The Definition of Pratyahara

Pratyahara is the withdrawing of the mind and senses from the objects of the senses. It is the fifth limb, or requirement, to attain full Self-realization as outlined in the Yoga Sutras attributed to the sage Patanjali.

Paramhansa Yogananda called this “shutting off the sense telephones.” It is the final preparatory stage before deep meditation. There are various ways to remove the distraction of the senses, such as remaining still, closing the eyes, and sitting in a quiet place or using earplugs. However, Nayaswami Jyotish, spiritual successor to Swami Kriyananda, emphasizes that true pratyahara occurs in the mind, not the body. It is the internalization of the life-force (pranayama) that results in the shutting down of the senses. An example of this is when we voluntarily fall asleep. (1)

  1. How to Meditate, by Jyotish Novak. Chapter 13, “Patanjali’s Eightfold Path.”