Updated: Sep 15, 2019
The threefold tensions
Whether you think too much or you don’t think at all, you
accumulate tensions. If you work physically or you do not
work at all, you accumulate tensions. Whether you sleep too
much or not at all, you accumulate tensions. Whether you
take a heavy protein diet, a carbohydrate diet, or a vegetarian
diet, you accumulate tensions. And these tensions amass in
the different layers of the human personality. They
accumulate in the muscular, emotional and mental systems.
In yoga we deal with the problems of tension with a wide
periscope. We realize that if the mind is tense, the stomach
will also be tense. And if the stomach is tense, the whole
circulatory system is also tense. It is a vicious circle of
events. Therefore, in yoga, relaxation from tension is one of
the chief concerns.
These inner tensions of the individual contribute to
collective psychological tensions which can manifest in
unhappy family life, chaos and disorder in social life, and
aggression and warfare between communities and nations.
Religions have failed to give peace of mind to the individual.
Law, police, armies and governments have been unable to
establish harmony between people. The yogic texts all
unequivocally state that peace can only be found within,
never without. Therefore, if we wish to create a more peaceful
world, we must first learn how to relax and harmonize our
own body and mind.
Yogic philosophy, as well as modern psychology,
enumerates three basic types of tension which are responsible
for all the agonies of modern life. Through the systematic
practice of yoga nidra, these threefold tensions can be
Muscular tensions are related to the body itself, the
nervous system and endocrinal imbalances. These are easily
removed by the deep physical relaxation attained in the
state of yoga nidra.
Emotional tensions, which stem from various dualities
such as love/hate, profit/loss, success/failure, happiness/
unhappiness, are more difficult to erase. This is because we
are unable to express our emotions freely and openly. Often
we refuse to recognize them, so they are repressed, and the
resulting tensions become more and more deeply rooted. It
is not possible to relax these tensions through ordinary
sleep or relaxation. A method such as yoga nidra can
tranquilize the entire emotional structure of the mind.
Mental tensions are the result of excessive mental activity.
The mind is a whirlpool of fantasies, confusions and
oscillations. Throughout our life, the experiences registered
by our consciousness are accumulated in the mental body.
From time to time these explode, affecting our body, mind,
behaviour and reactions. When we are sad, angry or irritated,
we often attribute that condition of the mind to some
superficial cause. But the underlying cause behind man's
abnormal behaviour lies in the accumulated tensions on the
mental plane. Yoga nidra is the science of relaxation which
enables each of us to dive deep down into the realms of the
subconscious mind, thereby releasing and relaxing mental
tensions, and establishing harmony in all facets of our being.
Resting more efficiently
Most people think that relaxation is very simple; just recline
and close your eyes. Yet, excepting the scientists, nobody
understands what relaxation really means. You are tired so
you go to bed and think that is relaxation. But unless you
are free from muscular, mental and emotional tensions, you
are never relaxed. Despite a superficial sense of wellbeing,
most people are full of tensions all the time. They habitually
bite their nails, scratch their head, stroke their chin, or tap
their feet. Or they may pace about restlessly, talk com-
pulsively, display constant irritability, or chain smoke.
People do these things because they lack awareness of
their own inner tension. They may think that they are
relaxed, but a closer look reveals that they are not. Even
while sleeping, thoughts and worries revolve in the mind, so
that the tense person wakes up feeling exhausted. In order
to relax completely, the inner tensions of the body, emotions
and mind must be released. Then the actual state of relaxation
dawns. The practice of yoga nidra is the scientific method of
removing these tensions.
Yoga nidra is a more efficient and effective form of
psychic and physiological rest and rejuvenation than
conventional sleep. Those who adopt this technique in their
daily routine soon experience profound changes in their
sleeping habits. The total systematic relaxation of a yoga
nidra session is equivalent to hours of ordinary sleep without
awareness. A single hour of yoga nidra is as restful as four
hours of conventional sleep. This is one of the secrets of the
superhuman efficiency and energy of many great yogis, past
and present, who have managed to achieve so much in one
~Swami Satyananda Saraswati. Yoga Nidra.
Yoga Publications Trust, Munger, Bihar, India