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Our senses – they are our link to the world outside of ourselves. They guide us, and they distract us. They lead us to what we like, and turn us from what we don’t. They keep us alive, and can also do quite the opposite.

We continue our journey through the eight limbs of yoga with Pratyāhāra, the fifth limb. Pratyāhāra is the withdrawal or movement away from the senses. This can happen naturally through the gathering of one’s attention, or through practices such as bhramari breathing, bee’s breath, or shanmukhi mudra, placing one’s fingertips to seal off the senses of hearing, sight, smell, and taste.

Pratyāhāra doesn’t mean that we stop using our senses, rather it directs our awareness to how we take in information from the outer world, a process most of us engage in mindlessly. When we gain the ability to observe, to unplug, to turn away, we strengthen discernment, and become more selective and skillful as to what we allow into our bodies and minds.

In December, can you bring awareness to how much your senses guide you during your day? Notice what you take in through your senses and follow the thread into your thought process and any actions you might take as a consequence. And once a day, pull away from as many senses as you can for even just a few minutes. Stop making sense!

Check out the nourishing workshops we’ve planned for you this month and over the holidays to keep your lights bright during this darkest month.

Have a beautiful December!

Posted by: Anne Phyfe Palmer, 8 Limbs Founder & Director of Education & Programming

Neighborhood Studios