a-bhāva-pratyayālambanā vṛttir nidrā
- Sleep is a mental activity depending on the absence of thoughts directed to an object in the moment. -CT
- The mental modification supported by cognition of nothingness is sleep. – SS
- Deep sleep is that state of mind which is based on an absence of any content. – EBF
vṛtti—mental state, mental activities, fluctuations
ālambana—based, depending on, supporting
pratyaya—cognition, present thought directed toward an object
Sleep is considered a time when the mental activity is in a predominately tamasic state, meaning that it is enveloped in inertia. When we sleep we are not taking in sensory information and our mind is not actively relating to an object. When we wake we know the quality of our sleep, we say we slept well or we tossed and turned, we may even dream. We think that we have no thoughts during sleep, but even the thought of having no thoughts is a thought. Some part of us remains, even while we sleep.
Dreaming during sleep is considered to have the quality of rajas (passion, activity) and tamas (inertia) and it involves citta, our heart mind-field on the subconscious level. Deep sleep is unconscious, nothing is happening, the citta is inactive. Deep sleep is described as being sattvic (light) enveloped in tamas (darkness). Yoga Nidra is considered beyond the citta, it is super conscious, blissful, has no object, and is experienced as the state between waking and dreaming.
Dream Yoga is an advanced yoga practice. What degree of awareness remains in your transitions in and out of sleep. Do you recognize your dreams as dreams? Dream Yoga is the attempt by Yogin-s to bring the quality of meditation into their sleep state.
As in any type of yoga, the practice begins with Sankalpa, intention. The intention is to bring a meditative focus into sleep and allowing for a period of recall upon waking. As one becomes more proficient in the practice you will find that you can maintain a light of awareness during dreaming, lucid dreaming. When this is available one should then adopt a meditative quality in the dream state.
- Process your days events prior to sleep. You could do this by doing the Pranayama and Meditation exercise below or journaling.
- Try sleeping on the right side to open the Ida Nadi, the Moon Chanel to help the mind be receptive and calm.
- Do a body scan and release tension.
- Rest the mind in the heart.
- Pray. Ask to be able to recall your dreams. Ask for guidance to come through your dreams. Ask to bring the meditative quality into your dreams. “I will rest my awareness in the Self while sleeping.”
- Wake but don’t move, allow time to reflect.
- Set an intention for your day.
Watch for changes in the Pranayama/Meditation Section of Practice!
Guide me to that which is in my highest good. Help me to distinguish what nourishes my soul and what deteriorates my being. Lead me down the path of wisdom so that I may show up fully in each moment. Let my study be enlightening and fruitful. Allow my practice to benefit all beings. – Namaste
- Take a comfortable seat, one that feels both regal and relaxed.
- Turn your attention to your breath, closing your mouth inhale and exhale through both nostrils.
- Start to restrict the throat so that you feel the breath from the throat to the heart, and it makes and oceanic sound.
- Start to lengthen both the inhale and exhale so that they are balanced.
- Feel the sensation of the body expanding in all directions during the inhalation and the contracting sensation during the exhalation.
- Continue for 5 minutes, then allow the breath to return to normal.
- Get comfortable in Savasana and listen to the Yoga Nidra audio file. You can practice Yoga Nidra anytime that you feel tired and need a quick recharge or when you want to relax, like before bed.
- What is the quality of my sleep? Do I sleep soundly? Do I fall asleep easily? Do I wake up repeatedly during the night? Do I wake up refreshed?
- Do I dream? Can I remember my dreams?
- How do I feel after Yoga Nidra?
What does this remind me of? Other stories, scriptures, or teachings.