Pratyahara – Withdrawal of the Senses

“svavisaya asamprayoge cittasya svarupanukarah iva indriyanam pratyaharah”

Withdrawing the senses, mind and consciousness from contact with external objects, and then drawing them inwards towards the seer, is Pratyahara.

Patanjali Yoga Sutra 11.54

The practice is not about running away away from stimulation, which is basically impossible anyway. Rather, practising Pratyahara is about remaining in the middle of of stimulating environment and consciously not reacting to it. A state of non reaction. The actual registering of input by the nervous system still occurs but there is virtually no interaction with that input. You are in the world but not of it.

“The conscious withdrawal of energy from the senses. The relationship between the mind and the senses is aptly compared to that of of bees following the queen bee. If the queen bee moves, the others follow. When she rests, the others rest. They do not function independently of their queen. Similarly, when the mind stops, the senses, too, stop functioning. This is Pratyahara” BKS Iyengar

You can incorporate the practice of Pratyahara into your practice. This occurs when you HOLD a pose. As you remain still, thoughts arise about staying or coming up, thoughts of judgement as to whether you are doing the pose well or not so well. At these times you can choose to withdraw your energy from your thoughts and focus instead on the pose itself.