Yoga Nidra has been rapidly growing in popularity as a practice for deep relaxation. While it is effective for this purpose, Yoga Nidra is much more than a form of progressive relaxation. Yoga Nidra is a state of consciousness.
To understand Yoga Nidra it may be best to first explore what it is not. Yoga Nidra is not a technique. It is not a system that guides a person's awareness through various body parts. It is not a substitute for sleep and it is not method to help a person sleep. Yoga Nidra is a state of consciousness in which a person takes control of the process of creation. Everything is a side-effect of the practice.
The story of creation is told in several ancient Vedic texts such as the Puranas of Lord Vishnu laying on a serpent in the ocean sleeping. He lies in the state of Yoga Nidra and in this state of consciousness take control over the process of creation. Although the stories in the 18 classical Puranas vary slightly each describes Lord Brahma arising from the Belly Button of Lord Vishnu signifying that creation occurs from this State of consciousness. In this state of awareness, one becomes the master of their own consciousness and can break through the limitations of their karma (past actions) and samksaras (tendencies). In essence, the individual in Yoga Nidra is free to create the life of their dreams.
Yogi's throughout history have understood this. The Master Sri Deep Narayan Mahaprabhuji knew this. he lived in Rajasthan, India from 1828-1963. That's right. He lives to be 135 years old. The Master wrote these words about Yoga Nidra:
Rare is he who knows Yoga Nidra,
That sleep which is conscious,
The sun rises in the night!
His eyes are closed
But they are connected with
the all-seeing inner consciousness,
His bed is prepared in Shunya, in nothingness,
Completely detached from the body,
The nature of that place is white and void.
The flower that is upside down
Opens its blossom in front of him,
These words come out of that medium
The hovering bond of consciousness is tied with Turiya (Superconsciousness)
In the void numerous suns rise and the unrealizable is realized
The power of Divine nature awakens,
The upside-down blossom awakens the power
and grows into Super-Consciousness.
Consciousness unites with Super-Consciousness
The Yogi attains Selfhood
And listens to the noiseless sound of the Divine Name,
Immediately his consciousness is united
with the Supreme,
He gains knowledge of the Tattvas (Potentials), the elements,
Because his consciousness has returned to its heavenly home.
There is only void-consciousness, no other vision,
Nothing else is visible,
Before he reached this state, his words lacked certainty,
He was standing at the border shouting questions
About what was beyond.
Now he is Purusha (The Divine), complete,
And his words express that which is beyond expression.
Omniscient Shiva revealed the science of Yoga,
Sri Krishna explained it in the Gita,
Many Saints and Yogis have sung its ancient glory,
But few indeed have realized it.
Sri Alakh Puriji, the true Sannyasi,
has realized the complete,
Sri Devpuriji, Master of the Yogis,
Showed me that formless world,
Only few know about Yoga Nidra,
They can understand what the Guru is.
Mahaprabhu Deep says that they are
the true heroes who Awaken the Eternal Consciousness
within their consciousness.
Yoga Nidra is a State of Consciousness Awareness. This state does bring about a deep rest to the body and mind and it frees us from our compulsions. It heals our deepest tendencies bringing about greater freedom. It heals the body and mind. While most teachers of Yoga Nidra today use various forms of progressive deep relaxation to enter into this state, historically there were other paths to this state of consciousness as well. There were mudras such as Kechari Mudra that could lead the aspriant into this state. However, progressive relaxation is the most commonly used and accessible state. The key to success is to stay away and to NOT sleep. That's right. This is the greatest challenge. Sleep is not Yoga Nidra.
Once awake and aware in this state of consciousness the practitioner is able to engage awareness and intention to alter the flow of energy (prana) in the body and mind and bring about healing. On an even grander scale, a person can activate the forces of creation and create changes in their physical world. This is not magic. This is how nature works. The focus of prana (cosmic energy) is the true secrete of creation. From a place of focused awareness and intention one can changes their deepest nature and when that happens, the world around changes its nature. The philosopher, Marc Alan said it quite well in the early 20th centur. "Things do not change, we change. Then things around us appear to change". Yoga Nidra changes who we are and then the world around us appears to change.
About the Author:
Marc Halpern is the Author of the Yoga Nidra CD: Yoga Nidra and Self Healing. He is also the President of the California College of Ayurveda and conducts Yoga Nidra Teacher Certification Courses World-Wide.