Pratyahara is usually translated into ‘withdrawl of the senses,’ however, like many Sanskrit terms, the meaning is much deeper than what we see on the surface level.
The term is composed of two Sanskrit words, prati and ahara. ‘Ahara’ means food, or anything we take into ourselves from the outside. Prati is translated into against or away.
We are constantly being stimulated by our senses and external influences, and the idea of Pratyahara is that we gain mastery over these external influences to keep our energy directed within. With the senses being the direct relation between the internal and the external World, this is why Pratyahara is mostly defined as ‘withdrawal of the senses.’
In a state of Pratyahara, we are unaffected by the external World and strictly focused on what is happening within. A good example, is during Savasana at the end of a yoga class. In a state of Pratyahara, we are completely conscious and awake— but completely inwards. We have come so deeply into our senses and gross body that all sensations dissolve, and the only thing we are left with is the witness state.