Pratyāhāra – Turning Awareness Within

Pratyāhāra, or “withdrawal of the senses,” is a vital practice the ancient sage Patanjali—author of the Yoga Sūtra, described as the fifth limb of aṣṭāṅga—the eight limbs of Yoga.

In this course, Dr. Welch and Dr. Robert Svoboda explore the theory and practice of pratyāhāra:  it’s meaning and purpose, the awakening of awareness required to practice pratyāhāra, its relationship to the flow of prāṇa, and its relevance in our modern lives.  The listener is invited to participate in the guided visualizations, chanting, and pratyāhāra practices employed throughout the course.

While our Foundations of Āyurveda Part I and Foundations of Āyurveda Part II online courses are academic, intensive, and quite comprehensive, this course is not. It is a free-flow exploration and contemplation. Neither Dr. Svoboda nor Dr. Welch consider this course to be a systematic, comprehensive or academic introduction to Patanjali’s Yoga Sūtra or the fifth limb. However, there may be insights that even seasoned practitioners of yoga may find valuable, or that students or practitioners of Āyurveda may find helpful to support their exploration of knowledge or practice.

This roughly 9-hour course contains seven lessons, consisting of edited live, audio recordings of a weekend workshop presented by Dr. Robert Svoboda and Dr. Claudia Welch at The Ayurvedic Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico in April, 2015. There are no assignments and no homework or texts required.

 

 


IS THIS COURSE FOR ME?

This course may be a good choice for you if:

  • You have an interest in Eastern philosophy or spirituality
  • You consider yourself a seeker of truth
  • You are interested in refining your awareness of your inner terrain and experiences
  • You are a professional practitioner, instructor or student of Āyurveda, Yoga, or other Vedic sciences
  • You are interested in exploring new ways to communicate with humans and non-humans
  • You are interested in humans’ relationships with human and non-human environments
  • You suspect you may be overly-attached or identified with yourself, relations or environs such that it causes you discomfort

If you are new to the principles of Eastern philosophy and spirituality, some of the vocabulary or concepts discussed but not defined in this course may be unfamiliar. But, with the aid of the internet, these can be defined and we think it is likely they will therefore not be an insurmountable obstacle in following this material.

COURSE STRUCTURE

This audio course consists of seven lessons with a total of 9 recorded sessions, ranging in length from 49 minutes to 1 hour, 16 minutes.  (They are not downloadable). Each session includes lecture and discussion with both Dr. Welch and Dr. Svoboda, often in a lively and light-hearted exchange.

Most sessions include one or more questions from participants of the live course with in-depth responses from one or both of the instructors.  The listener may need to increase the volume when participants are speaking.

Many sessions begin or end with some chanting. The chants are mainly from the Hindu tradition. It is not necessary to be a practicing Hindu to take this course. They are chanted out of respect to the traditions of Dr. Welch’s teachers of Ayurveda. It is unnecessary to chant them and perfectly fine to skip them if you feel uncomfortable chanting or listening to them.

The listener is invited to participate in the guided visualizations and practices.  It may be beneficial to turn off the recording during the silent portion of a practice, as long periods of silence have been removed from the recordings.

Please note: Unintelligible speech and background noise have also been removed from recordings as much as possible, but these are live recordings, and therefore not studio quality.

A 20-question quiz in included, to be taken upon completion of the material.

