॥२॥ साधनपाद - 2. Sādhana Pāda - Practice



results: 51 - 55 of 55 from chapter 2

  • 2.51 : बाह्याभ्यन्तरविषयाक्षेपी चतुर्थः॥५१॥
  • 51. Bāhyābhyantara viṣayākṣepī caturthḥ.
  • The fourth type of pranayama surpasses the external and internal pranayamas, and appears effortless and non-deliberate.
  • The fourth type of pranayama goes beyond the regulation or modulation of breath flow and retention, surpassing the methodology stated in the previous sutra.  When the movement of the breath functions without one's will or effort, the fourth stage of pranayama has been accomplished. The movements of the mind ( monkey chatter ) and consciousness ceases. The flow of essential energy, intelligence and consciousness comes to a standstill except for subliminal impressions.  A state of suspension is experienced, in both the breath and the mind. From this springs forth a new awakening and the light of intelligence forcefully imbues the sadhaka's innermost being. The process of respiration has three components.  Pooraka is inspiration of air, kumbhaka means retention, and rechaka is expiration.  It can be said that kumbhaka is pranayama and pranayama is kumbhaka, not pooraka and rechaka, which are natural processes.  Kumbhaka is again of three types. Bahir kumbhaka is retention of breath at the end of expiration. Antar kumbhaka means holding the breath after inspiration of air, and kevala kumbhaka or sahaja kumbhaka implies holding the breath with no particular state of respiration in consideration. Kevala kumbhaka is one of the final stages of yoga parallel with the state of samadhi.  Bahir kumbhaka is not used very often.Kumbhaka is of two kinds, viz., Sahita and Kevala. That which is coupled with inhalation and exhalation is termed Sahita. That which is devoid of these is called Kevala (alone). When you get mastery in Sahita, then you can attempt for this Kevala. When in due course of practice, the Kumbhaka subsists in many places without exhalation and inhalation, unconditioned by place, time and number -then that Kumbhaka is called absolute and pure (Kevala Kumbhaka), the fourth form of 'Regulation of breath'.  In Vasishtha Samhita it is said: "When after giving up inhalation and exhalation, one holds his breath with ease, it is absolute Kumbhaka (Kevala)." In this Pranayama the breath is suddenly stopped without Puraka and Rechaka. The student can retain his breath as long as he likes through this Kumbhaka. He attains the state of Raja Yoga. Through Kevala Kumbhaka, the knowledge of Kundalini arises. Kundalini is aroused and the Sushumna is free from all sorts of obstacles. He attains perfection in Hatha Yoga. You can practise this Kumbhaka three times a day. He who knows Pranayama and Kevala is the real Yogi. This Kumbhaka cures diseases and promotes longevity. The physicochemical process of diffusion is dependent mostly on the extent of surface area available for the process to take place, the condition of the membrane in between, and the pressure of gases on either side of the membrane. The process of diffusion, especially of gases as occurs in respiration, is not so much dependent on the time factor. Once the pressure of gases is equalised on either side of the membrane, diffusion comes to a standstill. Hence, withholding the breath for a longer time does not afford any advantage as far as the exchange of gases is concerned. What then could be the advantages derived from kumbhaka? The rate of the heart is slowed in inspiration. With a slower rate, the resting period of the heart- the diastole- is prolonged. Not only does the heart muscle receive more rest, but the cavities of the heart are also better filled with blood. During the next pumping action of contraction (systole), more blood is pushed into circulation with a better force. Thus general circulation is improved. During kumbhaka no new air is entering the lungs, so no more oxygenation is taking place. The oxygen tension in the blood is reduced. Up to a certain level this has an advantage. The brain is most sensitive to this lowered oxygen tension, as its needs for oxygen are the greatest. If the quality of the blood is below par, the brain tries to get more blood in quantity. In the brain and even elsewhere in the body, all the capillaries are not functioning at all times. Some of them are lying dormant in a collapsed or closed state. In order to receive a greater quantity of blood, these capillaries are opened up. The effect is more marked in the brain. Thus cerebral anoxia leads to cerebral vasodilation, more capillaries open up and circulation improves. It must be emphasised that this effect is beneficial up to a certain optimum level only. Beyond this level it is distinctly harmful. Hence, it is always stressed that the practice of kumbhaka must be undertaken with the guidance of an experienced teacher. The practice of pranayama has fallen into disrepute in the eyes of the public, mainly because of the malpractice of breath retention. This explanation of cerebral anoxia, causing cerebral vasodilation, applies equally well to the practice of bahir kumbhaka.  The third phase of respiration is expiration. Expiration is a passive act. For stretching a rubber band one needs a conscious effort, while once the active action is released the rubber automatically assumes its original position. The same principle applies to the act of respiration. But the yogic act of rechaka is a slow, guided and controlled process. It should take double the time taken for inspiration. The first advantage of slow respiration is mechanical. With a sudden release the rubber or the elastic tissue in the lungs will snap back violently, but with a slow release it will maintain its elasticity. The major advantage of slow rechaka, however, is in the brain and psyche. The conscious effort required for slow release needs the help of the cerebral cortex of the brain. The cerebral cortex sends inhibitory impulses to the respiratory centre in the midbrain. These inhibitory impulses from the cortex overflow into the adjoining area of the hypothalamus concerned with emotions, and quieten this area. Hence, the soothing effect of a slow expiration.  It also helps the next stage of ashtanga yoga i.e. pratyahara. Pratyahara means drawing in of the senses and the thought processes. The human mind is like a child. If it is asked not to do a certain thing, it will deliberately try to do it. Hence it is better to give a positive suggestion to a child as well as to the human mind. Instead of asking it to stop thinking, it is given the positive suggestion of observing the respiration. Thus the senses and the thought processes are automatically switched off.  