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Antaranga Yoga

Antaranga Yoga is the last three internal or non-bodily practices of the eight-fold path of Patanjali’s Yoga. Anga in Sanskrit means a limb or an aspect or a part. The opposite of antaranga is bahiranga. In the eight fold Yoga of Patanjali, the first five are outer/body-related practices and the last three are inner, mind-related practices. Unless the outer practices, yama, niyama, asana, pranayama and pratyahara are sufficiently mastered, it is not possible to proceed with antarangas (the inner practices), namely, dharana, dhyana and samadhi.

Antaranga yoga is a process of progressively steadying and concentrating the mind on increasingly finer objects. Dharana is the first step. Here, the mind is given a gross object like a picture, an image or a symbol for concentration. While the mind is fixed on the object, it moves into various aspects or experiences of that object. But it does not go away from it. When the practice continues for a long time, out of the several aspects of that object, only one comes in mind again and again without interference from another aspect. That is the state of dhyana. In this state one is conscious of three things, namely, the object, the process of concentration, and one’s existence. With practice, consciousness of the object alone remains, and the experience of the process and one’s own existence fade away. That is the state of samadhi. It should be practiced in respect to finer and still finer objects. It purifies the intellect and brings enlightenment in the form of self-realization which liberates the person from ignorance and pain. Thus, antaranga yoga is the means of attaining the highest goal of Yoga, which is termed kaivalya.