Overwork, over commitment, fast life, rejection, all those emotional attachments make us feel overwhelmed. We enjoy life when there are good things happening and if there are negative changes in life it stresses out. Most of the time our response towards stress is feeling overwhelmed. This happens without us being aware of it, unconsciously.
Is there a way we can take control of such overwhelmed feelings so that we can limit ourselves from being influenced by external factors?
Try Pratyahara! Pratyahara of yoga helps to control senses. In Sanskrit Prati means against or away and ahara means food.
Pratyahara practice helps to withdraw from senses and the world. In Patanjali’s Yoga sutra (the most ancient book of yoga), there is a description about pratyahara -means “the conscious withdrawal of energy from the senses”. It is the bridge between internal and external yoga (mind and body).
In experimental sense during practice of certain poses including for example, shavasana, body undergoes physiological relaxation. While we get into these poses we should feel comfortable and muscles should feel relaxed. Relaxation will be accompanied by steady slow breathing and body surrenders to pose while letting go of any thoughts.
Next step is sheathing the mind or mental sheath. It means, slowly one will withdraw from the world without completely losing contact with it. In this step you feel like you are in a quiet place – like in deep forest and you hear only the sounds at distant and these distant sounds are not disturbing you mentally and physically. This state where your senses can register what is happening around you but you not reacting to it is defined as pratyahara. Pratyahara does not mean that we should discard all thoughts and possessions. It means take control of your senses and don’t be slave for outside rewards.
Yoga and Ayurveda philosophy has four types of Pratyahara
- Karma Pratyahara means the control of our actions.
- Indriya Pratyahara means the control of the senses.
- Mano Pratyahara means the control of the mind.
- Prana Pratyahara means the control of the breath.
How practicing pratyahara benefits?
It helps us to achieve inner peace – As we take control of our senses, our impulsive reaction towards situations stops and our mind will feel less overwhelmed and peaceful.
By practicing Pratyahara yoga, we will be able to keep away any external matter that takes away our focus and disturbs our inner peace. By this we will be able to create positive, peaceful impression in our mind and body. While practicing yoga asanas (poses), we will focus on present and will be able to observe our senses and reactions. Energy always flows where our mind goes. By practicing Pratyahara we can focus mind inwards, control senses and thus the tension, sense of overwhelming that we feel will go away.
How to practice Pratyahara?
Start with Shavasana. Surrender yourself to mat, focus inwards and imagine you are in a quite room. Close your eyes and allow your mind to listen to different sounds around you but don’t judge or label the sounds. By practicing this your mind will naturally focus on inside while letting go of all those judgmental thoughts and overwhelming feelings! Apply this to other simple poses by focusing inwards. With practice you will eventually will be able to take control of your senses, your reactions and achieve inner peace.
Image credit: Image by Mimislifestyle from Pixabay
Author: Sumana Rao | Posted on: August 3, 2022