Pratyahara and awareness (pragnya)

School of Yoga explains Reflection pratyahara consciousness and sense control

School of Yoga explains – Our identity depends on the stimulus-response cycle to reinforce existence. Consequently, if our sense of identity is isolated suddenly, we could experience extreme fear and anxiety at the loss of consciousness of identity. Hence, complete and sudden isolation of the identity is neither advisable or possible without severe psychological damage. Therefore, according to classical yoga, practice of pratyahara and withdrawal of the senses will need to be in stages through reflection and practice.

School of Yoga compares reflection and computer systems:

We can compare ourselves to a computer.

  • We are born with a certain configuration – we can be a 8, 16, 32, 64, 132 or 256 bit machine, with varying RAM or hard disk capacity. This is our DNA.
  • When we are started, our start up software can only cry – when we are hungry or uncomfortable.
  • Our operating system (OS) is loaded by our parents from age 0 to 4. This is dharma or conditioning or what will become our natural state.
  • On this OS is loaded various software’s which we will use to interact with the world. This is loaded primarily at school by our teachers, friends and family between the ages of 4 and 12.
  • We begin interaction with other machines and evolve as we load and learn to use our software programmes. Subsequently, we develop our sense of Self or asmita.
  • Slowly, as we age and increase our ability to transact with other machines, we are attached to a server. Thereafter, we begin to operate, first taking instructions and slowly progress to being a server ourselves. Obviously, our progress depends on our capability and awareness.
  • By now, we have changed, added and used a lot of programmes and applications, our contact list is huge. Also, we are networked to a wide web called society, following strict protocols of operation.
  • However, over time, we begin slowing down because, though we may have a very good configuration, we have loaded ourselves with a lot of outdated software and do not have the capability of processing the new information. Also, there is a drop in performance and though we try, we are often discarded for newer machines or relegated to less significant roles. Consequently, by this stage, many of us are also dissatisfied with the way the network is operating and are seeking new solution.

School of Yoga compares kriya-yoga, reflection and computer maintenance;

Yama – we regulate our interaction with the network;

  • We stop trying to respond to all data coming in.
  • If the situation does not require direct intervention, then we must learn to step back from involvement. 
  • Where possible, choose your battles, we learn to say NO!
  • If possible, we disconnect from as many servers as possible and stay connected only with the important ones. Free time and space for more valuable work.
  • We must update critical software regularly.
  • While interacting with our environment, we must ensure that we don’t spread malware!

NiYama – here we speed up our system capabilities;

  • We remove programmes, files and folders not in use, or have no value. We free up RAM and disk space.
  • Initially, may back up and store our files in an external disc but ultimately, we get rid of it.
  • We load new programmes, more relevant to our current state and environment
  • Our drive needs to be controlled. So, we should curb our ambitions to more sustainable levels.
  • We get out of smaller and non value adding networks. Stop watching TV.
  • Learn new and key skills regularly, this ensures that we are fresh, always

Asana – yoga for fitness and system health are related;

  • Perform defragmentation regularly.
  • Ensure segments are aligned and dead segments isolated for optimum performance.
  • Watch system temperature  and other hardware parameters for good health.

Pranayama – Keeping the system in a flow.

  • Clean virus regularly,

School of Yoga explains pratyahara and awareness (pragnya)

So, we can see that pratyahara is a classical yoga technique of isolating the Self from the surroundings and yama, niyama, asana and pranayama are preparatory actions which ensure control of the senses.

As expertise in yama and niYama increases, our need for proving ourselves to society decreases, personal ambitions abate. Slowly, as consequences of our actions become irrelevant to our sense of self-worth (asmita), anxiety and fear reduce in incidence and intensity. Practice of asana and pranayama bring increased fitness and a awareness of the body and it’s functioning.Slowly, the practitioner becomes rooted in the Self, and this is pratyahara.

School of Yoga explains the changes;


Conditioning (svadharma)

Behaviour (svabhaava)

Relationships Reduced dependence on others. Neither seeking nor rejecting
  Confident in own self-worth (asmita) Preferring own company
  • Unafraid of rejection.
  • No duality (like-dislike etc.)
  • Reduced need for praise.
  • Ability to handle praise with grace.
  Increased discrimination (vivekam) and dispassion (vairagyam) Non-judgemental
Stimulus Undisturbed by most inputs Balanced in outcome, harmonious reaction.
Food Measured food intake Not disturbed by hunger
Breathing Calm in all situations Deep equanimity
Body Capability of deep muscular relaxation Ability to reach deep homeostasis

School of yoga summarises reflection and pratyahara:

We build capability on the configuration that we inherit. Over time, we layer these capabilities with applications, programmes and upgrades. Finally, our processing capability slows down, sometimes to a point where we become ineffective. Sometimes, we rediscover ourselves by adding capability, but often we find the need to transform ourselves. Pratyahara is an exercise of eliminating these layers and learning to operate from first principles – our operating system.

Editor at School Of Yoga
School Of Yoga is a single point resource for all aspects of Classical Yoga practise. We try to achieve this by placing Yoga's traditional methodology in front of the reader and eliciting his or her experience. We value everyone's Yoga experience and would like you to share and enrich other practitioners so that everyone benefits.
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