A Gateway to the Inner Journey
Withdrawing From the Senses
Pratyahara involves controlling the five senses. And ultimately withdrawing from the five senses.
Being that withdrawing from the five senses means withdrawing from all external stimuli that our five senses perceive, it means exploring and following the inner quest of the mind.
Without that external stimuli, the mind is free to focus on that inner journey, undisturbed.
There is a distinct progress in the 8 limbs of Yoga, and the previous third and fourth limbs, Asana and Pranayama, are the gateways to Pratyahara. Both Asana and Pranayama prepare the mind/body by achieving calmness, serenity, and peaceful resolve, readying mind/body for the internal limbs of Yoga.
A Good Practice
Pratyahara is good practice for overcoming addictions of the senses, as withdrawing from the senses causes us to study our sensory addictions from an outer point-of-view. We can see them as they are, merely addictions, and focus on correcting them.
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. —from ExpressionsOfSpirit.com
Mastery of Pratyahara means mastery of the senses. Instead of being a slave to our senses with cravings, addictions and physical and emotional dependencies, we become the master of our senses, and they become sharp tools that are better appreciated and grateful to have.