Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Niralamba Mean?

Niralamba is a Sanskrit term that means "independent," "self-supported," "unsupported" or "alone." It is derived from the root words, nira, meaning “without” or “free from,” and lamba, meaning “a prop” or “support.” Niralamba is used to describe more challenging versions of yoga poses that are unsupported.

The term is also used to describe a higher form of samadhi, or enlightenment, in which the mind no longer supports itself and so becomes one with the higher self. This niralamba samadhi is sometimes used as a synonym for nirbija samadhi, or "samadhi without a seed of desire."

A third use of the term refers to the “Niralamba Upanishad,” an ancient Hindu text that is notable for stating that all living beings and deities are the same ultimate reality as Brahman.


Yogapedia Explains Niralamba

Niralamba yoga poses require better balance than their supported versions and should only be attempted after the standard pose is mastered. Some common niralamba poses include:

  • Niralamba sarvangasana 1 and 2 (unsupported shoulder stand) – in which the arms rest on the ground alongside the ears (version 1) or are held alongside the legs with the fingertips pointing to the sky (version 2).
  • Niralamba bhujangasana (unsupported cobra pose) – in which the fingers are interlaced behind the back.
  • Niralamba sirsasana (unsupported headstand) – in which all of the weight balances on the head and the arms are used only to assist in balancing, but bear no weight. A typical arm position would be reaching forward with the fingertips lightly touching the ground.

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