Yoga Nidra is derived from Tantras as a powerful technique of relaxation. It belongs to the higher stages of Raja Yoga, since it essentially is a method of Prtayahara( Non sense indulgence).
The designer of Yoga Nidra is my guru Paramhansha Swami Satyananda Saraswati who derived the technique of Yoganidra from the tantric practice of Nyasa. As the main feature of Yoganidra is systematic rotation of consciousness in the body. In Rishi Patanajali’s Raja yoga or AstangaYoga of Patanjali, Pratyahara is the fifth stage of Astangayoga Yoga where the mind and mental awareness are dissociated from the sensory channels. YogaNidra is one aspect of Pratyahara which leads to higher states of concentration & Samadhi.
This practice was developed when my Guru was in Rishikesh with his Guru in his young age. He had some personal astonishing experience which leads him to develop the technique of Yoganidra. His entire outlook to life changed. He started studying Tantrik scriptures in a new light. He knew that knowledge is transmitted directly through the senses. But from his experience he realized that you can gain direct knowledge without any sensory medium as well. That was the birth of Yoganidra. He realized that sleep was not a state of unconsciousness. When one is asleep there remains a state of potentiality, a form of awareness that is awake & fully alert to the outer situation.
Initially my Guru experimented with himself, later with Dog & on different people. The living example is the present spiritual head of Bihar School of Yoga Paramhansa Swami Niranjannanda Saraswati. Swami Niranjan was presented to BSY at the age of four for Sanyasa. But the boy was very naughty, absolute monkey, all day breaking things, harassing visitors, causing accidents. Finally he became a liability to Ashram. Then, Swami Satyananda decided to try Yoganidra on him.
Now, the whole world looking at Swami Niranjan as the incarnation of Shri Krishna, full of sixteen Kalas walking on this planet without any formal education like Shri Krishna. He was imparted all the knowledge through Yoganidra only.
YOGANIDRA IS AN ART OF RELAXATION TO GET RID OF ALMOST ALL PSYCHOSOMATIC DISEASES
Within the last century or two diseases have sprung up with new dimension & expression which are named as psychosomatic diseases. Modern science has been trying to tackle these problems in many ways. But frankly speaking they have failed in their effort because the real problem doesn’t lie in the body. It originates from Men’s changing ideals, way of thinking & feelings. Most of the problems of the developing countries are not poverty or hunger, drugs or war. It’s tension, hypertension, total tension. If you know how to free yourself from tension, you know how to solve problems in life. There are threefold tensions we accumulate in our day-to-day life. One muscular, two emotional three mental. Whether you think too much or you don’t think at all, you accumulate tension. You work or don’t work you accumulate tension. Therefore in Yoga relaxation from tension is a chief concern. To get rid of tension most people think just lying on the bed or closing one’s eyes one gets relaxation. Unless one is free from muscular, mental & emotional tension you are never relaxed. Despite a superficial sense of well-being most people are full of tension all the time. Some people habitually show many symptoms of tension like biting nails. People do these things because they lack awareness of their own inner tensions. They think they are relaxed but actually they are not. Those who adopt this technique in their daily routine soon experience profound changes in their sleeping habits. The total systematic relaxation of Yoganidra session is equivalent to hours of ordinary sleep without awareness.
YOGANIDRA IS A PRACTICE OF TOTAL TRANSFORMATION
Through the practice of Yoganidra we are not only relaxing but restructuring & reforming our whole personality from within. With every session we born our old Sanskaras, habits and tendencies in order to be born a new. Shri Swamiji also experimented with hardcore criminals in 1968 during a world tour. What is the secret of this transformation? Release of tension, relaxation, peace of mind. There are secret of transformation. When a man is under tension, his behavior is influenced, when he relaxes; he becomes natural & what is the natural state of a man? Sat Chit Ananda Swaroop. I myself witnessed this transformation in some people during some Yoga Nidra session which I conducted. I have also noticed some obvious differences in every person practicing Yoga Nidra. They look at me in a different way as it for years together they were searching for something & somebody has given something unique to them.
YOGANIDRA IS TRAINING OF MIND
As it is already said Yoganidra is a tantric practice because in Tantra the evolution of mind should become a spontaneous matter. One should not fight with his nature, habits& limitations as it creates animosity within us. Therefore, those who try to correct themselves through the religious path become schizophrenic. The unconscious mind is the base of man’s normal & abnormal behavior. Yoganidra is a practice which helps one to dive deep into the depths of mind.
Man is weak because he depends merely on his intellect & the information of his senses, but once the realm of the deeper mind opens by practicing Yoganidra you are at the root of creativity. In Hindu Mythology Lord Vishnu is lying in Yoganidra on the ocean of milk. He is lying on a serpent & Laxmi is massaging his feet. He is in a pose neither unconsciousness nor conscious. He is in a subconscious state. Lord Vishnu is called the organizer of the whole universe. When somebody practices Yoganidra he/she invokes the power of Lord Vishnu within himself & activating the subconscious mind. He enters the deeper realm of unconscious.
YOGANIDRA IS A STATE OF RECEPTIVITY
In day to day life people are not receptive. Intellectual conversation is one aspect of human life. We are intellectually convinced about the duality of life. Intellectual mind is always judgemantal & non receptive. The illogical, restless mind can be disobedient, but Yoganidra mind is absolutely receptive & obedient.
