Updated: Sep 15, 2019
Excerpt from Swami Satyananda Saraswati's transcribed speech on Nidra Publications Trust, Munger, Bihar, India
The yoga nidrä techniques generally lead to a type of yogic sleep. In other words they result in a deep state of fusion with the universe or Macrocosm. This occurs on several levels. The entire muscular, nervous, bio-energetic, psychic and mental body are placed in a condition of perfect relaxation. However, the consciousness remains hyper-watchful. Thus through any yoga nidrä technique a state of maximum calm lucidity occurs, which leads to a gathering and a reconciling of the person's constituent structures within oneself. The predominant effect of yoga nidrä techniques is that the consciousness reaches a peculiar state of refinement and an exceptional plenitude.
These techniques constitute an excellent method for deep relaxation, especially for hypersensitive persons with psyche troubles and those who are anxious or overworked. The consistent practitioner of one of these techniques will discover another source of energy and an unexpected way to achieve real psychosomatic relaxation from the superficial to deep levels. This is conducive to the activation of paranormal capacities (e.g. telepathy), as well as spiritual enrichment.
Therefore yoga nidrä is a sui-generis form of conscious Yogic sleep in which the nervous system, the bio-energetic structure and the consciousness are in a superior state of relaxation. Only the consciousness of the being remains awake; silent and hyper-watchful; without thought nor image. It controls the
specific technique for reaching this state of Yogic sleep (yoga nidrä).
There are many diverse yoga nidrä techniques. They are not only modalities for reaching deep relaxation, but also a form of meditation that is non intellectual and experienced simultaneously on several planes of the being.
A yogin notices that his inner life spontaneously begins to change for the better without violence nor effort after a few months of steady practice of yoga nidrä. He becomes calmer, more relaxed, braver and less aggressive; without any need for self-control. These natural transformations take place due to contact with the superior energetic planes of the Universe; and with one’s real and deep nature. This is all obtained during this conscious Yogic sleep. The mind becomes inactive and in a state of passive responsiveness during yoga nidrä. The manifestation of this deep nature begins to make itself noticed first as calmness and peace, which now is no longer naturally hindered.
In the superior stages of practice one unemotionally experiences a certain joy of being, a lightness and brightness; and often this appears as if one is emitting an exquisite air of universal affection. Through this steady practice our genuine nature replaces the false and illusory ego and dissolves the jarring aspects of our personality.
These yoga nidrä techniques are excellent for overworked or stressed persons, as they allow for a strong retrieval of energy. This is achieved by placing the consciousness on the most relaxed levels of the being, so that any blockages of psyche energy can be dissipated. Childhood complexes, trauma, anxiety and obsessive moods cannot exist, as they no longer find any fulcrum nor basis because beneficial harmonious energies are boosted. This is due to the opening and the expansion of the field of consciousness.
Thus the being gradually emerges out of all that hinders one in living in a complete state of harmony; rather then in fear, inhibition or shame. By thoroughly studying Yogic sleep and the simultaneous exploration of the consciousness, one progressively reaches a subtle level where the dominant feature is deep calmness, plenary harmony with other structures of the person, general well-being, and deep peace.
Yet still there may be periods during which one “relapses” into the whirlpool of thoughts, images, or memories. With practice and due to an ever increasing alertness these negative periods become less important and occur less often, and dissolve and abate in intensity.
In a Yoga session the yoga nidrä techniques are normally practised at the end, after the äsana-s and präëäyäma. The forbiddances concerning having an empty stomach do not apply here so these techniques can be practised at any time.
The practice of yoga nidrä involves attention directed toward oneself; toward one’s thoughts and most intimate reactions. This is accompanied by a deep détente, calmness, peace and self-contemplation which support the relaxation. This constitutes many factors which can be used for psychic balancing and growth. Methodical training in relaxation especially compels one to live entirely and completely in the present. When this occurs there are no more thoughts concerning the past nor the future, because here one is dealing with the novel experience of living second by second. This capacity of intensely living in the immediate present is the only valid basis for any spiritual growth. It is only by doing this that one can become silent within oneself and strip our being to the essence. The superior intelligence that is latent in every human being now has the possibility of manifesting.
In these techniques the only reality in the substratum of the consciousness which perceives these states is what we call the Witness. Through this Witness one may penetrate into the usual state of wakefulness to the dream state, and from there into that of deep sleep while remaining perfectly conscious. The superior stage is to be able to penetrate from this state of deep sleep into that of Ultimate Reality, but still with this complete wakefulness. By practicing assiduously one can ascertain that the Witness is unalterable – it never abates.