Lesson 1 ~ Defining Pratyāhāra (58 minutes)

Learning Objectives:

  1. Define pratyāhāra
  2. Understand the role of the senses in pratyāhāra
  3. Understand the relationship between the senses and pratyāhāra
  4. List the first 4 limbs of Yoga (yamas, niyamas, āsana and prāṇāyāma)
  5. Learn the importance of “staying calm”
  6. Learn the value of supporting balance of the three mahā guṇas (sattva, rajas & tamas)

Lesson 2 ~ The Value of Turning Within (53.5 minutes)

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand subtle aspects of personal identity, its formation & dissolution
  2. Understand the value of detachment of identity to external objects
  3. Understand the value of a healthy relationship with prāṇa
  4. Understand the value of practices that create perceived stability to support the process of turning attention inward

Lesson 3 ~ Prāṇa: The Expression of Consciousness Through Matter (1 hour, 16 minutes)

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand the concept of the “co-mingling” of internal sensory experience
  2. Begin to cultivate inner vision
  3. Understand the relationship between prāṇa and the expression of consciousness through matter
  4. Chant the Hanumān Cālīsā (optional, but transcript provided)
  5. Begin to discuss the possible effects of yogic, “bandhas” on the flow of prāṇa

Lesson 4 ~ Pathways of Prāṇa (2 audio recordings; 2 hours, 13 minutes total)

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand the value & utility of “models of reality”
  2. Learn about the relationship between “vidyās,” ~ enlivened bodies of knowledge ~ and prāṇa
  3. Define “anuloma” and “pratiloma” and understand how they relate to the flow of prāṇa
  4. Learn how imagination directs and creates a pathway for prāṇa
  5. The relationship between the energetic pathways (prāṇavāhasrotas), pathways for nourishment (rasavāhasrotas) and the pathways of the mind (manovāhasrotas)
  6. Learn possible methods to enhance wholesome desires and reduce unwholesome desires

Lesson 5 ~ Prāṇic Relationships with Plants, Food, Each Other, and the Divine (2 audio recordings; 1 hour, 57 minutes total)

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand the interplay of prāṇa, tejas and ojas in pratyāhāra
  2. Understand the unique function of rasa and prāṇavāhasrotas in the organism and how it relates to the Āyurvedic principles of “bṛṃhaṇa and laṅghana” (yin & yang)
  3. Learn how our treatment of plants affects their evolution
  4. Consider the questionable value of the quest for power and the desire to “save the world”
  5. Understand the concept and experience a method for dissolving and resolving prāṇic stagnation
  6. Consider how the process of dissolving and resolving prāṇic stagnation can be applied to our daily lives
  7. Learn ways to communicate employing pratyāhāra and its effect on interpersonal relationships

Lesson 6 ~ Becoming Medicine (55 minutes)

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand the value of looking for the good (not necessarily finding it…)
  2. Understand the concept of “becoming the medicine” that we practice
  3. Learn about the effects of the “grahas” (the planets) and the value of pratyāhāra to transcend these effects

Lesson 7 ~ Communicating Reality vs. Projection: Refining the Sensory Apparatus (1 hour 10 minutes) 

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand and list the four types of vāṇi (speech) as defined by Indian philosophy: vaikharī, madhyamā, paśyanti and parā.
  2. Understand the value of rituals and practices that refine the sensory organs and experiences
  3. Participate in a partner exercise to explore the exchange of prāṇa
LEARNING OUTCOMES

By the end of this course, if you have assimilated the material, you will have an understanding of:

  • The meaning and purpose of pratyāhāra
  • The role of the five jñānendriya (sensory organs), and three mahā guṇas (sattva, rajas, tamas) in pratyāhāra
  • The definition, movement and pathways of prāṇa
  • Practices to “dissolve and resolve” obstructions to prāṇa
  • The benefits of smooth circulation of prāṇa
  • The benefits of cultivating a healthy relationship with prāṇa
  • The subtle process of assuming identities and attachments as an embodied being
  • The ways in which pratyāhāra aids in letting go of assumed identities and attachments
  • The value and utility of “models of reality”
  • The effects of pratyāhāra on personal relationships
  • The role of pratyāhāra in communication
  • Various types of possible communication
  • The external versus internal experiences of jñānendriya
  • The value of cultivating an internal sensory experience
  • The relationship between the energetic pathways (prāṇavāhasrotas), pathways for nourishment (rasavāhasrotas) and the pathways of the mind (manovāhasrotas)
  • Possible methods to enhance wholesome desires and reduce unwholesome desires
  • The interplay of prāṇa, tejas and ojas in pratyāhāra
  • Rasa (nourishing juice) and prāṇa (life force) in the organism, and their relationship to the Āyurvedic principles of “bṛṃhaṇa and laṅghana
  • How our treatment of plants affects their evolution
  • Learn about the effects of the “grahas” (the planets) and the value of pratyāhāra to transcend these effects
  • How the practice of pratyāhāra may allow us to increase our positive effects on our environment
FAQ

When can I begin the course?

