Tuesday, August 22, 2006


From Yoga Journal: 'Pratyahara, the fifth limb, means withdrawal or sensory transcendence. It is during this stage that we make the conscious effort to draw our awareness away from the external world and outside stimuli. Keenly aware of, yet cultivating a detachment from, our senses, we direct our attention internally. The practice of pratyahara provides us with an opportunity to step back and take a look at ourselves. This withdrawal allows us to objectively observe our cravings: habits that are perhaps detrimental to our health and which likely interfere with our inner growth.'
__In my Vinyasa workshop class on Monday, we did the whole class blindfolded or (for the forgetful that didn't bring a blindfold or scarf) eyes closed. This proved to be less difficult than you'd think. The only pose that was really difficult was tree pose - standing on one leg. I don't know if it was the particular sequence of poses, the mild evening air afterward, or the actual Pratyahara practice, but I felt even better than usual afterward. I felt energetic yet calm, balanced, happy - in short, just very happy to be alive as I went about my business afterward. Thinking back to other classes, I have a tendency to either close my eyes or not focus on anything in particular when I'm in a good groove.
__This avoidance of distraction is part of yoga, meditation and other wellness disciplines, and was a good exercise. In pop culture lately, this has been called being 'in the zone' and applies to all aspects of life, sports included. Of course commercialized and simplified it becomes something different, but it's the common aspect of using physical activity to draw attention inward that links yoga and cycling for me. So whether it's holding a good Triangle Pose or drilling it in a breakaway, it's all about focusing inward and avoiding distraction.