The Fifth Limb

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Most styles of yoga are based off of the eight limb system. The eight limbs of yoga consist of yamas, niyamas, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi. The fifth limb, pratyahara is one of the most important limbs of yoga practice. The fifth limb is preparation for meditation. The reason I find this limb to be so important is the fact that meditation takes a lot of willpower and focus. In life, there are many things to be distracted from such as cell phones, work, family, and friends. Pratyahara, the fifth limb takes the mind’s focus away from senses and objects and directs the focus inward.

This fifth limb on the eight limb yoga chain, takes the mind from externalizing everything into internalizing life itself. In order to reach a higher state of meditation, the mind must focus on what is going to be beneficial for healing thoughts. When we try to come into a meditative state of mind without internalizing ourselves into the moment, we tend to think too much about the external world. When we bring our focus inward, we then open the door to the present moment. The focus becomes aware of our internal existence within the moment. You begin to prepare yourself for a greater awakening to your own being, which then carries you into a meditative state.

I have talked to many people concerning meditation and their ability to center into the present moment. I hear the same result with many people putting effort to trying meditation. They say that their mind is overactive and they can’t seem to sit still. This is a normal reaction when trying to sit and immediately expect meditation to just happen. This is why I bring up the notion of the importance of the fifth limb. The preparation for meditation is evenly as important of the act of meditating. Pratyahara is the stage in between preparation and meditation. It is an opportunity to allow the mind to dive deeper into the inner being and further away from external distractions within the mind.

I challenge to you bring awareness to the fifth limb within your life. How many times do you find yourself wanting to jump into one thing then the next without any room for transition? When we create space for the transition period, we allow ourselves a deeper opportunity to grow from within ourselves. Every limb on the eight limb chain of yoga is equally as important as the last. When we are chasing an ultimate goal, we can bring ourselves more into the actual journey rather than the final destination. We will also find more success within the journey than the actual destination!

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