Pratyahara – the fifth yogic limb

Pratyahara is the fifth limb in Patanjali’s yoga and it means the withdrawal of the senses. It is seen as an inner quest and a form of internalising by ‘freeing the  senses from the thraldom of the objects of desire’ (Light on Yoga, BKS Iyengar) with the purpose of quietening the mind so much that it is able to perform intense, unbroken concentration. Without these “distractions” of the senses, the mind has the ability to reach the next limb and continue on the yogic path. Continue reading

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Pranayama – fourth yogic limb

After consuming yourself with the yamas and niyamas and asana, the next limb

is pranayama.  It translates as prana = life force and ayama = extension or expansion.

Pranayama is the controlled breathing practices undertaken in yoga. Prana (life force/vital energy) is controlled, fuelled and enriched through the breath. These practices help activate and cultivate prana throughout the physical body and other pranamaya kosha.

There are four aspects of prana – inhalation, exhalation, inhalation retention and exhalation retention. According to the sutras, kumbhaka (retention) is the focus and the aspiration of controlling our breath. Continue reading