Pratyahara – The 5th Branch of Yoga

Posted by admin on 24 Feb 07

“I am not in the world, the world is in me”

Most of us are more familiar with the third or fourth branches of yoga, namely Asana and Pranayama respectively. Pratyahara, the fifth branch, is perhaps a little less familiar.

Pratyahara refers to sensory withdrawal. This means taking time to withdraw our senses from the world in order to hear our inner voice more clearly.

Pratyahara is the process of temporarily withdrawing the senses of the outer world so as to recognize the sensations of your inner world. It is also described as sensory fasting and comes from 2 words:
– Prati: Away
– Ahara: Food

If you stay away from food for a while, your next meal will most likely taste delicious!

Likewise, take time to withdraw from the world for a little while. You will find that your experience will be more vibrant thereafter. Within our awareness are the seeds of sound, sight, taste, scent and sensation. By going inside ourselves, we can experience these impulses more fully.

Pay attention to the sensory impulses you encounter during the day (especially those which nourish your body, mind and soul). Tune in to the subtler sounds, scents and sights you experience.

Pratyahara Flower Illustration

When you look at a flower, you imagine that you are seeing the flower outside of you. But you are actually experiencing it within you. In scientific terms, your eyes receive frequencies of electromagnetic radiation that trigger chemical reactions at the back of your eyes.

The ancient scriptures suggest that the entire cosmos is situated within the human body, therefore the source of happiness lies within each individual. By withdrawing our senses from external simulation, we are able to connect with this inner well of contentment, rather than relying on outward sensory stimulus as the source of our joy and contentment.

Archived in the category: Yoga & Spirituality

One comment for “Pratyahara – The 5th Branch of Yoga”


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June 2nd, 2008 at 1:37 am

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