13 Dec Antaranga-The Internal Aspect of the 8-Fold Path of Yoga
In our previous blog, we had an in-depth understanding of the Bahiranga or the External aspect of Yoga. Today, we will look at Antaranga or the Internal aspect of Yoga.
Antaranga Yoga encompasses Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi. While some debate to include the fifth limb, Pratyahara as a part of Antaranga, others say it belongs to Bahiranga as it starts with the external.
We can consider Pratyahara to be the bridge that connects the external to the internal. By the time you reach this stage, you are in a position to withdraw your senses and move inwards. Hence, Pratyahara has both the external and internal aspects of the 8-fold path of yoga within it.
You can watch the video in which Hansaji gives simple examples to explain the concept of Pratyahara.
We now move to the first step of the Antaranga, Dharana, which means Concentration. At this point, one is free from all external distractions. The idea of Dharana is to improve concentration and reduce the number of thoughts.
For instance, if you take a candle as your object of focus, you point all your thoughts and energy to the candle. External distractions and varied internal thoughts are reduced when you focus on the objects in front of you.
All your thoughts and energy are surrounding the object. When practiced over prolonged intervals of time, one moves to the next phase which is Dhyana, achieving higher level of concentration.
Dhyana is a way of achieving focus, here one slowly learns to focus without any aid of external object. As the person is able to move inwards with the object they started with, the thoughts become fewer than before. One is completely submerged within himself and can stay that way for longer durations. Regular practice of Dhyana helps one move to Samadhi, which is the ultimate blissful state of staying focused and is the last step of the Yogic path.
This brings us to the end of the 8-fold path of Yoga. When we dedicate ourselves to taking one step at a time and making it a part of our daily life, we can be assured of reaching the final step. One should never try to skip or practice only selected steps as this will not only deter the progress but will also make it seem impossible to achieve.
So, start with the Yamas and Niyamas then move to the Asanas and Pranayama Techniques, this will help build the foundation for crossing the bridge of Pratyahara and the Antaranga will be achieved with time. Watch all the videos under the 8-fold path of yoga.