My Guru had a personal experience of a thief who did not leave his habit of stealing when Guruji convinced him intellectually. After 5 years when my guru met him in a village, he was on the same profession of stealing. Guruji remained in the village for 6 months and taught Yoganidra to him along with others. Shortly, after he left his profession.
SOWING THE SEED OF CHANGE
One of the most important things in Yoganidra is the Sankalp. It is said anything in life can fail you, but not the sankalpa made during Yoganidra. By creating a Sankalpa for oneself one gives a direction to life. Generally most of the people lead their life without any goal. They just move in the ocean of life as it naturally leads to. Using the technique of Yoganidra we have a choice in life, that choice is created by the Sankalpa. Intellectual Sankalpa never fructify. In Yoganidra we prepare the mind where a seed is implanted to germinate later. Many people can eradicate their bad habits like smoking or drinking, just by implanting new powerful seeds in the mind. When Sankalpa becomes the directing force, everything you do in life becomes successful.
YOGANIDRA CLEANS THE KARMIC ACCOUNTS
Karmas or Sanskaras are accumulated in the different layers of man’s inner consciousness. The deepest is the unconsciousness, the second is the sub consciousness and the third is the consciousness. In the doctrine of Karma these three levels are known as current Karma, accumulated Karma & destiny. In Yoganidra one’s consciousness travels from one layer to another. That’s why sometimes there is fantastic & exploding experience. During the practice when dissociation takes place between mind & body one has a lot wonderful experience. Their experiences are nothing but the manifestation of one’s harmony either from this life on previous lives. This is how the process of Yoganidra eliminates the whole store of Karmas & purifies the deeper layer of the mind. Behind the senses & the mind, there are other faculties which most of us not experienced as far. Sometimes, in Yoganidra one is able to go to the core of the consciousness. Then, we can manifest the latest faculties of the supersonic cerebral circuits. The extra sensorial centers in the brain are known as supersonic circuits & they are very powerful. Sometimes some extra sensorial experience is termed as madness or hallucination. But my Guru says madness is not a sickness. It is a development state of the brain. He considers madness a spiritual experience which man has not been able to handle. He says what is the difference between a Yogi & madman? A yogi is able to handle his experiences & a madman generally ends up in a lunatic asylum. Through the technique of Yoganidra it is taught how to handle them. If one can handle the mind through the practice of Yoganidra it is possible one can completely unite with his inner being.
Yoganidra is not a practice of concentration; it is just awareness one has to follow the instructions of instruction in a very relaxed manner. It is very natural for the practioner of Yoganidra to miss some of the instruction, it doesn’t matter. In Yoganidra it is not important to make yourself peaceful. Whatever state of mind one has, should not force oneself.
YOGANIDRA IS A PROCESS OF PRATYAHARA
In Yoganidra we are directly at the 5th stage of Patanjali’s astangyoga which is called Pratyahara. When Pratyahara becomes deep and powerful total isolation of the brain takes place. Then the cerebral fluid which flows around the brain underneath the skull is changed with a high level of energy. At this level one begins to have psychic experiences. But through Yoganidra these psychic experiences must be avoided. When one develops psychic awareness he is going beyond the range of Yoganidra.
YOGANIDRA & HYPNOSIS
Most of the people think it is a form of hypnosis. But, they are scientifically totally different. It starts in a hypnotic state, but if one can disconnect the sensory channels & still maintain awareness. One will be able to transcend the barriers of one’s personality & go to any depth or height.
According to Yoga there are three important Nadis or energy channels in this physical body called Ida, Pingala & Susumna. Ida, the mental force, Pingala, the vital force, Susmna, the spiritual force. In scientific terminology it is known as Sympathetic, Parasympathetic & Central Nervous system.
Throughout our lives, Ida, Pingala Nadis asre continouesly feeding the brain with necessary stimuli which enable us to recognize an object, a sound or idea. If you close off Ida, Pingala by means of Pratyahara, then the brain is isolated, i.e. Hypnosis. But, in Yoganidra the Central Nervous system, Susumna Nadi, awakens the brain completely. The brain receives higher quality of stimuli & knowledge.
YOGANIDRA & BRAIN
Modern neuropsychologists have demonstrated the relationship between body & brain which was already recognized by ancient Yogis. The neurosurgeon affects the body by stimulating the brain. The practice of Yoganidra heightens the awareness of body in order to stimulate the brain. The hologram of the physical body exists within the cerebral white matter. Therefore, Yoganidra is a powerful practice of restoring the health. In Yoganidra the destructive psychosomatic tendency is effectively alleviated by the opposite somatopsychic route. The psychosomatic imbalance is restored spontaneously due to liberation of prana or nervous energy. This energy is redirected for healthy rejuvenation of overtaxed tissues, glands & organs.
VISUALISATION OF SYMBOLS
When we start visualizing the symbols, we are at the sixth stage of Astangyoga. Our mind is a store house of the Sanskaras which condition our thought & experience which compel us to act in a certain way. They are the root cause of the tension. The process of visualization in Yoganidra enables us to purge these Sanskaras from the mind. Finally, I would say Yoganidra leads us to the deeper layer of our consciousness eventually leads us to Samadhi, the final state of achievement. The practice leads us a disease free; transformed personality, heighted awareness & cleansing our Karmas. At psychological level, the fruit of this practice is a detached outlook in life & maturity of the personality. Finally, we start shaping our destiny.