Anytime.  This is a stand-alone, self-paced course.  Start, stop, begin again, any time that is convenient for you.

How long will it take me to complete the course & how long will I have access to it?

Total actual hours: 9.4; Total University hours: 11.3; Total NAMA PACE hours: 10

There are approximately 9 hours of material on the 9 recordings. However, it may take longer to complete the course. We recommend you take your time with the material, reviewing sections that are either particularly meaningful for you or that are unclear with one listening. You will have access to the course for one year from the time you register. You can extend access to it for another year for 50% off the original price, or 50$ per extra month of access.

Please see, “Course Structure” above, for the length of the individual lessons.

What if I have questions on course content? Will I have live access to Drs. Welch & Svoboda?

If you have questions about course content as you go along and would like support, there are a couple options:

What if I need technical support?

Once you are a registered student, we let you know who to contact if you need technical support with the website or course.

Can I download the lessons?

No. This is a streamable course only.

Are there any required textbooks?

No.

Is there a quiz?

Yes, there is a quiz at the end of the course. They are not tricky questions. In fact, they are decidedly un-tricky. All quiz questions cover the stated objectives listed for each section. All passing grades are 80%.

Can I have a certificate of completion?

Yes. Once you have successfully completed the course and quiz, you will have the option to print out a certificate that will include your name, the name of this course and the number of course hours. Please download, save and print out your certificate before your access to the course expires. Even if you don’t want it now, you might want it later. If you don’t download your certificate before your access to the course expires, you can request it in the future but we may no longer have access to it and, even if we do, it takes some fiddling and time to get one for and to you, so there will be a $50 administration fee for this service.

Does this course count towards educational requirements for becoming an Āyurvedic professional? Or towards NAMA PACE credits if I am already a NAMA-certified Āyurvedic professional?

For information regarding this or other questions about our courses’ relationship to NAMA  that you are unable to find on our Ayurvedic Certification & Licensure page, please contact us.

Does this course fulfill the requirements for CEUs for licensed health care practitioners that are not Ayurvedic professionals?

At this time we are not pre-approved CEU providers for health care professions other than the field of Āyurveda. However, you will have your certificate of completion, which will provide the title of the course, your name, and course hours. This may or may not be sufficient for the organization requiring your CEUs. We encourage you to contact your organization to determine what we could do to support you getting CEU credits for Dr. Welch’s programs. If there is additional documentation that you need, we’d be happy to support you with this for a nominal fee. What that nominal fee would be, depends on the documentation you would need. Please contact our office if you have any questions about this.

What is your refund policy?

We do not offer refunds for online courses. We have tried to provide clear descriptions of our courses; please review this information before purchasing.

Is there an option for financing?

US residents can use the PayPal finance option to pay, when purchasing the course. The PayPal finance option has 0 payments and 0 interest if you pay within 6 months (subject to PayPal credit approval). Beyond 6 months, there would be a 19.99 % interest rate. To choose this option, when you go through the checkout line you will reach the PayPal page where you can choose to pay via your own credit card, via your PayPal account, or via PayPal Credit. Choose PayPal credit. If you haven’t done this before, PayPal will ask some questions to check your credit before approving. Once approved, your transaction will go through and you will have access to the course without needing to pay anything for 6 months. However, to get the zero-interest rate, please remember to pay what you can at the end of the 6 months.

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