Throughout our life, we are breathing continuously, and involuntarily, day in and day out, during waking and sleeping states. The very first instruction in the teaching of pranayama is to observe this breathing process as it is going on naturally, without trying to modify it. Even this simple act has a physiological implication. Automatic respiration is controlled by the respiratory centre, situated in the midbrain. But once we become aware of the process of respiration, its control shifts to the cerebral cortex. This involvement of the cerebral cortex causes the cortex to develop. Further development of the cerebral cortex leads to a higher stage of the evolutionary cycle.In Kevala kumbhaka, (only/isolated breath retention), the breath is retained or held and is often practiced in pranayama along with the bandhas and meditation. This form of breath retention concentrates on holding the breath on a subtle breath, not on or directly after an explicit inhalation or exhalation. Kevala kumbhaka influences prana being held within the body, increasing vitality and positive energy within the self, and is an important practice in Hatha yoga.   Kevala kumbhaka does not require inhalation or exhalation and is considered the final stage of spiritual union, or samadhi. Kevala kumbhaka is not simply holding the breath between an inhale or an exhale. It is considered holding the prana completely separate of the movements of inhales or exhales, and is an unprompted stop of breath that occurs within a samadhi state attained through pranayama. Many diseases are caused by disturbances within the pranic energy system in the body and mind. Pranayama – for example, nadi shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) with antar kumbhaka – helps bring the energy system into harmony. Therefore, effective practice of a kumbhaka (like kevala kumbhaka) in conjunction with pranayama helps prevent and treat a wide variety of diseases.When the full length of the wind is all confined in the body, nothing being allowed to go out, it is Kevala Kumbhaka. There are no regular Rechaka and Puraka in this process. It is only (Kevala) Kumbhaka.  Kevala Kumbhaka  helps increase breath control and lung capacity.A pause may be very short, even only a fraction of a second (eg., quick puffs) or it may be very long. As an illustration, try holding your lungs full of air and see how long you can do so. You will find that you can retain it for several seconds and even, perhaps, for minutes. If you happen to be fatigued and if your body needs constant replenishment of oxygen, you may be unable to hold your breath very long. But when you have become rested and relaxed and when your body is already well supplied with oxygen, you may hold your breath much longer. Practitioners of yoga extend the duration of a full pause by first breathing regularly for some time until the body becomes oversupplied with oxygen and then taking an extended pause without discomfort. When you try this, please remember to quit the practice when you fell the discomfort. Advanced practitioners of yoga are said to be able to stop breathing for an hour or more without discomfort. Some of them eventually can remain almost completely motionless for days, even having themselves buried for such periods in order to demonstrate ability to survive without food, water or very much air. When buried, they do not stop breathing entirely, but their inhalations and exhalations become so long and slow and their pauses so prolonged that almost no energy is consumed and very little oxygen is needed. Even their heartbeats become so retarded that only a minimum of oxygen is needed by the heart muscles. Their cerebral activity almost ceases, so very little energy is needed to support the voracious capacity of the nervous system.  This is a semi-hibernation technique by yogis. Yogis can be trapped under avalanche snow and come out alive after several days. There are some significant ways of attaining relatively complete relaxation by use of these pauses between breathing. One cannot retain his breathing for an extended duration as long as he is nervous, anxious or fatigued. So, in pursuit of extended pauses, he will have to do what is required to attain a state of rest. When you have attained full state of rest, it will result in the reduction or elimination of nervousness. It is an extremely powerful technique to incite relaxation response. There are some traditional Yogic techniques  to prolong the pauses. These involve deliberate attempts to block breathing passages in such a way that air does not escape of its own accord when chest and abdominal muscles become relaxed. These aids are called bandha. Bandha is a Sanskrit word related to English word "bind".   Each of the bandha employed for prolonging breathing pauses binds air in our lungs or closes and locks the air channels so that no air can escape or enter. We will look at four important bandhas. The parts of the body mainly involved are the (a) lips and palate, (b) glottis, (c) chin and (d) diaphragm. The first two seem more important in prolonging full pauses and the last two more necessary for retaining empty pauses.AA. Bandha involving Lips and Palate:- This is a technique used by swimmers. Closing our lips tightly so no air can escape through the mouth. Pressing lips against the teeth may aid in tightening them. If your nostrils are clear, simply lift your soft palate against the roof of your pharynx and close the passage into the nostrils. This may be done deliberately or you may learn to allow this to happen automatically after some training. A little air pressure from your lungs may aid in holding the palate in such a closed position BB-. Bandha involving Glottis:-You can prevent air from leaving your lungs by closing your glottis. Your glottis closes automatically when you swallow. All you need to do is to stop your swallowing movements at that point where your trachea is closed. This may be difficult to do at first, since an automatic reflex pattern has been built into your autonomic nervous mechanisms. But a little effort at trying to attain voluntary control over your involuntary processes should give you mastery of this technique. Of course, you may combine both the lips and the palate closure with the glottis closure to produce a still tighter lock. CC- Jalandhara Bandha (Bandha involving Chin):-
