The fifth limb of yoga, Pratyahara — the withdrawal of the senses, is about starting to turn your focus inward. When you can explore your sensed perception at a deeper level, you can more deeply discern what you really feel, want, and need.
Have you ever instinctively closed your eyes while listening to music to become lost or embodied by what you were hearing? The withdrawal of the sense of sight is an example of Pratyahara. In that moment, could you “feel” the music, physically? Did you feel the baseline beating in your chest? The treble notes making your arms and head sway? You literally felt moved by the music.
The more we practice Pratyahara the less we become distracted by the things around us. We learn to let one sense go at a time. When we concentrate, each sense becomes less and less noticeable. Undistracted by our senses it allows us to hone into what we’re really feeling, unswayed by excessive outside information. This practice helps us increase our level of discernment.
When we’re in the thralls of infertility, we find ourselves constantly chasing the next thing to hopefully get us pregnant, and ignoring the things that might be making us truly happy or unhappy. “Maybe if I eat brazil nuts after the ovulation (even though I hate them), it’ll finally work this time!” “Let’s do the next round of treatment in the fall because that’s when more babies are conceived even though I have a huge work project during that time.” “We can pull out another personal loan to try again even though we still live in a one-bedroom apartment. The baby can just sleep in our room too!”
Next week, we’ll introduce a few exercises to practice Pratyahara. In the meantime visit our blog posts on the first four limbs of yoga: Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama.