Creating Inner Focus with Pratyahara

Published on January 30, 2009

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.

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One response to “Creating Inner Focus with Pratyahara”

  1. Sonyata Avatar

    This is the great paradox of the life of an individual soul. For all we know, the entire world and everything outside of us exists entirely within our own imagination. For if it were not for the five senses, we would have no perception of them. Therefore, the five sense organs (touch, taste, sound, sight, and smell) are the instruments through which we sense the world.

    Pratyahara is the fifth step of ashtanga yoga, and this is where we detach from the world outside of us and turn our focus inward. The first five limbs are the lesser, outer limbs, according to Patanjali. The next three (Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi), called Samyama, are the inner limbs.

    The quest of yoga is to come to the inner Atman, or Parushu. We can not do this unless we make the journey within our soul. We can not make that journey until we detach ourselves and let go of the things of the world, and along with it the desires within us that have arisen due to these external influences.

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Timothy Burgin Avatar
About the author
Timothy Burgin is a Kripalu & Pranakriya trained yoga instructor living and teaching in Asheville, NC. Timothy has studied and taught many styles of yoga and has completed a 500-hour Advanced Pranakriya Yoga training. Timothy has been serving as the Executive Director of since 2000. He has authored two yoga books and has written over 500 articles on the practice and philosophy of yoga. Timothy is also the creator of Japa Mala Beads and has been designing and importing mala beads since 2004.
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