    The jalandhara bandha or "chin lock" consists in pressing the chin close to the chest and dropping the head to help in maintaining immobility of muscle and air movements. This position is very useful in holding an empty pause, for the pressure of the chin against the chest pushes the base of the tongue and the larynx up into the pharynx and against the palate, thus providing aid in resisting the pressure caused by the vacuum in the lungs. DD- Uddiyana Bandha (Bandha Involving Diaphragm)- A fourth bandha, uddiyana bandha, involves raising the diaphragm and keeping it immobile during an empty pause. The abdomen must be drawn in and up as far as possible. Expel all air before using this bandha. In order to attain complete control and more comfort, one may put forth some effort in one or more mock inhalations, without admitting any air, before assuming fullest relaxation possible during this pause. You may combine both chin lock and raised diaphragm techniques in retaining an empty pause. Both of these techniques can be employed in either a standing or sitting position and they are commonly employed together during sitting postures. These two bandhas appear to serve as strenuous and circulation-stimulating exercises rather than muscle- and will quieting attitudes, though they do aid a person in attaining thorough mastery over his respiration cycle. The problem of prolonging the duration of a pause should be approached with caution, patience and practice. Gradually lengthen the duration of a pause by counting. Use your fingers to count the duration of a pause. After each successive pause, add one unit of pause to the rest. If you try to attain a prolonged pause on the first attempt, you are very likely to overdo it, suffer some discomfort and feel no beneficial or restful effects. Whenever a series of increasingly extended pauses reaches the point where you feel the need to exert effort in order to hold the pause longer, stop immediately. By repeating such a series once a day for several days-or even several times a day for several days-you can observe a gradual increase in the length of the pauses which may be held with comfort. The progress you make is mainly an individual matter. Some persons can do this much easier than others.Kevala kumbhaka (perfectly peaceful pause) involves not only complete cessation of movement of air and muscles but also of all awareness of such movement and tendencies. The state experienced is one of complete rest. Urgency, interest, motive, will, desire, etc. all disappear momentarily along with the disappearance of specific interests and anxieties, such as those of hatred, fear, ambition, love, hunger and thirst. You will also feel detached from tendencies such as to hate specific tasks, to fear particular persons, to demand specific rights or to zealously force oneself or others to attain indicated goals. During such a peaceful pause, quiescence is experienced as perfect. For anyone writhing under the pressures of multiple anxieties, the experience of the utter peacefulness of kevala kumbhaka even for a moment, provides a very restful and blissful moment.  The experiences of kevala kumbhaka helps in retarding progressive over-anxiety that is common in our society. Suicides and suicidal tendencies, which result from the development of unbearable anxieties, may be retarded and prevented by sufficiently assiduous practice of yoga. The automatic mechanisms which spontaneously induce inhaling and exhaling, as well as heartbeats and hunger and thirst, can be modified and inhibited for short periods.Pranayama is of three kinds according to the strength and capacity of the practitioner. The best one is that wherein Puraka is for 20 seconds (Matra is the Sanskrit word for second. 1 Matra is equal to 1 second.), Kumbhaka for 80 seconds and Rechaka for 40 seconds. The middling one is that wherein Puraka is for 16 seconds, Kumbhaka for 64 seconds and Rechaka for 32 seconds. The lowest one is that wherein Puraka is for 12 seconds, Kumbhaka for 48 seconds and Rechaka for 24 seconds. You should inhale and exhale very, very slowly, without producing any sound all the while. The ratio between Puraka, Kumbhaka and Rechaka is 1:4:2.. To perform Pranayama, as you inhale, first push out your abdomen, then expand your chest and as you exhale, first pull in your abdomen to help empty the base of your lungs, then allow your chest to collapse.  This is known as diaphragmatic breathing, because as you inhale your diaphragm contracts and pushes down into the abdomen. Pushing your abdominal wall out makes room for this to happen. During exhalation, "pulling in" your abdominal wall facilitates the diaphragm rising up. With diaphragmatic breathing the amount of air entering your lungs increases significantly. This allows more oxygen to enter your bloodstream. Shallow chest breathing allows approximately 350 ml of air to enter the lungs, compared to the 4500ml that can enter the lungs when you breathe diaphragmatically. Training yourself to consistently breathe deeply while using your diaphragm will ensure that more air enters your lungs. Another breathing technique is a type of relaxing sigh. This is deep diaphragmatic breathing . Sit in a chair and let out a long sigh of relief, then let air into your lungs naturally. Repeat eight to twelve times.Breathing is a unique physiological function as it is both voluntary and automatic. By modifying one’s breathing, taking slower, deeper breaths one has the ability to help control the nervous system. Ultimately, breathing slowly can induce a state of relaxation, focus, and calmness.When we breathe only using the chest, our breathing becomes rapid and shallow. This kind of chest breathing doesn’t fully expand the lungs and leaves static air in parts of the lungs. Expanding only parts of the lungs increases the likelihood of poor blood circulation, which impairs the functioning of the organs and can lead to infection or other health problems. Deep breathing stimulates and allows your lymph system to work better and thus, avoid circulatory problems. Pumped from the heart, blood circulates oxygen to the arteries and capillaries. Cells in our bodies take oxygen for their health and excrete toxins. Cells depend on the lymphatic as the only way to expel toxins.How you breathe directly affects your cardiovascular system. Daily practice of deep, diaphragmatic breathing on a daily basis has been shown to have a positive effect on essential hypertension (high blood pressure of unknown cause). Other problems such as headaches and migraines, which can be caused by a lack of oxygen, will also benefit from deep breathing. Although breathing from your diaphragm is easy to do, the habit of doing it must be consciously cultivated before it can become automatic.



