PRATYAHARA 5th LIMB
“Pratyahara…the movement of the mind toward silence rather than toward things” Donna Farhi
Pratyahara leads our mind inwards, preparing it for meditation. In pratyahara, our mind is withdrawn from the senses and the sense objects, yet remaining fully aware of the inner processes. Pratyahara is the stage between externalising and internalising the mind. It is somewhere in between.
We can come to understand Pratyahara in Savasana. It’s so good to use this time to relax after a vigorous practice but there can be so much more than simple relaxation. The posture gives us the opportunity to dwell initially on the physical body and use that as the foundation point from which to delve deeper. By scanning the body we can notice sensations but not attach or react to them.
We focus the sensation of touch by observing the plane of contact between the body and the mat. We also focus on external and internal sounds but do not react. Your eyes are closed and you observe the patterns within the darkness. You are aware of temperature and allow the sensations to be present, hot or cold, but do not respond. You may be aware of sensations of pain and decide to be with them, rather than react to them.
It is at this stage that the mind can switch off completely and go into the inner state of sleep. With practice, we learn to train the involuntary systems of the brain to avoid falling asleep as the subconscious mind begins to surface. We are able to dwell in a place between being fully conscious and asleep.
It is in this state our inner most feelings, our emotions are allowed to surface. It is not unusual for this stage to be very uncomfortable as deep seated emotions rise to the surface. This is not always a response to your immediate circumstances. It can be emotions from events that happened weeks, months or even years ago. We can learn to be with these emotions without trying to escape them and in doing so allow our mind and body to heal.
This is a great way to unwind after a yoga session or at the end of a hard day.
This article was written by Allison Ray Jeraci
5 BENEFITS OF YOGA NIDRA
YOGA NIDRA: SYSTEMATIC MEDITATION
Yoga nidra, or yogic sleep as it is commonly known, is an immensely powerful meditation technique, and one of the easiest yoga practices to develop and maintain. While the practitioner rests comfortably in savasana (corpse pose), this systematic meditation takes you through the pancha maya kosha (five layers of self), leaving you with a sense of wholeness. No longer do you have to dread spending hours sitting on the floor waiting for liberation. Here are five benefits of developing a yoga nidra practice.
1. ANYONE CAN DO YOGA NIDRA
Intense vinyasa flows and long asana holds are not for everyone. Yoga nidra, however, is a practice that everyone, from children to seniors, can do. It's easy to follow at any age. All that your body needs to do is lie down on the floor. And even if you can't lie down on the floor, you can still do this practice seated.
2. YOU CANNOT PRACTICE YOGA NIDRA INCORRECTLY
As you lie down, supported in savasana, all you have to do is follow the voice that is guiding you. It's likely that you will remember certain parts of the meditation and not others. Every time you come to the practice you encounter a new experience—none of which is wrong. Falling asleep is okay too, as you will still receive benefits while the unconscious mind is absorbing the practice.
3. YOGA NIDRA IS EASY TO INCORPORATE INTO YOUR DAILY LIFE
Seated meditation can be frustrating—trying to clear the mind, bring awareness back to the breath, or find inspiration for focusing. Yoga nidra is always guided, so there is no intense thinking or wondering why you are staring at a blank wall. A yoga nidra practice can be as short as five minutes and as long as an hour. You choose the length. You may find that the easiest way to accommodate a yoga nidra practice is to make it part of your daily bedtime routine. Put the headphones on, practice right in your bed, and then drift off to sleep. Although this is not the most conventional way to practice yoga nidra, you have no excuse not to do it if you're going to be lying down anyway.
4. IT'S A SIMPLE WAY TO REDUCE STRESS
Yoga nidra promotes deep rest and relaxation that isn’t found in your average meditation practice. The stages of body scan and breath awareness alone can be practiced to calm the nervous system, leading to less stress and better health.
5. YOGA NIDRA OFFERS THE OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN ABOUT YOURSELF INTIMATELY
Some people crave the profound relaxation that this practice instills, while other practitioners use the non-judgmental and secure atmosphere that yoga nidra provides as a window into themselves. Yoga nidra offers a space to explore what you need in the moment, as well as an opportunity to work on releasing long-held emotions. During yoga nidra you are able to experience an emotion and come “face to face” with what you want to overcome, without “diving into it” completely—meaning without feeling the emotion so completely that you become overwhelmed. Over time you continue to experience the emotion and associated feelings, moving deeper into the practice.
Yoga nidra offers a space to explore what you need in the moment, as well as an opportunity to work on releasing long-held emotions.
Yoga nidra can serve as a pathway to freedom without creating bodily stress. A samskara (mental groove) is formed by a repetitive thought or habit that is deepened in the mind and body, creating a mental impression (groove) over time. These impressions can cause negative reactions and emotions which prevent a unification of the five layers (koshas) of one's self. If these negative emotions continue to plague you, the mental/emotional layer of the self is unable to integrate with the other layers: physical, energetic, higher wisdom, and bliss body. This is where yoga nidra can be especially helpful.
A samskara can be used as an intention within the yoga nidra practice. You might come into the practice knowing what you would like to work on. The intention, often prompted by the teacher, is then set at the beginning of the practice. When a samskara then arises during the practice, you may touch upon the feelings that arise, and then allow yourself to experience these feelings more and more. By working with this method (and feeling secure throughout the journey), with each subsequent practice you move deeper into a samskara, are better able to understand your reaction, and then ultimately can allow the samskara to release into the ocean of consciousness. At that point, it is no longer a deep impression. You are liberated from that samskara!
Now you know! Yoga nidra is an accessible meditation practice that focuses on cultivating multiple levels of well-being. Practiced with consistency and awareness, you may likely discover that you can find a good amount of peace in a short period of time.
Yoga Nidra practice:-