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Pratyahara (The fifth limb of yoga), as I interpret it, is the bridge of conscious change. On one side of our lives we have our senses (which connect us to the external world), and our mind (which works with all the data we receive), and on the other side, we have our inner-life, governed by our souls. If we do not cross this bridge, we cannot truly understand our souls and therefore our true essence (love, peace, strength, wisdom, and bliss – and the source of these things, the Spirit or God), nor can we reap the benefits of being so intricate with these great individual powers.

First you must leave a place to go somewhere else. Pratyahara is sense-withdrawal and preliminary interiorisation. Thus it is the beginnings of the inner-journey to the soul. Pratyahara is leaving the consciousness of the outside world, and beginning to focus within. It is not meditation, nor is it tremendously deep concentration; it is the switching off of life currents (e.g. those found in the senses and muscles) which under normal circumstances are projected outwards.

In relaxation, one is challenged to switch off consciousness of the outside world and lay the body to rest on the ground. Thus the eyes are closed, the smell and taste nerves are not in direct contact with food or other essences. The sense of touch is widely disengaged by the upturning of the palms, and a slight spreading of the limbs etc. In fact the only sense that switches on and off for short periods in some cases is the sense of hearing, when listening to guided relaxation, or music to relax to, but even those guides and accompaniments are sub-consciously drowned out eventually by the thunderous silence of ones’ own inner peace.

So, I feel that relaxation and pratyahara are linked. One is the theory of interiorisation, and one is the practical application of this philosophy.