Yoga Nidra : Purpose of Yoga Nidra

Monday, November 30, 2009

Purpose of Yoga Nidra

The word “Yoga” can be translated as “the joining together of two things that have never been
separate” and the word “Nidra,” from the Sanskrit, means “sleep.” When taken together, one common
interpretation of “Yoga Nidra” is psychic sleep or deep relaxation with inner awareness, where one
appears to be asleep, but consciousness is functioning at a deeper level of awareness. (Bhushan 2001)

In psychology, the state achieved in Yoga Nidra is termed the hypnogogic state, a state between sleep
and wakefulness. It is thought that when we are in this state, we have access to the latent or
subconscious level of the mind, and are even able to influence it. For instance, we are able to directly
attenuate the deep habit patterns of attachment or aversion that drive our actions in the waking state.

Miller goes one step further; he interprets sleep as a state of being unconscious or unaware. As such,
he says that from the perspective of Yoga Nidra, we are asleep when we view the world as consisting
of solid and separate objects. He defines the yogi as one who, whether asleep or awake, is aware of the
fundamental nature of reality – that all things are inherently One, and there is no separation anywhere.
He purports that the aim of Yoga Nidra is thus to come to the first-hand experience that “we are not
the limited, finite creatures that we mistakenly take ourselves to be,” but rather, “we are non-separate
awareness, a joyous Beingness that is always present.” (Miller 2002)

Swami Janakananda Saraswati, founder of the Scandinavian Yoga and Meditation School, as well as
the disciple of Swami Satyananda Saraswati, supports Miller’s argument. He too says that the purpose
of Yoga Nidra is to touch and experience the various dimensions of our being and to awaken
consciousness in areas where it is usually dormant due to tensions. The aim is that by doing so, we are
able to experience that we are not bound to just one plane of consciousness, but rather that we
consciously contain them all. That in turn is meant to lead to the insight that our true identity is the
experiencing consciousness behind it all. (Janakananda 1998)


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