The Yoga Tutor

The Fruits of Pratyahara

[ Excerpt from The Science of Yoga, page 481 ]

~ Yoga Sutras, “Ch. 2,” (V. 55)
Translation - Then follows the greatest mastery over the senses.

A yogi is one who is no longer controlled by the senses -- rather he/she has mastered the senses. The yogi is at ease in any external situation and has ceased to be affected by the pairs of opposites, be it hot or cold, pain or pleasure, hunger or satiation, etc. Ultimately, the measure of success in pratyahara is the ability to maintain a certain type of sthiti prajna (equal-mindedness) in relation to one’s interaction with the external stimuli of the world, as well as in relation with one’s own physical and biological states.

Thus, with sense control (pratyahara) we consciously endeavour to only allow the mind to take the forms that we want it to -- those which exist within the inner Self. In other words, we control our senses and are no longer controlled by them. This is attained through the successful practice of pratyahara.

Returning briefly to the first four angas of Patanjali’s yoga, we can now see this step-by-step system in a clear light. Each of the initial four stages is designed to help the sadhak to eliminate a certain character of disturbance to the mind. In very general terms, the yamas and niyamas address the emotional disturbances; asana rids the physical body of its troubles; and pranayama removes the disturbances which are caused by the irregular flow of the vital forces within the pranic sheath.

After attaining success in these preliminary measures, the sadhak is then ready for pratyahara, the removal of the disturbances which arise via the sense-organs, thus completing the bahiranga yoga-s, and becoming capable of treading the higher stages of antaranga (inner) yoga.


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