Lo + visto/ Pratyahara y la atención, 1ª parte

In the approach of Yoga, Pratyahara (control of the senses) is not usually taken into account when conceiving a session. So much so that even when a teacher starts teaching, it may be difficult for them to adequately explain to their students what this fifth level or anga consists of. Write Amable Diaz.


In the Yogastra Patañjali is spoken of Ashtanga Yoga as a way of realization that consists of eight levels or steps: yamas, niyamas, asana, pr.n.y.m., pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samdhi. These levels are usually grouped into two sections: external yoga (physical yoga) and Samyama (mental yoga).

The first of these comprises: yamas, niyamas, asana, pr.n.y.m., pratyahara. And the second or Samyama: dharana, dhyana and samadhi.

In Yoga, the theme of the senses (indriyas) is relatively complex, compared to our culture. These senses are divided into: karmendriyas, jñanendriyas and tanmatras, mainly; we could add, ekendriya.

  • Karmendriyas, organs of action: Hand (pani), the apprehension organ; foot (pada), locomotion; mouth (vak), voice; genitalia (upastha), reproduction; anus (payu).
  • Jñanendriyas, the senses according to the interpretation we give them in the West: Ear (srota), auditory sense; nose (gharana), smell: tongue (jihva), sense of taste; eyes (chakshu), sense of sight; skin (twacha), a sense of touch.
  • Tanmatras, the essences of what is perceived: Smell( gandha); flavor (rasa); form (rupa); touch (sparsa); sound (saturday).
  • Ekendriya: (sixth sense). In our culture we also talk about the sixth sense, referring to an unusual, or extrasensory capacity.

In the Yogastra the senses in the sense of organs are referred to, even more with an emphasis on qualities, for these are the essence of the indriyas.

In the approach of Yoga, it is often not very taken into account the Pratyahara (control of the senses), not even, practically, when conceiving a Yoga session; so much so that even when a teacher starts teaching, it may be difficult to adequately explain to his students what this fifth Anga.

There is also something similar about the senses in real life: the mind, the self or consciousness is valued much more.

And yet the senses are indispensable for the proper development of our lives in the environment in which we live. If any of them were to miss us, we would have significant limitations even to fend for ourselves.

The indriyas o senses could present themselves almost as "organs", because their nerves are specific and so are their cells, since they are intended to perceive a specific quality: the olfactory nerve odors, the auditory sounds, the optician vision, etc. And, consequently, they have their own function, although, at some frequency, they act together in general behavior. Without them, the mind could not receive information from the physical and social environment, it would considerably reduce the interaction, autonomy and pleasure of living, in short.

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

And in its functioning, the senses are also related to the internal pressure of the organism, both the ear and the smell or mouth; are areas open to the outside and, if we cover them, partially or completely, we vary the internal pressure and modify to some degree their operation, and even that of other systems.

Between the senses and attention, or perception or mind, there is a direct relationship that already brings us closer to the mental-rational act. Senses and attention can also act in unais, separately or temporarily disconnected.

Just as their joint activity is the most frequent response, separately it occurs only in tasks that we already have automated and for a short time; disconnected from attention, only through specific yogic or hypnotic techniques.

However, since ancient times yoga and other spiritual disciplines, even without belittling the worth of the senses, often consider these as instruments that take us outward, that create attachments, that stimulate desires and that enhance the self, thus disturbing our attention to relax, concentrate, meditate or capture subtle reality. That is why it is essential to reduce its external activity in order to move better in the inner world so that we can make the most of a large number of yoga techniques.

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

Even pedagogically it might be interesting to possess this information, because knowing this process we have tools that we will then use autonomously when we want.

Very few people will have realized that without pratyahara it is not possible to maintain a prolonged and correct concentration, nor to achieve the consciousness-witness, nor is it possible to achieve deep relaxation or yoga nidra.

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

To better understand pratyahara it is necessary, above all, to know its relationship with attention, an innate disposition that has a limited capacity but serves as a mediating element between a stimulus (whether internal or external) and the senses, between a thought and the mind, between an event and one's own self, between realizing and consciousness , between internal and psyche discomfort, between well-being and emotions. In other words, attention and senses, together with sensations and perceptions, participate in every sensible-perceptive, rational-mental and psychic act.

This "network" we have just described is operational and fully effective in developing in the target world, concrete and also in the abstract world.

But to be able to do Yoga you have to connect with another "network" or area that we would call suprasensory and suprarational.

The door of the inner world

In this alternative network is operated from the pratyahara, from the full attention, from full consciousness, from vairagya (detachment), from de conditioning, from consciousness-witness (sakashin), from intuitive knowledge. And the "operations" that occur through this network are not contingent on time or space, nor to the law of cause and effect.

So, to access the inner world has to be a control of attention, looking at some specific element; if this control of attention is maintained, the disconnection of attention with the senses will arise almost instantly, leaving these temporarily inactive. This change is what we call pratyahara.

To the neophyte in the practice of Yoga it may seem, at first glance, an act of not greater importance, but the expert knows well that this modification is the one that opens the door of the inner world, and that it is a qualitative leap that is the one that is the one that is the one that is the one that is the one that is the one that is the one that is the one that is the one that is the one that is the one that is the one that is the one that is the one that is the one that is the one that is the one that is the one that is the one that is the one that is the one that is the one that is the one that is the one that is the one that is the one that is the one that is the one that is the one that is the one that is And, in most cases, this occurs without the practitioner coming to notice.

On the other hand, we may have a little forgotten the senses when it comes to conceiving and applying a relaxation, and even more so if we seek that such relaxation directly affects the mind.

The direct relaxation of the senses would, however, be almost indispensable, at least in terms of hearing and sight, since these organs are saturated with noise, incessant images (work before the computer, television, etc.), and by the high stimulation of taste in smokers or addicted to other exciting ones. In the longer term, the benefits of direct relaxation of each sense serves to keep these "organs" in good health and delay their deterioration.

We might assume, recalling Patanjali's classification as to pratyahara, which we are facing an anga, as a bridge or transition, between physical and mental yoga. Which, in part, is true, since from the relaxation of the senses we come to mental relaxation and also the other way around.

And yet, if we do a deeper analysis, as we have noted above, without pratyahara there is no Raja-Yoga, i.e. there is no mental yoga.

In order for our exhibition to be better understood, we want to endorse it with some practical examples, associating M'dras and Pratyaharas, M'dras and Controlled Breathing, Médras and relaxation and, finally, Nyasas and Pratyahara.

(Puedes leer ya la continuación de este artículo Aquí)

Friendly Diaz Lopez she is a clinical psychologist in practice and a teacher of the Spanish Association of Yoga Practices (AEPY) since 1983. Teacher trainer, with its own school in Madrid, since 1995: Pantanjali Yoga Center.

A disciple of Eva Ruchpaul, knowledgeable of the teachings of B.K.S. Iyengar and André Van Lysebeth.

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

For more than twenty years, he has been exercising with seriousness and respect this noble discipline, linking his activity to contact with India and Swami Veda Bharati. His extensive experience allows him to consider Yoga, in its therapeutic aspect, as the most complete and advisable psychophysical method to remedy problems of exhaustion, stress and anxiety, without forgetting that Yoga is, above all, spiritual realization.

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By • 23 Aug, 2019 • Sección: Most-watched