Definition - What does Antaranga mean?

Antaranga is a Sanskrit term meaning “internal,” “inner” or “inside.” Antaranga yoga, therefore, refers to the inner path. It is typically associated with the last three limbs of the Eight Limbs of Yoga, or Ashtanga yoga – dharana, dhyana and samadhi. These yogic practices together are referred to as antaranga sadhana (spiritual practice or spiritual discipline). Sometimes, pratyahara, the fifth limb, is included as well. In contrast, the first four limbs are called Bahiranga yoga and include asanas and pranayama.

Antaranga cetana is the concept of internal consciousness, which the yogi experiences during meditation. In this state, there are no thoughts or external sensory perceptions.

Yogapedia explains Antaranga

Antaranga sadhana cannot be observed from the outside, but, instead, is undertaken within and beyond the mind. Their impact is also internal rather than external, as they work directly on transforming the mind, moving it toward liberation and salvation.

Pratyahara is considered a bahiranga ("external") sadhana by some yogis and an antaranga sadhana by others. It is the transition between the external and inner practices. Pratyahara is the transcending or withdrawal of the senses. In this practice, the yogi observes the external world objectively to enhance his/her inner growth.

The three other antaranga yoga practices are:

  • Dharana (concentration) involves removing the distractions of the mind by concentrating on a single focus, which can be one of the chakras, an image, a deity, a silent bija mantra or an object.
  • Dhyana (meditation) is a state of mind similar to dharana, but dhyana is a deep meditative-like state in which the mind has been quieted, but is aware without producing thoughts. In dhyana, the yogi is free from distractions.
  • Samadhi (unity) is the experience of transcending the self and obtaining unity with the true inner self. In a state of samadhi, the yogi experiences no separation between the individual and universal Consciousness. It is a state of absolute bliss and is the ultimate goal of yoga.

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