By Faye Martins
Just as the original teachings of Yogic philosophy have been diluted over the years, Yoga Nidra, also known as “deep sleep,” is now used to apply to almost any Yoga-related form of guided relaxation. The original practice, however, goes far deeper and involves three levels of consciousness. Although Yoga Nidra is a calm and blissful state, it is also the method used by ancient Yoga teachers for purification and exploration of karmic patterns.
What are the three levels of consciousness?
• The waking state is conscious and relates to the gross body, or those things that are experienced by the five senses.
• The dream state is unconscious and relates to the energy fields of the subtle, or astral, body. The astral body connects the gross body with the causal body.
• The sleep state is subconscious and relates to the causal body – the state where realities can be changed and karma is stored.
These three stages are followed by a state of pure consciousness.
How is Yoga Nidra different from meditation?
In normal meditation, the mind remains awake and allows thoughts, feelings, images, and sensations to gently pass through the consciousness. Nidra, on the other hand, is a state of Yogic sleep in which the mind leaves the initial stages of meditation, goes beyond the dreaming state, and experiences deep sleep while still being awake.
What Is Yoga Nidra?
• First of all, it is important to remember that Yoga Nidra is not a process or style of meditation. It is a state of being and does not belong to any particular group or Yoga training style.
• Nidra accesses the mind on a subconscious level and goes beneath the thinking part of the mind. It opens the door to the causal level, the stage where changes in reality occur.
• This technique is not more important than other kinds of meditation. Instead it works with meditation to awaken consciousness.
• Yoga Nidra is not guided imagery because there are no images in the mind. It is also different from the non-dreaming stage of sleep.
• Nidra does not involve affirmations or music because the mind must be clear of thoughts. However, music, imagery, and affirmations may be one of the techniques used on the path to reaching a state of nidra.
A universal concept with an ancient history, Yoga Nidra is simply the “emptying” of the mind in order to open to a greater consciousness. Although there are many roads in Yoga and many kinds of travel, there is only one destination – the deep sleep that paves the way for enlightenment.
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