The Biology, Psychology and Spirituality of Yoga Nidra
By Yogi Amrit Desai
For more than 40 years, Yogi Amrit Desai (Gurudev) has been a pioneer in reestablishing the spiritual depth of yoga. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world now teach and practice yoga as a result of Yogi Desai's teachings. The yoga society Yogi Desai founded eventually grew to become Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, one of the largest centers of its kind in America. Yogi Desai is the author of 8 books and 45 CDs on yoga and holistic living.
The literal translation of Yoga Nidra is Yogic Sleep. It is an ancient form of meditation that will take you into the deepest levels of relaxation while still remaining fully aware. In this deep state beyond ordinary waking consciousness, you naturally re-align with spirit, allowing you to effortlessly disengage from restrictive physical, mental and emotional patterning. Here, you are free to create a life that is an expression of higher consciousness, rather than acquired conditioning.
The Amrit Method of Yoga Nidra takes you to the alpha and theta states of consciousness, far beyond ordinary waking consciousness. You tap into your ajna chakra, the Third Eye, the center where visions become reality. The result is direct access to the extraordinary powers of your own intuition, creativity, health and abundance. Yoga Nidra is not merely a technique, and much more than a relaxation exercise.
Yoga Nidra can enhance the healing process and boost the immune system. It is effective in helping people with stress, addictions, sleep disorders, nervous conditions and in releasing long-standing behavioral patterns. Yoga Nidra awakens the mystical, integrative power of the third eye. Stimulation of the third eye, which corresponds to the pineal gland, increases the production of melatonin, known to yogis as Amrit. This natural hormone helps:
- eliminate stress,
- induce restful sleep,
- prevent premature aging,
- reduce high blood pressure,
- boost the immune system.
"Yoga Nidra is one of the least explored, esoteric yogic practices. It is simple to practice yet profound in impact. It ignites the fire that burns old karma."
--Yogi Amrit Desai
Biological Basis of Yoga Nidra
Stress is the biggest problem we face in modern life. The tensions we carry are held deep within physical body and on even deeper levels in the subtle bodies, which we are not even aware of. Simple physical tension can be eased by stretching, exercise or massage, but subtle tensions are difficult to recognize and even harder to release. Yoga Nidra is a unique method that goes below surface tensions to release and transform the three-fold source of stress, which lies dormant in our physical, mental and emotional bodies.
This simple practice allows you to drop into sleep-like levels yet remain in an integrative, relaxed brainwave activity. Normal waking brain activity produces the faster, fragmented beta waves. The slower alpha waves, and even slower theta waves produce deep relaxation and are the entry points to the subconscious. In this state, you make the conscious crossover from the logical, linear, left brain to the intuitive right brain that connects you with the field of conscious pranic intelligence, where intention is carried out spontaneously and effortlessly.
In addition to the beta brainwave activity, normal waking consciousness also engages the sympathetic nervous system, which reacts to stimulus and the secretion of adrenaline. Chronic engagement of the familiar waking consciousness creates an imbalance, forcing the right brain and parasympathetic nervous system to progressively become more dormant and dysfunctional. We become stuck in overdrive, the leading cause of stress.
Conscious crossover initiates the shift from normal waking consciousness to the tranquilizing and balancing power of the parasympathetic nervous system. The purpose of yoga, as well as the practice of Yoga Nidra, is to initiate the integrative process that activates the balancing interplay between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, and the left and right brain.
Yoga Nidra brings together integrative forces of homeostasis, the natural balancing of polarity. This is why it is called yogic sleep. In regular sleep, a similar process of balancing of energy or prana occurs, except you are unconscious. Being conscious and deeply relaxed, you are able to introduce the integrative intention where pranic intelligence is allowed to carry out the deeper levels of healing and transformative experiences. With the removal of all surface and subtle tensions you enter into a deeply integrated space where healing occurs naturally.
Psychological Basis of Yoga Nidra
Stress caused by our individual, unconscious conflict-creating patterns is built into our biology and psychology. In yogic terminology, it is our personal karmic debt against the impersonal, omnipresent reality. In psychology, it is the vast complex of habits, patterns, belief systems and self-concepts that control our lives, holding us back from living joyously and fully.
Karma is the compelling force that regulates your actions, forms your self-image, shapes your perceptions, impacts your health, structures your beliefs and personal biases, and creates mental and emotional barriers. It is at the root of what we perceive as our problems, although it may take on many forms. All human suffering is caused by conflict created by our personal, conditioned and biased reactions to the impersonal nature of reality.
Karmic debt is triggered through interpersonal relationships and has nothing to do with a person or situation that initiates our karmic reaction. Instead, karma lives in the form of our reaction to that person or situation. Karmic patterns that bring suffering are buried in our reaction that is activated by the karmic button pushed by someone else. Yoga Nidra focuses on removing the button, which causes the reaction rather than the person who pushes the button.
The Amrit Method of Yoga Nidra empowers you to uncover and alter the deepest karmic roots hidden in your subconscious. Removing subconscious energetic blocks is like a tuning fork into the limitless field of pranic intelligence, connecting us with self-regulating and self-restorative powers.
The Spiritual Basis of Yoga Nidra
This approach is neither logical nor psychological. It is a quantum leap beyond the comprehension of the intellect, and operates from the domain of trust and faith, love and compassion. It transcends the linear dimension of logic, reason and memory. The purpose of this ancient, yogic practice is to reactivate the harmonizing power of our subconscious, pranic intelligence.
Yoga Nidra techniques are designed to temporarily disconnect the mind and senses from your ordinary waking consciousness, which is conditioned by karmic patterns. From there, it re-connects you with the higher integrative state of being. This is your true nature from which you can receive all you need to activate the self-healing powers of the universal, pranic field.
The core secret of deepest levels of relaxation is integration of body, mind, heart and soul. Deep-seated karmic tensions can be banished only when you successfully penetrate unconscious inhibitions, blocks and limitations in the subtle bodies. This means you are bringing balance biologically, psychologically and spiritually. When ally systems function in harmony, energy moves from horizontal to vertical. This creates the cross, where horizontal and vertical energies are in unity, the Christ consciousness.
Yoga Nidra empowers you to go into deep states of relaxation, which accesses the seed of karma, and resolves it by burning the seed and eliminating the button that causes the reaction rather than removing the button pusher. It has the potential to heal all past traumatic interpersonal relationships, empowering you to release the vital energy held hostage by blame, anger, guilt, jealousy, hatred, fear, and attachment. This is the process of awakening the uninhibited, expansive, integrative perception, which unfold with the awakening powers of the third eye.
The connection to your source of for self-healing, personal growth and transformation power is already always present within you. Yoga Nidra is the master key for self-transformation. It can be used to initiate the power of the soul that empowers you to turn your hidden, inner potentiality into actuality.
Yoga Nidra is the marriage of science and spirita transformative technique whose powerful healing qualities transcend all aspects of your being. Modern research has proven the benefits of meditative techniques on lowering stress and promoting overall health:
- Electroencephalograph studies (EEG) demonstrate the increase of alpha brain waves, which are directly linked with the relaxation of the nervous system
- Stress hormones are reduced, blood pressure and heart rates decline and the metabolic system slows down
- Regular practice adds years to your lifespan (5-12 years if practiced daily)
- Reactivating the pineal gland secretes melatonin, which helps prevent illness, retard premature aging, induce more restful sleep, boost the immune system, and promote healing
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