Pratyahara is the bridge between the inner and innermost quest. In the first 3 limbs (yama, niyama, and asana) the practitioner begins with the external quest – the firmness of the body. The movement from asana to pranayama to pratyahara touches the inner quest – the steadiness of intelligence. The last 3 limbs (dharana, dyhana, and samadhi) comprise the innermost quest – the benevolence of the spirit.
Pratyahara translates as “the withdrawal of the senses”. If the normal use of our senses is directed outward, then the cultivation of pratyahara develops the ability to be in the present moment and attune to the inner experience.
In asana, we find the edges of awareness in the physical body; pranayamadraws us inward to the organic and energetic subtleties of the pose; pratyaharareaches further inward to a quiet expression of the authentic self.