, blindfold yourself and take the opportunity to see what more you can learn about yourself on your yoga mat.