    ༺ ࿘ ॐ ࿗ ༻



  • 2.52 : ततः क्षीयते प्रकाशावरणम्॥५२॥
  • 52. Tatḥ kṣīyate prakāśāvaraṇam.
  • Pranayama removes the veil covering the light of knowledge and heralds the dawn of wisdom.
  • Its practice eliminates illusion, comprising ignorance, desire and delusion, which overcloud the intelligence; and permits the inner light of wisdom to shine. As the breeze diffuses the clouds that blanket the sun, pranayama blows away the clouds that screen the light of the intelligence. In the Yoga Chudamani Upanisad, it stated that there is no discipline higher than pranayama. It is named as an enlivened knowledge (mahavidya), a royal road to well being, freedom and rapture. Advanced pranayama is done after much practice.  It’s mastership does not come easy.  The result of it, is clear to a yogi because the dark mind space is cleared off and a brilliant light is perceived.  This light is illuminating (prakasa).  The regular practice of pranayama reduces the obstacles that inhibit clear perception.

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  • 2.53 : धारणासु च योग्यता मनसः॥५३॥
  • 53. Dhāraṇāsu ca yogyatā manasḥ.
  • The mind also becomes fit for concentration.
  • Pranayama is not only an instrument to balance the mind, but also the gateway to concentration - dharana.  Once the new light of knowledge has dawned through the practice of pranayama, the mind is fit and knowledgeable to move on towards the realisation of the soul. The allusion here is clear that the sadhaka who had to struggle initially to cultivate a yogic way of life by self-discipline and study, now finds his efforts transformed into a natural fervour to progress in his sadhana. The covering to the light of the Chitta is  attenuated.  Thus the mind becomes fit for concentration.  Dharana practice requires a preliminary mastership in certain aspects of prana energy control.  This is why when someone sits to meditate without first doing pranayama , he cannot be successful even though he may imagine for himself in peace happiness and light.  Dharaṇa means single minded focus. The prior limb Pratyahara involves withdrawing the senses from external phenomena. Dhāraṇā builds further upon this by refining it further to ekagrata or ekagra chitta, that is single-pointed concentration and focus. Samatha is done by practicing single-pointed meditation, through mindfulness of breathing. All other operations of the mind are suspended or stopped. According to the Hatha Yogic school, a Yogi who can suspend his breath by Kumbhaka for 20 minutes can have a very good Dharana. He will have tranquillity of mind. Pranayama steadies the mind, removes the Vikshepa and increases the power of concentration. Fixing the mind on something is Dharana or concentration of mind. Dharana can be done only if you are free from the distractions of mind. The Vrittis that arise from the mind obscure your native state. They are like clouds that screen the sun. During the time of concentration, the seer identifies himself with his own native state. At other times of concentration, the seer identifies with his Vrittis. This is a great distraction of the mind. When all the Vrittis are controlled and when the mind is one-pointed, it is transparent like a crystal. The mind loses itself in the object concentrated upon. The mind acquires the power of appearing in the shape of whatever is presented to it, be it the knower, the knowable or the knowledge. Just as the crystal becomes coloured by the colour of the object placed before it and then shines according to the form of the object, so also this mind is coloured by the colour of the object presented to it, and then appears in the form of the object. Vedantins try to fix their mind on Atman, the Inner Self. This is their Dharana. When Hatha Yogins concentrate their mind on Shat Chakras or the six centres of spiritual energy, they concentrate their mind on the respective presiding Devatas and Tattvas. Bhaktas concentrate their mind on their Ishta Devata. Dharana is an important stage for any kind of Sadhana. When the mind is intensely fond of anything, there will be no perception of pain even if destruction awaits the body. You find lovers committing suicide together all over the world. There are five Yoga Bhumikas or stages or five states of mind, viz., (1) Kshipta (wandering); (2) Mudha (forgetful); (3) Vikshipta (gathering mind); (4) Ekagrata (one- pointed); (5) Nirudha (controlled or well-restrained). In Kshipta state the rays of the mind are scattered. It is always wandering. In Mudha state, the man does not know anything. He is quite dull. He will harm others. In Vikshipta state, the mind is centered for a short time only; but wanders about for a long time. In Ekagrata state, it is one-pointed and concentrated. You can enter into Samadhi with the help of this mind. In Nirudha state, all the Vrittis are controlled. This is the state of Vritti-sunya. But Samskaras which are the seeds for Vrittis are here. No Yoga is possible in the first three states of mind. Yoga is possible in the fourth and fifth states only. Purify the mind first through the practice of Yama and Niyama. Then take to the practice of Dharana. Concentration without purity is of no use. Ethical perfection is of paramount importance. A man whose mind is filled with passion and all sorts of fantastic desires can hardly concentrate on any object even for a second. His mind will be jumping like a monkey. There can be no concentration without something upon which the mind may rest. The mind can be fixed easily on a pleasing object such as a ishta devata or a fresh fragrant flower. It is very difficult in the beginning to fix the mind on any object which it dislikes such as a lump of stinking shit, a cobra or a bleeding body. Practise concentration till the mind is well- established on the object of concentration. When the mind runs away from the object of concentration bring it back again to the object. It is very difficult to practise concentration when one is very thirsty or when one is suffering from an acute disease. One has to make the mind fit for yoga practice (yogyata manasah).  