Yogic sleep is that peaceful state that provides profound relaxation. Yogic sleep or ‘Yog Nidra’, is different from normal sleep. And continuous practice of yog nidra brings us closer to higher realms of spirituality. Yog Nidra not only impacts how we shape our future, but this beautiful practice can also affect how we remember, recall and even relive our past experiences.
Exercise: Try it out!
Let’s take an example. Try to remember a happy memory from your past. It can be from your childhood or even recent past. After reading this line, close your eyes for a minute and from your mind’s eyes try to go back to that experience,
in vision, feeling and awareness.
Hopefully, you have less distractions around you.
Close your eyes for the exercise.
After you’ve done the above exercise, please continue reading.
Recollecting of the past memory
Thinking about the recollection of a past memory, what you may have experienced may be a series of images and maybe even a few feeling states associated with those. You could possibly have also experienced olfactory information in your recollection.
But, now, imagine, what if you could fully relive the experience you just tried to recreate in your memory? By fully, I mean, the recollection was as real as if you were transported back by time machine into your past and you were living those experiences with the states of mind, maturity and all of the situational variables that were present in those moments. As if, you were living that experience in such depth that your perception, physiological responses and experience was even more clear than the current experience you are having, reading this.
Yogic sleep enhances your mind’s vision enabling you to pick stimuli that otherwise remains out of your peripheral consciousness. This is spiritual state that yogic sleep.
If you practice yoga nidra for a long time, along with living a yogic lifestyle, your personality, health and future would have overwhelming positive changes. You’d be able to (re)live the memory in such vividness, just as if your experience is taking place, in reality. You’ll start experiencing a new state of consciousness, known as ‘Superconsciousness’.
This is the space between wakefulness and sleep.
So, what exactly happens?
According to Swami Satyanadna Saraswati in his classic book, “Yoga Nidra”, the normal sleep and yogic sleep can be differentiated by different stages as explained below.
What happens during normal sleep?
In the normal sleep, in the first stage, your mind has sensory awareness. In the second state, you let go of your suppressed emotions and feelings. This is where dreams occur. And in the third stage, you enter a deep sleep stage whereby your unconscious mind makes you experience your instincts and your primitive drives. Look at the diagrammatic representation below to know the functioning of beta, theta and delta waves.
Above Flow Chart: Stages of sleep during normal sleep
But, what happens during Yoga Nidra?
In Yoga nidra however, your mind goes through a deep relaxation state, which correspond with alpha waves. And you release yourself of all of the stresses, tensions and worries before entering into a deep sleep. In this extended alpha state, you dream yet, you are conscious of the fact that you are dreaming. This is also known as lucid dreaming.
So, when you are practice yoga nidra, you’d find yourself in super-relaxed state of mind, leading you to experience what is known as a ‘superconscious state’ of mind. In Hindu philosophy, this state is also referred to as Turiya. In this ultimate state, you will find yourself at the brink of a sleep and a dreaming state of consciousness. You’d be completely aware of whatever is happening around you. And if practiced regularly, you’d find yourself feeling more and more relaxed, calm and aware of everything around you and within you. Look at the diagrammatic representation below to know the functioning of beta, theta and delta waves. Did you notice the difference between this and the diagram above?
Above Flow Chart: Stages of sleep during yogic sleep
According to experienced yogis, yoga nidra is that experience that can get us closest to the highest yogic stage called ‘Samadhi’. Once you perfect the art of being in superconscious state, waking and dreaming would be same for you. Because now, you’d be functioning in a state of being which is not experienced by most people, and therefore they don’t even understand it.
In this state, you wouldn’t dream. Your life would be a living example of the movie inception, the only difference being, you would never be stuck in a limbo.