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By Swami Harshananda

Nirgarbha literally means ‘without the womb of the mantra’.

Prāṇāyāma or control of the prāṇic energy through the control of breath is an important aspect of the aṣṭāṅgayoga of Patañjali.[1] It has three steps:

  1. Puraka - infilling of air into the lungs
  2. Kumbhaka - retention of breath
  3. Recaka - exhalation

The kumbhaka has eight varieties of which the first is ‘sahita’. This is of further two types:

  1. Sagarbha
  2. Nirgarbha

When the prāṇāyāma is performed using the bījamantra[2] it is called ‘sagarbha’. If done without it, it is called ‘nirgarbha’. Kumbhaka being a part of it is also called by the same name.


  1. He lived in 200 B. C.
  2. Bījamantra literally means seed-letter prescribed for the same.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore