Pratyahara | Yoga and Withdrawal of the Senses

Published: Dec 28, 2021 | Updated: Mar 19, 2022
Written by: Marce Ferreira

Pratyahara | Yoga and Withdrawal of the Senses

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Pratyahara, or Withdrawal of the Senses, is the fifth step i.e. technique in classical Ashtanga Yoga (Sutras of Patanjali). This step (or limb) in Patanjali’s system is considered necessary to be able to carry out the next stage of Yoga, which is called Dharana i.e. single-pointed focus or concentration.

The Pratyahara practice is aimed at taking away attention and awareness form the multitude of external objects. The Yogi’s attention is “drawn within,” or being “internalized,” (for instance, by concentration on one’s breath only) trying to avoid that the impressions of the five senses (touch, taste, sight, hearing and smell) come into conscious awareness.

In relation to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Pratyahara is seen as “the bridge” between the external aspects of Yoga (Yama, Niyama, Asana, and Pranayama) and its internal aspects (Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi).

Usually, Pratyahara will be done sitting, typically in a seated Yoga Asana suited for meditation, in a calm and isolated location which has as little as possible sensory distraction. This location could be a quiet room, a cave, a temple, a forest, a mountain top, or whatever place that is tranquil and devoid of much disturbance.

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