by Lacey Pruett | July 2, 2021 2:05 am
I shared Pratyahara with my class today and reminded myself how nice it feels to go inward for clarity. The world gets so noisy and then everything gets congested—mainly my mind space. I cannot clearly craft the solutions I need to even simple matters. From here, I just get frustrated. Pratyahara is the fifth limb of a collective yoga practice, right after pranayama, your breathwork. I believe these two limbs work in tandem to create the space needed for the work. As the class continued, I blended asana with pranayama and asked students to journey inward and away from their surrounding elements. Not an easy task! We don’t, generally, separate from our surroundings. The noise, the elements, and the stressors are all things we’ve become accustomed to in our daily lives that move so quickly, with or without awareness about the present moment. Throughout the hour class, I found myself reminding all of us to go inward often. Every ten minutes or so, I was needing the reminder, myself. “Go inward, Lacey,” I’d have to say inward and then, outward, to share with my students.
Once home, I wondered why it’s so difficult for me to go inward? To separate from the outside world is difficult for me, and I believe it’s a byproduct of me living without healthy boundaries for so long. I wasn’t raised to consider healthy boundaries. I didn’t know to consider the need for boundaries and to implement and protect them until a decade ago. Upon implementation, many areas of my life improved, but it is still a daily effort. Boundaries are the ultimate life hack. They’ll give you the space you need to protect your energy and do good work. Boundaries allow me to be more generous with my time, which allows me to do more without feeling overwhelmed.
The practice of Pratyahara begins with setting a boundary between one’s self and the outside world. Boundaries are your personal “line in the sand” with the world, and those without this line get trampled on occasion. However, placing boundaries feels odd to most of us because our society rewards boundaryless people. We are taught (and even rewarded) for doing “whatever it takes.” This transfers into yoga class, as we try to hold asana, while practicing pranayama and pratyahara, weaving in and out of frustration when we feel negativity arise. Of course, the solution to this is the exact practices to which we are already committed. As we continue on, everything becomes softer. Now, to carry this off the mat and into our daily lives. Curious if pratyahara would
benefit you? Consider if any of these apply to you:
You often feel claustrophobic.
Moving your focus inward takes practice, but like the rest of the yoga limbs, the benefits are life-changing and life-giving. The work is worth it, so start today. Close your eyes, take a deep inhale in, oxygenating your cells. Take a deeper exhale, letting go of the outside world, making space for you to listen inside of you.
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