The mind will prevent the attention from linking to a higher concentration force or person if the mind itself is not surcharged with a higher grade of pranic energy.  It will be unable to make a higher linkage, except now and again, by a fluke, haphazardly.  For consistent practice one must do the asana with pranayama daily before meditation practice.  Dharaṇa is the sixth stage, step or limb of eight elucidated by Patanjali's Ashtanga Yoga.

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  • 2.54 : स्वविषयासंप्रयोगे चित्तस्य स्वरूपानुकार इवेन्द्रियाणां प्रत्याहारः॥५४॥
  • 54. Svaviṣayāsaṁprayoge cittasvarūpānukāra ivendriyāṇām pratyāhārḥ.
  • Withdrawing the senses, mind and consciousness from contact with external objects, and then drawing them inwards towards the seer, is pratyahara.
  • Now the mind is able to concentrate and the senses no longer pester the mind for their satiation. They lose interest in the tastes and flavours of their respective objects, and are drawn back from the external world in order to help the mind in its inner quest. This is pratyahara. This is the basis of the path to renunciation. As a bird cannot fly if one of its wings is cut off, so is it in the case of the sadhaka. The two wings of yoga are practice, from yama to pranayama, and renunciation, from pratyahara to samadhi. Both are necessary for flights. Then the yogi dwells in his soul, perceiving all things directly, without the intrusion of citta - the conscious faculty. In ordinary everyday life, consciousness helps the senses see the objects of the world with thoughts of acquisition, rejection and resignation. They become hypnotised by them, and are drawn outwards, towards pleasure. In pratyahara, the senses are directed inwards, towards the realisation of the soul. Pratyahara is the withdrawal of the mind from its contact with the senses of perception and organs of action; then its direction is towards the soul. The relationship between the mind and the senses is justly compared to that of bees following the queen bee. If the queen bee moves, the others follow. When she rests, the others rest. They do not function independently from their queen. Similarly, when the mind stops, the senses, too, stop working. This is pratyahara. It is the beginning of man's return journey towards his Maker. It is the science of restricting the senses by depriving them of that that feeds them - the external objective world. It liberates them, by denying the supply of nourishment in the form of desires and their fulfilments. Nature consists of five gross elements : earth, water, fire, air and ether with their five subtle counterparts : smell, taste, shape, touch and sound. These interact with the three gunas - saliva, rajas and tamas. Citta, comprising ego, intelligence and mind is the individual counterpart of mahat, cosmic intelligence. This cosmic intelligence is the unevolved primary germ of nature, or the productive principle, for creation of all phenomena of the material world. There are also the five senses of perception - ears, nose, tongue, eyes and skin - and five organs of action - legs, arms, speech and the organs of generation and excretion. The five senses of perception come in contact with sound, smell, taste, sight and touch, send their impressions to the mind and are stored in the memory. Memory craves for further experiences and propels the mind to evade intelligence and tap the senses for yet more sense gratification. This in turn motivates the mind to seek further experiences through the organs of action. All through this process, intelligence measures advantages and disadvantages in order to counteract memory, mind and senses which, recollecting the taste of past pleasures, are passionate for more. Almost inescapably, intelligence stays disregarded. Through over-stimulation and misuse, the organs of action lose their power and are no longer capable of stimulating the organs of perception or the mind. Owing to the force of past impressions, one continues to ache after renewed sensation. But one can never be satiated. This spawns unhappiness and dissatisfaction. Here lies the true role of pratyahara, the fifth aspect of yoga. When the senses withdraw themselves from the objects and imitate, as it were, the nature of the mind-stuff, this is pratyahara. Withdrawing the senses, mind and consciousness from contact with external objects, and then drawing them inwards towards the seer, is pratyahara. When the mind is withdrawn from sense-objects, the sense-organs also withdraw themselves from their respective objects and thus are said to imitate the mind.  