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Yoga nidra (Sanskrit: योग निद्रा) or yogic sleep) is a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping, like the "going-to-sleep" stage. It is a state in which the body is completely relaxed, and the practitioner becomes systematically and increasingly aware of the inner world by following a set of verbal instructions. This state of consciousness (yoga nidra) is different from meditation in which concentration on a single focus is required. In yoga nidra the practitioner remains in a state of light pratyahara with four of his or her senses internalised, that is, withdrawn, and only the hearing still connects to the instructions. The yogic goal of both paths, deep relaxation (yoga nidra) and meditation are the same, a state called samadhi.
Yoga nidra is among the deepest possible states of relaxation while still maintaining full consciousness. In lucid dreaming, one is only, or mainly, cognizant of the dream environment, and has little or no awareness of one's actual environment.
The practice of yoga relaxation[clarification needed] has been found to reduce tension and anxiety. The autonomic symptoms of high anxiety such as headache, giddiness, chest pain, palpitations, sweating and abdominal pain respond well. It has been used to help soldiers from war cope with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
History and background
The concept of yoga nidra is very ancient in Indian traditions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. Krishna is often associated with yoga nidra in the epic Mahabharata. Similarly, many yogis and rishis are supposed to have experienced yoga nidra throughout their life.
In modern times, yoga nidra was experienced by Satyananda Saraswati when he was living with his guru Sivananda Saraswati in Rishikesh. He began studying the tantric scriptures and, after practice, constructed a system of relaxation, which he began popularizing in the mid-20th century. He explained yoga nidra as a state of mind between wakefulness and sleep that opened deep phases of the mind, suggesting a connection with the ancient tantric practice called nyasa, whereby Sanskrit mantras are mentally placed within specific body parts, while meditating on each part (of the bodymind). The form of practice taught by Satyananda includes eight stages (internalisation, sankalpa, rotation of consciousness, breath awareness, manifestation of opposites, creative visualization, sankalpa and externalisation).
Satyananda used this technique, along with suggestion, on the child who was to become his successor, Niranjanananda Saraswati, from the age of four. He claims to have taught him several languages by this method.
- Bihar School of Yoga
- Dream yoga
- Mandukya Upanishad
- Ösel (yoga)
- Richard Miller (psychologist)
- Satyananda Saraswati
- "Lucid Sleeping (Yoga Nidra) - Meditation Mojo". www.meditationmojo.com.
- Rivers, Eileen. A Breath of Hope. Washington Post Tuesday, May 6, 2008; Page HE01. https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/05/02/AR2008050203426.html
- Rama, Swami. Mandukya Upanishad: Enlightenment Without God. ISBN 0-89389-084-7.
- Saraswati, Swami Satyananda (1974). Tantra-yoga panorama. International Yoga Fellowship Movement. p. 25. Retrieved 8 March 2011.
- Washington Post Article on study of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder using Yoga Nidra
- Science Direct Study of dopamine response during Yoga Nidra
- Learn Yoga Nidra in 9 Simple Steps
- Human Brain Mapping Study using PET scans during Yoga Nidra
- Pictures of the brain's activity during Yoga Nidra Bindu Magazine article on Yoga Nidra research from The State University Hospital in Copenhagen.