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Pratyahara is mentioned in Patanjali Yoga Sutra (one of the most powerful, authentic and spiritual texts available on yoga.) as the fifth Limb of eight Limbs yoga system of this text.

The inner journey starts and Before Pratyahara, body is aligning and making its own fitness for the real meditative states. Bodily fitness and the meditative states has a link through Pratyahara. It is only after Pratyahara, the inner journey starts thereafter understanding self starts understanding the self happens through Pratyahara.

Understanding Pratyahara Through Desire

Lets understand this way. We all have desires and we want to fulfill them. Desire is nothing but to connect to a certain kind of energy in the outside world to fulfill ourselves. When you are done with one Desire, you have another desire waiting on the way. Fulfilling different kinds of desires, doing different kinds of work and feel attracted towards the outside world is the normal human tendency. when we start practicing yoga by following Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayam we would understand and realise that all our journey, our wantings, desires and cravings in the outside world has no meaning. What we are searching outside is already there within us.

When we understand that something better, more meaningful, divine and the centre of ourselves lies within us suggests we are already in this phase.

Inner Journey In Yoga Sadhana

From Pratyahara, the journey of the inner world starts. After which 3 more limbs are mentioned and are termed as 1-Dharna, 2-Dhyan, 3-Samadhi. This is also called Rajyoga. Rajyog is a combination of three limbs. Dharna, dhyan and samadhi, which takes us in ourselves. if we don’t go through Pratyahara, dharna, dhyan and samadhi, these three limbs also doesn’t work. I don’t think it is you don’t want to get into the Pratyahara. Pratihara is just a transition period.

Also when you have a strong craving, to know yourself, to know the truth and to realise yourself, Pratyahara has already taken place because some of your energies have moved inwards.This is the reason you have been trying to understand yourself. This powerful craving happens when the energies start to move inwards.This is Pratyaharaa. Energy is one. It can be moved outwards or inwards. When it starts moving inward, you have less attraction in the outside world.The energy is moving less outside and inside and that is why when it happens.

 

So knowing the self is only through Pratyahara. knowing the self means you take energy from the outside world and move towards your inside world. When it starts moving in your inner world, it is the journey of meditation. The journey to be close to our own selves starts.

Where the conversion of the flow of energy from the outside world to the inside world happens is called Pratyahara.

Pratyahara means most of your energy starts moving in your inner self and stops moving in the outside world and when all this energy starts moving into the innerself you go ,into the state of meditation.

And when I talk about the movement of energy from the outside world towards inner world for a  long period of time, it becomes the permanent state. It’s the permanent state where your body energies are now bent inwards and you know now that there is also some inner world exists. Because you have been practicing it and thinking about it for a long time, your energy is now molded in a way that it flows inside and inwards and this permanent moulded state leads to the state of meditation.

 

Conclusion

Pratyahara is the molding of the energies which were previously flowing outside and now molded and flowing inside.The turning of the energies and the changing of direction is called Pratyahara

In this evolution, all people are moving towards liberation and whosoever takes the path to self has to undergo Pratyahara.

People who take meditation as a play and a recreational activity  have no idea about Pratyahara and that is why these people even after a long time of meditation practice cannot succeed because meditation has to go through Pratyahara, knowingly or unknowingly.

For the Pratyahara to take place, your will power to understand yourself and be close to yourself plays an important role.

We now know that Pratyahara is more of a mental phase rather than a physical phase

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About author
Sushant Pandey

Sushant is Meditation & Philosophy Teacher and Academic Director at Rishikesh Yogis. Sushant carries long years of experience teaching practical as well as philosophical aspects of Kundalini yoga, Kriya yoga, Hatha Yoga and Tantra philosophy.