The restraint of senses occurs when the mind is able to remain in its chosen direction and the senses disregard the different objects around them and faithfully follow the direction of the mind. When the mental organs of senses and actions (indriyas) cease to be engaged with the corresponding objects in their mental realm, and assimilate or turn back into the mind-field from which they arose, this is called pratyahara, and is the fifth step.  Pratyahara means literally “control of ahara,” or “gaining mastery over external influences.” It is compared to a turtle withdrawing its limbs into its shell — the turtle's shell is the mind and the senses are the limbs. The term is usually translated as “withdrawal from the senses,” At the stage of pratyahara, the consciousness of the individual is internalized in order that the sensations from the senses of taste, touch, sight, hearing and smell don't reach their respective centers in the brain and takes the sadhaka (practitioner) to next stages of Yoga, namely Dharana (concentration) and Dhyana (meditation), and Samadhi (mystical absorption), being the aim of all Yogic practices. Indriya pratyahara involves withdrawal of senses, or sensory inputs into our physical being, coming from our five senses, namely organs creating a sensory overload, and hence hinders collection of the mind, as in Dharana, the next stage of Yoga. Most of us suffer from sensory overload, the result of constant bombardment from television, radio, computers, newspapers, magazines, books etc. . Our commercial society functions by stimulating our interest through the senses. We are constantly confronted with bright colors, loud noises and dramatic brain washing sensations. We have been raised on every sort of sensory indulgence; it is the main form of entertainment in our society. The problem is that the senses, like untrained children, have their own will, which is largely instinctual in nature. They tell the mind what to do. If we don’t discipline them, they dominate us with their endless demands. We are so accustomed to ongoing sensory activity that we don’t know how to keep our minds quiet; we have become hostages of the world of the senses and its allurements. We run after what is appealing to the senses and forget the higher goals of life.  Pratyahara is an important limb of yoga for people today. The old saying "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak" applies to those of us who have not learned how to properly control our senses. Indriya-pratyahara gives us the tools to strengthen the spirit and reduce its dependency on the body. Such control is not suppression (which causes eventual revolt), but proper coordination and motivation. Prana pratyahara- control of our senses requires mastery over the flow of prana, as that is what drives the senses.  Unless our prana is strong we will not have the power to control the senses. If our prana is scattered or disturbed, our senses will also be scattered and disturbed. Pranayama is a preparation for pratyahara. Prana is gathered in pranayama and withdrawn in pratyahara. Yogic texts describe methods of withdrawing prana from different parts of the body, starting with the toes and ending wherever we wish to fix our attention — the top of the head, the third eye, the tip of nose, heart or one of the other chakras. To stop the scattering of valuable vital energy of the body or prana, we need to seek control over its flow, and harmonize it. This is done through various practices including bringing the entire focus to a single point in the body. These two lead to the subsequent two types of pratyahara, the Control of Action or 'Karma pratyahara', which entails not just control of motor organs, but also right action or work, and Karma Yoga, surrender of every action to the divine and performing it as an act of service. We cannot control the sense organs without also controlling the motor organs. In fact the motor organs involve us directly in the external world. The impulses coming in through the senses get expressed through the motor organs and this drives us to further sensory involvement. Because desire is endless, happiness consists not in getting what we want, but in no longer needing anything from the external world.  Just as the right intake of impressions gives control of the sense organs, right work and right action gives control of the motor organs. This involves karma yoga — performing selfless service and making our life a sacred ritual. Karma-pratyahara can be performed by surrendering any thought of personal rewards for what we do, doing everything as service to God or to humanity. The Bhagavad Gita says, "Your duty is to act, not to seek a reward for what you do." This is one kind of pratyahara. It also includes the practice of austerities that lead to control of the motor organs. For example, asana can be used to control the hands and feet, control which is needed when we sit quietly for extended periods of time. This leads to the final form of pratyahara - the Withdrawal of Mind or 'Mano pratyahara', which is practiced by consciously withdrawing attention from anything that is unwholesome, and distracting for the mind such as by withdrawing attention from the senses, and directing it inwards . We take in sensory impressions only where we place our mind’s attention. In a way we are always practicing pratyahara. The mind’s attention is limited and we give attention to one sensory impression by withdrawing the mind from other impressions. Wherever we place our attention, we naturally overlook other things.

