Yoga is more than a series of techniques, in Asanas as in Pranayama or Meditation. It is a holistic science and a vast pond of knowledge that can be understood by experience and dedicated Sadhana.
Yoga Nidra, as one of the practices of the mind, has become popular and is seen as a technique also. But in the traditional path of Yoga and you take care of the mind as a whole and not divided into different techniques. So, the practice of relaxation, breathing, meditation, components of Yoga Nidra, etc., are not isolated but parts of the whole.
Yoga Nidra is a state where you produce delta brain waves and remain conscious. Usually, you only produce it during deep sleep, in a coma or while dying. With practice, we can go into that state by will and by awareness.
Yoga Nidra – a deity and its Mantra
These days Yoga Nidra is often referred to when the preparatory techniques and relaxation sequences are applied. But Yoga Nidra is a vast topic and not only a few sets of practices. The Kriyas of Yoga sleep are small steps into a world of light and function as a shortcut to liberation. In the philosophy of Yoga Nidra, it is seen as a deity itself. There are even hymns to Yoga Nidra, which should increase the moon’s power, the passive, creative force, in us. Mantra 5 and 6 of Mandukya Upanishads explain the philosophy of Yoga Nidra and the philosophy of sleep. These Mantras enhance the coolness and the silvery light of the lunar energy and help us to go deeper into the layers of the mind. It´s used by the feminine deity residing in Brahman.
Yoga Nidra is not a technique but pure consciousness
This is not a technique but a chance to see the universe with changed eyes. Diluting Yoga Nidra to only a technique is taking the unity of Yoga away.
So, when we return to the singularity of consciousness, to our unmanifested nature, we experience real unity, that is Yoga Nidra. It´s a synonym of Maya, which is creative power and consciousness lying unmanifest when the lord has gathered all his senses, all the sparks of his consciousness. There the consciousness waits for the fresh cycle of creation, waits to bloom and to express.
With Yoga Nidra and its practice, as a technique, we can push a small door open and take a peek into god´s bedchamber through. Coiled up Kundalini energy lies dormant after the withdrawal of the universe. The serpent of energy has withdrawn the whole energy into itself is called, god´s sleep, or god´s night.
Sleep and the Yogic sleep
When you understand the nature of sleep you can understand the nature of Yogic sleep.
Sleep has the same nature as death, entering a different dimension. In death, you take off your body like changing your clothes. Every night you put aside the awareness of your body and go deeper inside your astral body without any fear. The experience of unity solidified consciousness, bliss, enjoying the state and only eating with the mouth called mind/ mind field is the same as in death experience.
Sleep in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali has two different meanings and definitions:
- Sleep is a modification and a fluctuation of the mind, an activity of it, not the consciousness itself. The emptiness we experience there is filled with cognition of absence.
- Sleep is a source of knowledge as you are diving into yourself. As you dive deep enough you will find pure knowledge.
There is always a conscious part of the mind when we sleep. So, when you know that there is something going on with or around you while you are fast asleep, this part of the mind gets caught by practice and becomes aware. The surface of the mind is resting and the source of knowledge is opening.
When you dive into sleep with full awareness, then the sleep becomes a source of knowledge. This kind of sleep is called Yoga Nidra.
Benefits of practicing Yoga Nidra
Yoga Nidra – a source of knowledge
The knowledge does not come through the mind, but through buddhi, inner wisdom. You can break the barriers with Yoga Nidra so that knowledge will reveal to you. Yoga Nidra practice is doorways, it´s a tool. So, what do you do with the restful mind? Time to accomplish something and use the tool.
You can solve problems and learn, invent when you activate some functions of different layers of Koshas. In Yogic sleep. In only 10 minutes you can plan 6 years of work fully. After the practice. you have to do a conscious recall to not forget what you worked on though. Healing and knowledge are the benefits you can use. The psycho-neurological system can rest completely during Yoga Nidra which brings quick recovery by neurophysiological healing.
How to do Yoga Nidra?
Instead of DOING Yoga Nidra you allow yourself to glide into it.
When you become aware of the entity that knows whether you have slept well or not, the consciousness that remains as an observer, that is Yoga Nidra.
As a practice, it is a simple method, consisting of breathing and mental exercises. It always starts with Shavasana.
- To practice, lie down on the bed on a hard surface in a quiet undisturbed place in Shavasana. Use a pillow and cover yourself with a blanket. Put a black cover over the eyes. Use a quiet time of the day as sudden noises can be disturbing.
- Apply diaphragmatic breathing, after 21 deep breaths, feel as though you are inhaling by visualizing an incoming wave of the ocean. Exhale by emptying yourself and let the wave come back to the ocean. A journey through the body should be applied with sequenced body relaxation.
- Empty yourself of Samskaras, thoughts, feelings, and desires, karmas, intentions or intellectual contemplation. Be careful and determined not to fall asleep. The mind should be focused on inhalation and exhalation only.
- Make the breath harmonious. When there are no jerks, shallowness and no unconscious expansion of the pauses between the breaths you reach harmony.
- Practice only for 10 minutes in the beginning and not more than once a day. Repeat the same practice the next days again.
Qualifications of Yogic sleep
When in deep sleep there are no desires and no dreams, it is called Sushupti. This also applies to regular sleep but in Yogic sleep, you are aware of those qualities. You become aware that you are experiencing a state of unity while in regular sleep you are not aware of it. Being aware in deep, dreamless sleep is Yogic sleep!
- Eki Bhudha: Experiencing an undiversified and undivided state where everything is unity.
- Pratchianagana: Experiencing that you are made of solid consciousness and knowledge. You are able to learn new things as you access the perfect knowledge inside. Short cuts to knowledge are there and quick learning happens.
- Anandamaya: Experiencing bliss. Duality vanishes and a state of unity is experienced.
- Ananda Buk: Enjoying the state of bliss. Here all diversities are consumed and the bliss is eaten by the mind.
- Jeto Mukka: Experiencing the mind field and consuming bliss and knowledge via the mind. The consciousness is flowing freely through the mind.
Yoga Nidra functions as a bridge from wakefulness to meditation. You can also go from the sleep state into meditation or samadhi as you practice to be conscious in your sleep. In yogic sleep, we don´t lose our identity, but we can discover the identity within. With the instruments of Yoga Nidra, the impressions from outside can rest. No experiences are made and the identity can be left behind. Then the true identity comes forth. Experiencing sleep is different than the classical sleeping state.