Pratyahara (Sanskrit ‘prati’ – away, against + ‘ahara’ – ingest) is the fifth limb concerned with sensory withdrawal.
Pranayama is designed to pave the way for pratyahara, to allow a path to inward sense discovery. Pratyahara is the conscious effort to retreat from external stimuli and to begin using the sensory abilities internally. Effectively, this is to stop the senses from becoming dependent on these external stimulants, which can be detrimental to both the mind and the body.
Pratyahara is designed to withdraw the mind and body from anything that may be considered harmful. This could be food, associations, objects or cravings. The aim is to allow the mind to move more freely, unburdened by these stimulants.