Withdrawal of the Senses

Image of Shanmukhi Mudra

Our next meeting of The Yoga Sutra Study Group will be on Sunday, March 28th at 11:00am. We are finishing up the second chapter of The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali with Sutras II.54 and II.55.

II.54 : Withdrawing the senses, mind, and consciousness from contact with external objects, and then drawing them inwards towards the seer, is pratyahara.

II.55 : Pratyahara results in the absolute control of the sense organs.

It was mentioned in our last meeting that it is an interesting order to find Pratyahara, sense withdrawal, after asana and pranayama practices. To some extent, both moving the body with intelligence and wisdom and manipulating the breath without disturbance require some sense withdrawal. We have to learn to use our “internal sight” and the sense of touch to know if we are aligned in body. To move the breath in different ways requires some amount of listening to our own breath and its tone, and also being able to sense the breath within the nostrils and the body itself.

But, we have to admit that even those practices of asana and pranayama create certain disturbance in the mind, a striving toward something external even if the results begin our journey inward.

The ultimate goal of yoga is to cease any fluctuations in our consciousness, to ultimately meet and understand our internal Self completely. Pratyahara is asking us to truly move our consciousness away from any external disturbance so that we are able to draw nearer to our internal experience of purusa.

In your thoughts and study of this aspect of yoga, you might ask yourself some of the following…

  1. What is your experience of “turning your senses inward”? Are you more or less sensitive since beginning your yoga practice? How?
  2. What happens when you close your eyes?
  3. What is a typical experience you may have in Savasana when trying to relax? What does your mind do?
  4. Is there a certain sense that you rely on most? How does that serve you or distract you in your practice of yoga?

Hope to see you for our next meeting! Each discussion stands alone and there is always some amount of recap from previous discussions. The meeting is FREE, but you still need to sign up to get the link to join us on Zoom.

Tagged as

Jennie Williford CIYT

Jennie Williford (CIYT Level 3) is a transplant to LaCrosse via Montana, Illinois, and originally Texas. Throughout her life moves and 5 trips to India, Jennie has acquired a well-rounded and multi-faceted approach to Iyengar Yoga since her start in 1998. Jennie loves the experimental and explorative nature of yoga in accessing deeper knowledge of the Self on every level. The practice of yoga can be intense and introspective, however as practitioners we can be light-hearted and open-minded in our discipline. Jennie is intrigued by the philosophy of yoga and hopes to share this depth of subject while teaching the physical and mental benefits that come from the practice of posture.