Learn how to withdraw from the distractions of the outside world and find happiness within.
The eight limbs of yoga
Almost 2,000 years ago an Indian sage, Patanjali, created the Yoga Sutras, a collection of ancient yogic texts. One of the main teachings is the Eight Limbs of Yoga (Ashtanga) which can be described as the foundation of yoga and is commonly practised today by yogis all around the world. The Eight Limbs comprises of eight steps that lead us to enlightenment. If practised regularly they can help us to live a happy and meaningful life.
Patanjali’s Eight limbs are:
1. The Yamas (restraints)
2. The Niyamas (self-disciplines)
3. Asana (yoga poses)
4. Pranayama (breathing techniques)
5. Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses)
6. Dharana (concentration)
7. Dhyana (meditation)
8. Samadhi (absorption)
In our modern lives, there is such a large focus on the external world that sometimes we forget to look within. There is a saying, which is something along the lines of, “everything we need is within us,” and although it may sound a little corny, there is so much truth to this concept. Pratyahara is the withdrawal of the senses. Practising this limb involves withdrawing energy from the senses and sending it inward. Our internal world can be just as interesting as the external world.
The senses often provide many distractions. Pratyahara is concerned with controlling how much energy that these distractions consume from us. There are so many sensory inputs that we can feel like we are pulled in many different directions. Often we fall into the trap of multitasking. Perhaps watching TV whilst online shopping, or listening to music when we are cleaning. We are sometimes so used to constantly receiving outside stimulus it is difficult to unwind and feel calm. When we practise Pratyahara, the end goal is to sit and meditate in any environment without being distracted. However, this can be difficult for many, which is why we use assistance in our yoga classes such as essential oils or music.
Practice Tip: Bhramari is a great pranayama to use that allows us to close off from the senses for a few minutes. I also love this breathing technique as it uses vibration to calm the nervous system. Placing the thumbs over the ears, index figures over the eyebrows, middle and ring fingers placed on the eyelids and the little fingers placed just above the lips. Breathe in through