Pratyahara, the fifth limb of the Ashtanga Yoga Tradition, has been the focus of our classes this month. Pratyahara is classically defined as “withdrawing of the senses” but it can also be defined as “drawing together.” We are drawing together our awareness of our inner landscape with our outer landscape.
Here’s how you can begin:
“As you stand, first, become hyper-aware of the sounds you hear in this room. Now, move deeper and listen to the sound of your breath moving in your own body. As you breathe, become aware of the feeling of your clothes and also the air on your skin. Now, move deeper and become aware of the feeling of the blood moving in your own veins. As you feel, become aware of the color behind your eyelids. Commit to looking deeper. Go inside. Listen, feel and look.”
(I’m sure that’s adapted from some great text or great yoga teacher, but I’ve been using it in my own instruction for so long that I have no recollection of its original source. A few of you asked me to put it in writing for you… it’s all yours!)
Why pratyahara? Because pratyahara deepens our skill of listening. When we listen with greater attention, we become convinced that this lived experience is infinitely abundant. Infinitely supportive. Infinitely joyful. Simply because we are moving and breathing. When we listen with greater attention, we become more skilled at paying attention to our own inner voice, our own inner wisdom. And…after a while, we discover that our own inner voice is no different than the voice of our Creator.
What are you listening to?