Pratyahara is the pivotal point in the practice of yoga where the path leads from the exterior to the interior landscape of the body. Pratyahara translates directly as “sense withdrawal” and is the fifth limb or branch of an eight-staged yogic approach to the unification of body-mind-spirit.
By withdrawing our attention from the external environment and by focusing inwards on the breath and sensations, we still the mind and increase our awareness of the body. With this awareness and focus we can move deeper into the practice of yoga, learning to move through our limitations, fears and expectations. The key to practicing pratyahara is observing the body, breath and sensations as a detached witness, as if you were watching and feeling someone else’s body. Used with compassion and discipline, pratyahara enriches the practice of yoga and leads to deeper stages of concentration and meditation.