Abhyantara

Last Updated: May 30, 2017

Definition - What does Abhyantara mean?

Abhyantara is a Sanskrit word meaning “internal.” It is the opposite of bahya (“external”).

This term is most often associated with pranayama, or yogic breathing exercises. In pranayama, abhyantara kumbhaka is the pause after an inhalation. It is a deliberate secession of breathing that leaves the body motionless. The purpose is to help bring the body's energy system into harmony. Abhyantara vritti is a type of pranayama in which the breath is held for as long as possible after an inhalation that uses maximum lung capacity.

Yogapedia explains Abhyantara

Pranayama is one of the Patanjali's eight "limbs" of yoga as described in the Yoga Sutras. Abhyantara kumbhaka is one of the four stages of pranayama, which are, in order:

  1. Puraka – a single smooth inhalation.
  2. Abhyantara kumbhaka – the mindful holding of the breath after inhalation.
  3. Rechaka – a single smooth exhalation.
  4. Bahya kumbhaka – the mindful holding of the breath after exhalation.

Each stage of pranayama is believed to enhance both physical awareness and introspection. It is also thought to be therapeutic for respiratory problems, particularly asthma, and to increase vitality and energy.

Abhyantara is also a term associated with saucha, one of the niyamas that refers to cleanliness of mind and body. Internal cleanliness (abhyantara saucha) is a purification of the mind and spirit that is one of the steps on the yogic path to enlightenment.

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