Pratyahara (control of the senses) and attention / part 1

In the approach of the Yoga not is usually have very in has the Pratyahara (control of the senses) at the time of conceiving a session. So much so that even when a teacher begins to give classes, it can cost you adequately explain to students what is this fifth level or anga. Diaz writes friendly.


In the Yogasutra Patanjali speaks of Ashtanga Yoga as a way of realization that consists of eight levels or steps: yamas, niyamas, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samdhi. Such levels are usually grouped in two paragraphs: yoga external (yoga physical) and Samyama (yoga mental).

The first of these includes: yamas, niyamas, asana, pranayama, pratyahara. And the second or Samyama: dharana, dhyana and samadhi.

In Yoga, the topic of the senses)indriyas) is relatively complex, if you compare with our culture. These senses are divided into: karmendriyas, jnanendriyas and tanmatras, mainly; We might add, ekendriya.

  • Karmendriyas, the organs of action: hand (pani), body of aprenhension; foot (pada), locomotion; mouth (vak), vocals; genital (upastha), reproduction; year (payu).
  • Jnanendriyas, the senses according to the interpretation that we in the West: ear (srota), auditory sense; nose (gharana), smell: tongue (jihva), sense of taste; eyes (chakshu), sense of sight; skin (twacha), sense of touch.
  • Tanmatras, the essence of what is perceived: smell (gandha); taste (rasa); form (rupa); touch (sparsa); sound (sabda).
  • Ekendriya: the mind (sixth sense). Our culture also speaks of the sixth sense, referring to a capacity out of the ordinary, or ESP.

In the Yogasutra is makes reference to the senses in the meaning of organs, still putting more the accent in them qualities, as are these which represent the essence of them indriyas.

In the approach to Yoga is not usually take into account the Pratyahara (control of the senses), even, virtually, at the time of conceiving a session of Yoga; so much so that even when a teacher begins to give classes, it can cost you adequately explain to students what is this fifth Anga.

Also something similar happens with the senses in real life: is valued much more mind, the I or consciousness.

And, however, the senses are indispensable to the proper functioning of our life in the environment in which we live. If any of them come to us, we would have important limitations even to avail ourselves by ourselves.

The indriyas or senses could present is almost as "organs", because their nerves are specific and their cells also it are, as are destined to perceive a quality specific: the nerve olfactory them smells, the auditory them sounds, the optical it vision, etc. And, as a result, possess its own function, although with some frequency, they act jointly in the general behavior. Without them, the mind could not receive information from the physical and social environment, would considerably reduce the interaction, autonomy, and the pleasure of living, in the end.

Without even being mental, the activity of the senses is "superior" to the feel; in fact don't talk about feeling when we refer to the senses but of sensitivity (visual, auditory, etc.)

And in its operation, the senses are also related to the internal pressure of the body, both the ear as the nose or mouth; they are open to outside areas, and if we cover them, partially or totally, we vary the internal pressure and modify to some extent its operation, and even the other systems.

Between the senses and the attention, or the perception or the mind, there is a relationship direct that us about already to the Act mental-racional. The senses and attention can also act in unison, separately or offline temporarily.

In the same way that their joint activity is the most frequent response, separately occurs only in tasks that you have already automated and for a short time; and disconnected from the attention, only through technical specific yogic or hypnotic.

However, from the antique the yoga and others disciplines spiritual, even without belittling the worth of them senses, tend to consider these as instruments that us carry towards outside, that create attachments, that stimulate wishes and that enhance the I, disturbing of this way our attention for relax us, focus us, meditate or capture it reality subtle. By that is indispensable reduce its activity external to move us best in the world inside and so to get the maximum benefit possible to a great number of technical of yoga.

It is good that our practitioners know the value that has the pratyahara and how, through its installation, the rest of the mental structures is changing.

Even pedagogically might interest possess this information, because knowing this process provide us with tools that we will then use autonomously when we please.

Very few people have fallen into account that without pratyahara it is not possible to maintain a long and proper concentration, nor achieve the Super-adult, or is not possible to achieve deep relaxation or yoga nidra.

Although Perhaps the greatest contribution of the pratyahara to yoga preparation for true meditation.

To understand better the pratyahara is necessary, first of all, know your relationship with attention, innate disposition that has a limited capacity but that element serves as mediator between a stimulus (either internal or external) and the senses, between a thought and mind, an event and own I, between awareness and consciousness , between the upset internal and the psyche, between the welfare and the emotions. Is to say that attention and senses, together with the sensations and perceptions, are involved in any act of senso-perceptual, racional-mental and psychic.

This "network" that we have just described is operational and fully effective to cope in the world objective, concrete and also in the abstract world.

But for to do Yoga is that connect with other "network" or field that would call suprasensorial and suprarracional.

The door of the inner world

In this alternative network is it operates from pratyahara, from full attention, from full consciousness, from vairagya (detachment), since the deconditioning, from the Super-adult (sakashin), from the intuitive knowledge. And "operations" that occurs through this network are not subject to time or space, or to the law of cause and effect.

As well as, to access the inner world you have to produce an attention control, fixing it in some particular element; If this control of care is maintained, the disconnection of the attention with the senses, leaving these inactive temporarily will emerge almost instantly. This change is what we call pratyahara.

It may seem to the neophyte in the practice of Yoga, at first glance, an act without greater importance, but the expert knows well that this modification is that opens the door of the inner world, and that it is a qualitative leap that occurs. And, in the majority of cases, this occurs without the practitioner comes to realize.

On the other hand, perhaps have a little forgotten them senses at the time of conceive and apply a relaxation, and more even if seek that such relaxation affects directly in the mind.

Direct relaxation of the senses would, however, almost indispensable, at least in terms of the hearing and sight, since these organs are saturated with noise, ceaseless images (work before the computer, television, etc.), and by the high stimulation of taste in smokers or other exciting addicts. In the longer term, the benefits of direct relaxation of each direction serves to maintain these "organs" in good health and delay its deterioration.

We might suppose, recalling the classification of Patanjali as the pratyahara, which We have an anga, a bridge or transition between the mental and the physical yoga. Which, in part, is certain, since from the relaxation of them senses arrived to the relaxation mental and also to the reverse.

And, nevertheless, if we do a deeper analysis, as we have previously pointed out, without pratyahara no Raja Yoga, that is not there is yoga mental.

To our exhibition can be better understood, we want to endorse it with some examples practical, associating Mudras and Pratyaharas, Mudras and breathing controlled, Mudras and relaxation and, finally, Nyasas and Pratyahara.

(Will continue in a next article)

Friendly Diaz Lopez is psychologist clinical in exercise and teacher of the Association Spanish of practitioners of Yoga (AEPY) since 1983. Training of teachers, with school itself in Madrid, from 1995: Yoga Center Pantanjali.

Disciple of Eva Ruchpaul, aware of the teachings of B.K.S. Iyengar and André Van Lysebeth.

Former President of the AEPY and former President, during four years, of the Commission educational of the Association European of Yoga (UEY).

For more than twenty years, comes to exercise seriously and respect this noble discipline, linking its activity to contact the India with swami Veda Bharati. Her wide experience allows her to consider Yoga, in its therapeutic aspect, as the psychophysical method full and more advisable to remedy problems of exhaustion, stress and anxiety, without forgetting that Yoga is, first and foremost, spiritual realization.

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By • Sep 19, 2016 • section: Signatures