Pratyahara – Turning inwards of the senses

The days are getting longer, the sun is finally coming out to play and the first flowers are blooming. So when the world is awakening from its long winter sleep, why do we choose to focus on the practice of “Pratyahra – Turning inwards of the senses” this month?

Especially during a time where all our senses naturally want to turn outwards again and enjoy the newness and freshness of spring, Yoga can help us to become more aware of how much we can let ourselves be carried away when we awaken to the world outside. The practice of Pratyahara teaches us to focus our attention inwards and to not get distracted by external forces that are ever-changing. We can observe the outside world, our thoughts and our breath from an internal place of steadiness.

All too often we let ourselves be distracted by what is going on around us and consciously or unconsciously we start to chase fulfilment through external things. Once we get this job, or sort out that relationship, book the next vacation, and the list goes on and on, then – we think – we will be happy or at peace. Pratyahara teaches us to let go of these attachments by starting to look for a source of peace and happiness within.

Even in our Yoga practice we can ask ourselves how attached we are to the externals. Can we practice Yoga only with a certain teacher? Do we need to have the perfect mat/outfit/studio/atmosphere/candles/music/temple to dedicate ourselves to our spiritual practice? Do we compare ourselves to the person on the mat next to us or do we secretly try to impress the teacher in front of us with what we are able to do? How much of our attention rests within us and how much of it goes to all the outside things when we step onto our mat?

Can we practice to truly turn our senses inwards?
Can we find a place of stillness within us that allows us to become aware in the present moment?
Can we experience the richness and fullness of life not just with our mind but with the fullness of our true being – our Higher Self?
Can we, through practicing Pratyahra, be still and be present?”

by Carina Hilmar

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