svavishaya-asamprayoge chittasya svarupanukara-iv-endriyanam pratyaharah ||54||
स्वविषयासंप्रयोगे चित्तस्य स्वरूपानुकारैवेन्द्रियाणां प्रत्याहारः ॥५४॥
svaviṣaya-asaṁprayoge cittasya svarūpānukāra-iv-endriyāṇāṁ pratyāhāraḥ ॥54॥
Harmony with the emotions (pratyahara) is achieved when the senses cease to be engaged with external objects and thus that which is mutable in human beings (chitta) becomes similar to true nature. ||54||
sva = (icc.) their own
viṣaya = (iic.) object; thing
a = not
saṁprayoge = to come into contact with; to unite; to become one
cittasya = (g. sg. m./g. sg. n. from citta) all that is mutable in humankind; mind
sva = (iic.) their own
rūpa = (iic.) form
svarūpa = (iic.) own form; own nature
anukāra = (nom. sg. f.) to imitate; to resemble; to appropriate
eva = (prep.) like; as though; as it were
indriyāṇām = (g. pl. m./g. pl. n. from indriya) via the senses; via the sense organs
pratyāhāraḥ = (nom. sg. m. from pratyāhāra) withdrawal of the senses; bringing inward; literally: fast with the senses; harmony with the emotions; harmony with the emotional body
Pratyāhāra literally means “to fast,” referring not to food intake, however, but to the senses as a whole. Inasmuch as for yogis, the senses are closely related to the emotions, pratyāhāra is the logical step after prāṇāyāma. Achieving harmony with your emotions is somewhat more difficult than achieving harmony with your body or energy. Even if you have gotten a handle on your body and your energy, your emotions may still remain volatile. In other words, the ability to stand on one’s head does not necessarily translate into emotional balance. Hence emotional harmony is far more difficult to obtain than physical harmony.
This next step of pratyāhāra is likewise harmoniously integrated into āsana-vinyāsa practice of aṣṭāṅga yoga. Pratyāhāra begins with seeing (ḍr̥ṣti), as this is the sense that we are most readily able to control. In time, you will learn to fold all of your senses into your practice of yoga, and in this way will gain access to your emotions. And this in turn will lead to emotional harmony.
Here too, for particularly dedicated yogī[s] there are a few other (mainly sitting) techniques that can be realized in addition to āsana-vinyāsa practice.