Pratyahara Yoga: Meaning, Definition, Benefits, Sutras, Types and More

pratyahara yoga

Yoga is the pathway to knowing your inner self. People may confuse yoga with some physical exercise which it truly is not. It is not a very particular term, but it has many different aspects. The goal is to increase your focus while consciously ignoring the external stimulus. The best way to understand the true meaning of yoga is through learning about the eight limbs of yoga. 

It consumes a lot of spiritual and mental energy to go into a state of salutation. One has to get ready for it through practice and experience. Here the principle of pratyahara plays an important role. It is one of the 8 limbs of yoga and teaches us to balance the external and internal stimuli. 

Meaning of Pratyahara Yoga

Pratyahara yoga is the fifth limb of ashtanga yoga. It teaches us how to disconnect from the world even while staying connected with it. Generally, people need silence and isolation to meditate and focus. But the practice of pratyahara teaches us to control our minds and turn a blind eye to what is happening around us. It is not as easy as it sounds. 

Our sense organs are active till we are alive. They can feel the external stimulus and thereby send the signals to our brains. This sometimes disrupts our meditation practice or dhyana mudra. 

Pratyahara lets our mind withdraw from every external sense and only focus on where we want it. It is a let-go situation where we train our minds to let go of everything happening around us.

Also read: Everything you must know about Adaptive Yoga

Pratyahara Yoga Definition

Pratyahara, the word is a constitution of two Sanskrit words. It is a combination of prati + ahara. What do you think these two words mean? 

The word prati means to withdraw, and the other word ahara means food. In yogic terms, food here refers to the external world and the pleasure and pain we get through it. 

Learning pratyahara is very important to attain self-consciousness. Without losing interest in materialistic pleasures, it is almost impossible to experience the divine. Disengaging your body and mind from the external world creates an optimal environment to focus on your inner world. This may be termed self-realisation. 

Pratyahara is also a great way to control your emotions and body. It helps you to leave every materialistic delusion that you are attached to. 

Eight Limbs Of Yoga Explained

As per the ancient yogic text records of the Patanjali yoga sutra, there are, in total, eight limbs of the yogic system. Learning and conquering every sutra is essential to reach the state of samadhi or ultimate pleasure. Let us know the eight limbs now.

1. Yamas

Yamas are essential to becoming an ideal human being. It includes ahimsa, satya, asteya, brahmacharya and aparigraha

2. Niyamas

These are the disciples that everyone must include in their life. These are purity, contentment, self-discipline, self-study and surrender.

3. Asana

Asana or physical exercises are essential to keep your body working and for physical well-being. 

4. Pranayama

Attaining control over breath is vital to keep the energy flow and balance the internal and external world. 

5. Pratyahara

This is the important part that a yogi needs to do before starting the dhyana. Ignoring the external world while focusing on your inner self is pratyahara. 

6. Dharana

This is where the dhyana starts through attaining the state of concentration. 

7. Dhyana

To mediate or focus.

8. Samadhi

It is to attain the ultimate state of enlightenment of reaching the ultimate pleasure. 

Also read : Anulom Vilom Pranayama: Meaning, How to Do, Top Benefits & Faqs

All Types of Pratyahara Yoga

There are 4 types of pratyahara yoga. These are to control various external and internal senses of our body and mind. 

1. Indriya Pratyahara-

Indriya means our 5 sense organs. It is essential to take control of these 5 senses to go into a meditative state. This will help to detach from the external world and do the dhyana properly. 

2. Prana Pratyahara-

Prana is the energy that keeps flowing inside our bodies. It can be, though, as the air, we breathe that helps us stay alive. It is important to control the flow of this energy so that we can make optimal use of it. This could be achieved through anulom vilom pranayama

3. Karma Pratyahara-

Karmas are our actions and the rewards or reactions we get. To attain samadhi, it is important to control our karmas and limit them only for the good of this world. To leave every selfish desire behind and live for the betterment of this world. 

4. Mano Pratyahara-

This pratyahara teaches us to control the inner sense of our mind and soul. Balancing out our inner selves is important for meditation. It is the prime way to leave behind materialism and all worldly delusions. 

Benefits of Pratyahara

There are innumerable benefits of pratyahara that can only be experienced through practice. However, there are a few which could be experienced in physical terms as well. 

  • It is a great way to cool down our bodies. 
  • It helps us stay more active and aware by controlling the path of the flow of energy.
  • Removes stress and anxiety. Thereby giving our lives a more positive approach and way of living. 
  • Pratyahara is a great means to remove all negative feelings and thoughts from our minds.
  • Develops endurance for physical injuries by controlling the senses and stimulus. 

Pratyahara Yoga FAQs

1. What is pratyahara?

Pratyahara is one of the important limbs of yoga that is essential to attain samadhi. It teaches us to disconnect ourselves from the external world while doing dhyana.

2. What is real pratyahara yoga meaning?

In particular, pratyahara is not yoga but a part of it that helps us control our mind, body, karma and senses. 

3. What are pratyahara yoga sutras?

Pratyahara is the fifth yoga sutra as per the yoga sutras of Patanjali.

4. Are there any pratyahara asanas?

Shavasana is a great asana to practise pratyahara. It calms down our bodies and takes our minds to a relaxing state. It also helps us to focus on our internal energy. 

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Closing Words

Pratyahara is the best way to give your soul and mind the freedom to know your inner world. It lets us attain the realisation of what our life is all about and what is the best way to live it. Pratyahara is not a simple practice and needs proper training to master. 
Our online yoga programs allow you to learn every yogic aspect properly. Making yoga a part of your daily life will help you reach the pratyahara sutra.


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