Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Bahiranga Mean?

Bahiranga is a Sanskrit term meaning “external,” “outer” or “outside.” Bahiranga yoga, therefore, refers to external yoga or the outer path. It is typically associated with the first four limbs of the Eight Limbs of Yoga, or Ashtanga yoga – yama, niyama, asana and pranayama. Sometimes the fifth limb, pratyahara, is included as well.

Bahiranga trataka is a method of meditation that involves staring at an external object, such as a candle flame or black dot. Bahiranga cetana is the concept of external consciousness.


Yogapedia Explains Bahiranga

Bahiranga yoga practices complement and lead to Antaranga yoga, or the inner path, which typically is described as the final three or four limbs, culminating in samadhi, the state of enlightenment and ecstasy.

Bahiranga yoga includes:

  • The five yamas, or personal virtues – ahimsa (non-violence), satya (truthfulness), asteya (not stealing), brahmacharya (self-discipline and self-denial) and aparigraha (non-possessiveness).
  • The five niyamas, or codes of behavior – shaucha (purity of mind and body), santosha (contentment), tapas (self-discipline), svadhyaya (self-study) and ishvara pranidhana (devotion to a higher source).
  • The asanas, or postures that Westerners most often associate with yoga practice. They strengthen and discipline the body and the mind.
  • Pranayama, or breathing exercises, rejuvenates the body and mind by sending the life force energy where needed.

Pratyahara is considered part of Bahiranga yoga by some yogis and part of Antaranga yoga 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.

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