Pratyahara is derived from two Sanskrit words: prati and ahara, with ahara meaning food, or anything taken into ourselves, and prati, a preposition meaning away or against. Together they mean “weaning away from ahara”, or simply ingestion. In the system of yoga, pratyahara is a pivot point from the external to the internal. Pratyahara is the fifth of the 8-limbed system of yoga. It is the withdrawal of senses if you will from the physical world, from action, movement, and external stimulus and a deliberate turn towards focusing on our internal lives and stillness. In our imaginations, one can conjure up images of a monk retreating into the mountains of Tibet to meditate for seven years, no? In our fast-paced, hectic modern lives, this limb is often out of balance. In our current reality, however, it is a concept that has been thrust upon us whether we choose to be conscious of it or not.
Here, if we are willing to listen, is our call to action. It is not to slide under the covers and hide or spend 12 hours a day in meditation. The call is to refocus our lives and find a balance between our internal and external worlds. There is great beauty and opportunity to pause and look for the helpers as Mr. Rogers taught us. To see that in times of great challenge that most people are good and decent. Here also lies the opportunity to quietly sit with all that arises in ourselves. As uncomfortable as it is, acknowledge the fear and anxiety of the unknown. But with keen observation, what you will also witness in that within your new physically distant life is your deeper strength and conviction to rise to the occasion. . . read on