In yoga, the term pratyahara implies withdrawal of the senses from attachment to external objects.
This is detachment from the ever-present fluctuations of life. Through this practice, we can transcend all the trials and sufferings that life often seems to throw our way and begin to see such challenges in a positive and healing light. No longer functioning in their usual manner, the senses become extraordinarily sharp. Under normal circumstances the senses become our masters rather than being our servants. The senses entice us to develop cravings for all sorts of things. In pratyahara the opposite occurs: when we have to eat we eat, but not because we have a craving for food. In pratyahara we try to put the senses in their proper place, but not cut them out of our actions entirely. In the fifth stage of Yoga, where the senses are brought under control. Pratyahara means to restrain or to withdraw. In Pratyahara the Yogi remains quite. He does not get distracted or disturbed by things which he sees, hears, smells tastes or feels. If a man's reason succumbs to the pull of his senses he is lost. On the other hand, if there is rhythmic control of breath, the senses instead of running after external objects of desire turn inwards and man is set free from their tyranny.
When this stage is reached, the seeker goes through a searching self examination. To overcome the deadly but attractive spell of sensual objects, he needs the insulation of adoration by recalling to his mind the creator who made the objects of his desire. He also needs the lamp of knowledge of his divine heritage. There is bondage when the mind craves, grieves or is unhappy over something. The mind becomes pure when all desires and fears are annihilated. The Yogi prefers the good to the pleasant. Others driven by their desires, prefer the pleasant to the good and miss the very purpose of life. The Yogi feels joy in what he is. He knows how to stop and therefore, lives in peace. The Yogi knows that the path towards satisfaction of the senses by sensual desires is broad, but that it leads to destruction and that there are many who follow it. At this stage, the consciousness of the individual is internalized in order that the sensations from the senses of taste, touch, sight, hearing and smell don't reach their respective centers in the brain. With this, the Sadhaka(person who follows yoga), or disciple, is free to meditate without distractions.At the advanced levels, the electrical currents which pulsate through the nerves and even the involuntary muscles are turned off by the practitioners. This is accomplished through Pranayama or breath-control. In pratyahara we sever this link between mind and senses, and the senses withdraw. When the senses are no longer tied to external sources, the result is restraint or pratyahara. Now that the vital forces are flowing back to the Source within, one can concentrate without being distracted by externals or the temptation to cognize externals.
Apart from Pranayama, another device that is used to aid in the development of Pratyahara is to concentrate on the point between the eyebrows. This location is known as Ajna Chakra or the third eye. Pratyahara may be practiced with mantra meditation,pranayam and visualization techniques. Pratyahara occurs almost automatically when we meditate because we are so absorbed in the object of meditation. Precisely because the mind is so focused, the senses follow it; it is not happening the other way around.