The word ‘pratyahara’ stems from the Sanskrit prati and ahara. Prati means “against or away,” and ahara is anything we take into ourselves from external sources. Pratyahara basically means withdrawing yourself. Now I don’t mean you need to become a hermit, it’s just means that you should take some time to be with yourself with no external influences such as your phone, TV, other people etc.
This is the binding of the consciousness to a single point, this isnt meditation (not yet) it is simply immersing yourself deeply into one activity, concentrating solely on what you are doing. You could argue that this is almost mindfulness which has become extremely popular over the past couple of year. However Dharana is much deeper, you connect with the activity you are doing fully only then can you move on to the next limb.
Now this is meditation. The word dhyana comes from the Sanskrit word dhyai, which means “to think of.” All the other limbs of yoga up to this point have prepared you for meditation or Dhyana, this is the point where you focus on something in order to learn the truth about it, even perhaps yourself.
The final limb and my favourite meaning Samadhi literally means ‘bliss’.This is union with the universe, with the ultimate energy, with God (or whatever you want to believe in). Once you have been through the other 7 limbs you are prepared to connect with the divine, whatever form that comes in for you.
The 8 limbs can be related to all parts of your life, through April I will be discussing how! If you would like to keep up to date with my blogs then join my newsletter, sign up on the homepage.