    We control our senses by withdrawing our mind’s attention from them. According to this  Yoga Sutra: "When the senses do not conform with their own objects but imitate the nature of the mind, that is pratyahara." More specifically, it is mano-pratyahara — withdrawing the senses from their objects and directing them inward to the nature of the mind, which is formless. The mind is like the queen bee and the senses are the worker bees. Wherever the queen bee goes, all the other bees must follow. Thus mano-pratyahara is less about controlling the senses than about controlling the mind, for when the mind is controlled, the senses are automatically controlled. We can practice mano-pratyahara by consciously withdrawing our attention from unwholesome impressions whenever they arise. This is the highest form of pratyahara and the most difficult; if we have not gained proficiency in controlling the senses, motor organs, and pranas, it is unlikely to work. Like wild animals, prana and the senses can easily overcome a weak mind, so it is usually better to start first with more practical methods of pratyahara. Pratyahara is related to all the limbs of yoga. All of the other limbs — from asana to samadhi — contain aspects of pratyahara. For example, in the sitting poses, which are the most important aspect of asana, both the sensory and motor organs are controlled. Pranayama contains an element of pratyahara as we draw our attention inward through the breath. Yama and niyama contain various principles and practices, like non-violence and contentment, that help us control the senses. In other words, pratyahara provides the foundation for the higher practices of yoga and is the basis for meditation. It follows pranayama (or control of prana) and, by linking prana with the mind, takes it out of the sphere of the body. Pratyahara is also linked with dharana. In pratyahara we withdraw our attention from ordinary distractions. In dharana we consciously focus that attention on a particular object, such as a mantra. Pratyahara is the negative and dharana the positive aspect of the same basic function. Many of us find that even after years of meditation practice we have not achieved all that we expected. Trying to practice meditation without some degree of pratyahara is like trying to gather water in a leaky vessel. No matter how much water we bring in, it flows out at the same rate. The senses are like holes in the vessel of the mind. Unless they are sealed, the mind cannot hold the nectar of truth. Anyone whose periods of meditation alternate with periods of sensory indulgence is in need of pratyahara. Pratyahara offers many methods of preparing the mind for meditation. It also helps us avoid environmental disturbances that are the source of psychological pain. Pratyahara is a marvelous tool for taking control of our lives and opening up to our inner being. It is no wonder some great yogis have called it "the most important limb of yoga." We should all remember to include it in our practice. One of the most common practices for Pratyahara is Pranayama, wherein we automatically withdraw from the external and bring our focus inwards towards our breath, as connection with the external senses and stimuli are all severed gradually. At the advanced levels, the currents which pulsate through the nerves and even the involuntary muscles are turned off by the practitioner. This may also be accomplished through Pranayama or breath-control. Pratyahara or abstraction is that by which the senses do not associate with their own objects and imitate, as it were, the nature of the mind-stuff (Chitta). The senses are assimilated in the mind which is rendered pure through the practice of Yama, Niyama and Pranayama. The mind becomes more calm now. The nature of the Indriyas is to have always connection with the objects. Where the vision is turned outward (Bahirmukha Vritti), the rush of fleeting events engages the mind. The outgoing energies of the mind begin to play. When they are obstructed by the practice of Pratyahara, the other course for them is to mix with the mind and to be absorbed in the mind. The mind will not assume any form of any object. Hitherto, the Indriyas were following the mind like the other bees which follow the queen bee.

    Pratyahara itself is termed as Yoga, as it is the most important Anga in Yoga Sadhana. This is the fifth rung in the Yogic ladder. The first four rungs deal with ethical training and purification of body, mind and Nadis. Now with Pratyahara, proper Yoga begins which eventually culminates in Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. Hence in Kathopanishad also in Part VI, Sloka 11, you will find: That firm control of the senses, they regard as Yoga. Again in the same Upanishad it is stated in Part IV, Sloka 1: The Self-existent created the senses outgoing, therefore, one sees outside and not the Atman within. Some intelligent man, with his senses turned away from their object, desirous of immortality, sees the Atman within. From the practice of Pratyahara, comes the supreme mastery over the senses.


    Worldly persons enjoy with Raga and Dvesha.The Yogi, will not become a slave of the Vishayas, as he is a maaster out of his own free will. The Indriyas cannot grasp the objects even though they are placed before them. This is Indriya Jaya. There is a difference between control and supreme control. By controlling one Indriya alone, the other four will not come under your control. When the mind is rendered pure and one-pointed and when it is turned inwards towards the Purusha, then and then alone supreme control of all organs follows. He who has practised Pratyahara can have good concentration and meditation. His mind is always peaceful. This demands patience and constant practice. It takes some years before one is well-established in Pratyahara. He who has mastery over Pratyahara will never complain of Vikshepa or distraction of mind. He can sit in a place in a busy city where four roads meet and meditate whenever he likes. He does not want a cave for meditation. Just as the tortoise draws in on all sides its limbs, so also, the Yogi withdraws all his senses from the objects of sense through the practice of Pratyahara. Pratyahara gives power to the practitioner. When the Indriyas are withdrawn from the objects, then you can fix the mind on a particular point. Pratyahara and Dharana are interdependent. You cannot practise one without the other.

