Pratyahara; (Taking the senses inward)
Pratyahara is the the 5th limb of 8 limbs of Ashtanga Yoga, which is explained in Patanjali Yoga Sutras. Lord Krishna also mentions Ashtanga Yoga in Bhagvad Gita but gives no explanation, and neither does Arjuna asks about it, suggesting that Ashtanga Yoga was well known and practiced then, over 5000 years ago.
Pratyahara is an essential practice on the path of yoga. The outer world is very diverse and attractive, and so the mind keeps going to the outer again and again. But a yogi reminds himself of the transitory and temporary nature of the world, and takes the mind inward again and again. The more the mind stays inward, the less the yogi gets affected by the outer.
“It is in the nature of the things to arise, change, and finish. Knowing this, the wise without getting disturbed, remains still and finds peace within himself easily.” Ashtavakra Gita 11-1. ❤
Shanmukhi Mudra means closing of the 6 gates (2 ears, 2 eyes, nose, and mouth). It is a symbolic way of saying that for next few minutes you are not interested in the outer, and you want to take your awareness and senses inward.
How to practice
Sit up straight but relaxed.
Place the little fingers below lips, ring fingers above lips, middle fingers at the nostrils, index fingers on the eyes, and thumbs at the openings of the ears.
With middle fingers softly resting on the nostrils (without closing them partially), breathe deeply and with each breath take the awareness more and more inward with this feeling that you are not interested in anything outer.
After each inhalation you may hold the breath in , and gently close both nostrils with middle fingers. Hold it for few seconds but without any struggle, and then exhale smoothly.
On exhalations you can also make a long high-pitch sound like a bee, hoom…….
In the beginning, practice this for 8-10 breaths, and gradually increase it to 5-8 minutes.
Helps in keeping mind inward
Soothes nerves in the face and forehead area.
Stimulates the energy centre between eye brows.
Enhances inner peace and calmness.
A nice reminder to not speak ill of anyone, and not letting your mind get disturbed by any negativity you may see or hear. ❤