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  • 2.55 : ततः परमा वश्यतेन्द्रियाणाम्॥५५॥
  • 55. Tatḥ paramā vaśyatendriyāṇām.
  • Pratyahara results in the absolute control of the sense organs.
  • The effect of pratyahara is felt when the senses are mastered, and the mind is mature and fervent for its spiritual quest.    When the senses have ceased to pursue after pleasures obtained from the phenomenal world, they can be yoked to serve the soul. Sadhana pada instructs the sadhaka how to study his own weaknesses in every domain - moral, physical, physiological and intellectual - and how to eradicate them, since they are not contributory to yogic discipline and spiritual emancipation.

    Yama germinates the art of living in society honestly; niyama, that of cleansing one's impurities. Asana eradicates physical and mental disturbances, and pranayama maintains harmony and prevents dissipation of the flow of vital energy, making the mind a fit instrument for meditation. Pratyahara sublimates both senses and mind. Pratyahara  practice when mastered, gives the student yogin, the qualification to practice higher yoga, which are mainly actions on the mystic plane. Mastery of the senses comes about by learning to withdraw them. Through that turning inward of the organs of senses and actions (indriyas) also comes a supreme ability, controllability, or mastery over those senses inclining to go outward towards their objects. Since five senses create sensory overload, Indriya Pratyahara thwarts the collection in the mind.  The Indriyas (senses) have two states, static and dynamic. When the desire begins to operate, the Indriyas are put in motion. This is the dynamic state. As soon as the desire is gratified, the Indriyas shrink through Tripti (satisfaction). This is the static or passive state.  Indriya is a prolongation of the mind. The sea is fed by the rivers; the sea cannot exist without the rivers. Even so, mind is fed by Indriyas and cannot exist without Indriyas. If you have controlled the Indriyas, you have already controlled the mind.  Mind is a consolidated Indriya. Indriya is mind in manifestation. Just as a minister obeys the king, so also, the five Jnana-Indriyas act in accordance with the dictates of the mind. Indriyas represent backwaters. The desire in the mind to eat has manifested as tongue, teeth and stomach. The desire in the mind to walk has manifested itself as legs and feet. The desire to keep away from sex ( withhold semen )  can be achieved by the mind. There is no need to sleep under the same blanker with two naked underage girls like Gandhi or  give enemas to them. If you can control mind, you can control the Indriyas. Eyes can only see. Ears can only hear. Tongue can only taste. Skin can only touch. Nose can only smell. But, the mind can see, hear, taste, touch and smell. Mind is the common sensory. The five senses are blended there. It can directly see, hear, smell, taste and feel independent of the senses. It is an aggregate of the five senses.  Mind is termed the sixth sense: "Manah shashthanindri-yani-the senses of which mind is the sixth" (Gita, XV-7). The five senses are the five Jnana-Indriyas (organs of knowledge, sensation or perception). Ayatana means mind (Chhandogya Upanishad, IV-vii) which is the substratum of the experiences of all other organs. Senses cannot do anything, if the mind is not connected with them. The eyes may be wide open during sleep. They do not see anything, because the mind is not there.  There are six ways of controlling the Indriyas: (i) through Vichara, (ii) by will-force, (iii) by Kumbhaka (retention of breath in Pranayama), (iv) by Dama (restraint), (v) by Pratyahara (abstention) and (vi) by Vairagya and Tyaga. Perfect control can be made only through Vichara.   Tapas thins out the Indriyas and eventually leads to control of mind. When the Indriyas are withdrawn from their respective objects, it is Indriya-Pratyahara. Mental abstraction takes place when the mind is disconnected with the Indriyas. Pratyahara is a general, broad term which includes Dama also. The effect of Dama (restraint of Indriyas) is Pratyahara. Pratyahara is the stepping-stone to inner spiritual life. He who has succeeded in Pratyahara can concentrate his mind quite readily for a very long time. Dharana and Dhyana come automatically if Pratyahara is perfect. An aspirant has to struggle hard to have mastery over Pratyahara. Perfect Vairagya is indispensable for success in Pratyahara. You can succeed after strenuous and incessant struggle for some years. If Pratyahara is perfect, all the organs are under perfect control.  If you have the reins of the horses under your control, you can have a safe journey. The Indriyas are the horses. If you have the senses under your efficient control, you can have a safe journey in the path of Moksha. Indriyas cannot do anything without the help of the mind, their master and commander. Control of the Indriyas means control of the mind only. Control of thoughts leads to the control of mind and Indriyas also. It leads to the attainment of infinite bliss and eternal life. Control of thought is indispensable.   In the advanced stages, the electrical currents, which pulsate through the nerves and even the reflex muscles, are turned off by the practitioners. This may be achieved through Pranayama.  Thus ends the external quest (bahirahga sadhana). Now the sadhaka crosses the threshold of the internal quest (antarahga sadhana) of yoga.   Here ends the exposition on sadhana, the second pada of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras.




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