reverse engineering "yoga nidra"

Mike H, modified 10 Years ago at 9/20/13 2:30 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 9/20/13 11:27 AM

reverse engineering "yoga nidra"

Posts: 72 Join Date: 1/4/13 Recent Posts

I have listened to a couple "yoga nidra" tracks over the last few months, and read a bit about it, and I've been thinking about that practice. I don't necessarily think it ties in directly to attaining insight, but I still think it is interesting and not really in conflict at all with buddhist meditation. As a busy, working person, it can be a helpful practice to use at times to physically/mentally rest.

I will try to phrase this in a way that does not criticize the common yoga nidra practice, as I am not an expert. This is just my sort of working hypothesis.

Basically, many people practice 'yoga nidra' at yoga studios or by listening to guided meditation/tracks. In my limited experience, these all seem to involve music, and various verbal cues.

Taking a more pragmatic-meditator view, it really seems to me that yoga nidra is simply a skill that one can learn to do without any music or external cues. It is really just training oneself to be in a state of physical stillness and rest, just short of sleep, where the mind is still aware. Music is not necessary. And many of the verbal cues are not necessary, only some are, in the tracks I've listened to.

To me, the process of learning this skill is like learning to fall into 1st jhana as described by Ayya Khema or Leigh Brasington. Although a bit easier. (edit - I only mean 'easier' in a limited sense. I don't suggest I've fully grasped this practice)

Respectfully then, it seems that yoga nidra really it is a skill of working with consciousness, like meditation, and can be practiced quite simply on ones own, without purchasing anything. I would suppose that traditionally yoga nidra must have been thought of as a solo practice, without external cues, but the modern American version of it seems to simply emphasize being guided.

Interested in others' thoughts. Perhaps I have a wrong take, though. I am simply trying to convey that this practice seems like a skill to me, which can be easily separated from the common presentation of it.
Bruno Loff, modified 10 Years ago at 9/20/13 12:09 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 9/20/13 12:09 PM

RE: reverse engineering "yoga nidra"

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
Would love to know more about the method(s) you use, what you get from it, etc.
Mike H, modified 10 Years ago at 9/20/13 1:38 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 9/20/13 1:38 PM

RE: reverse engineering "yoga nidra"

Posts: 72 Join Date: 1/4/13 Recent Posts
Well, again . . . no expert here, but I had listened to some yoga nidra tracks that are available on spotify. It is basically lying in corpse pose, completely still, and frequently using sort of body scanning, like you might find in MBSR programs. Except, a little unlike MBSR that I've seen, you are given cues to sort of fall into a deeper, nearly sleep like rest state. My impression though is that, 'done correctly' you end up being in a slightly different state than just being "near sleep." So you come out of a yoga nidra session very relaxed, but also alert, generally, unlike regular sleep. The physical body felt like it did sleep, almost.

I only do yoga nidra type practices periodically, and not every day. But I feel that practice with meditation has allowed me to do yoga nidra fairly well just on my own, without guidance. It is just like falling into the right mind-state, repeating where I was during guided sessions.

Why do this? As a sleep deprived parent, it seems like a good way to get a potentially-superior form of rest during my kid's brief nap. Regular napping just makes me more tired, and I may only have 1/2 an hour which is not enough time to actually fall asleep. And there are times when I am simply too tired to stay awake meditating. These are all just my suppositions though, and it is sort of an experiment over time.

I will say, with some certainty though, that yoga nidra is not just doing a bad job of meditating while lying down (i.e. fallling asleep). It seems to be a different brain-state. A restful state, but it might not bring insight in the sense of the three characteristics. I think some pragmatic dharma practitioners might be interested in it as sort of a supplemental practice, if they tried it.
M N, modified 10 Years ago at 9/20/13 1:56 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 9/20/13 1:56 PM

RE: reverse engineering "yoga nidra"

Posts: 210 Join Date: 3/3/12 Recent Posts
Practiced it for a while; I agree that you can see it as a skill; the most impressive thing is probably that, after a short session, you can wake up and feel refreshed in a way that a night of sleep just don't, at least for me.

However, those guys repeat a lot that yoga nidra actually is is a state of mind where you are awake during deep sleep, and what most people call yoga nidra are just techniques that are used to get there.

Still, you can use the techniques to take some fast and deep rest.

Link with tons of more info
Mike H, modified 10 Years ago at 9/20/13 2:21 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 9/20/13 2:16 PM

RE: reverse engineering "yoga nidra"

Posts: 72 Join Date: 1/4/13 Recent Posts
Mario, thanks for the link. Could you expand on your experience? Did you have a sense of still awareness, was there awareness of the body etc? I should probably learn a bit more.

The link you gave definitely is helpful. It addresses a number of my questions/thoughts - like yoga nidra is not music, verbal affirmations, etc.
M N, modified 10 Years ago at 9/21/13 8:13 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 9/21/13 7:47 AM

RE: reverse engineering "yoga nidra"

Posts: 210 Join Date: 3/3/12 Recent Posts
Ok... about me:

my first experience with yoga nidra was a few years before starting meditating; I had to study a lot, and Ifound these relaxation exercises that were meant to get you to alpha&eventually deeper state; did them regularly, 7 minutes were enought to make me feel very refreshed; at the beginning it was a recording, after awhile I learnt to do it by myself.

When I begun meditating, observing the breath for the first times, likely because of that past conditioning, I would quiteoften end up in what nowI recognize as a very well known state during the progress in yoga nidra, where the trance was quite deep and a lot of random, mental activity was going on; in particular, I am not a visualthinker, but in those statesI would have all sorts of beautiful visions; if someone would call me I'd stand up immediatly, feeling completely refreshed and lucid, while half second before that I wasin this relatively deep kind of trance.
Btw, you know when you are falling asleep and your thoughts get disconnected and quite nonsensical? If you keep awareness going, that's pretty much the place you end up into.
However, at one point I talked to a monkwho told me that that state was too much torpor-oriented and not conducive to good meditation, so I stopped doing that immediatly, though I was really enjoying that. This wastwo years ago.

In these days, when I happen to do something like that, the procedure is much less structured, and it's like "Lie down, tuning into a sense of heaviness, making the breath go up&down throught the body, tuning into whatever feels like a deeper state of trance".

No still awareness, quite a lot of sensations of heaviness moving throught the body, sometimes with the breath, changing intensity, shape&so forth; no particular mental images going on in this period, and this way of experiencing the process of falling asleep is for sure hightly conditioned by a lot of time spent training in vipassana and energy practices. I have no doubt that if I would focus on thoughts, I'd end up having visions again.

I also noticed that the activity of noticing things, (knowing what's going on) is very much related to the third eye* ), while when you are falling asleep energies tend to slip into to the heart**, the third eye gets deactivated, so there is this place where you are somehow still experiencing things but not really knowing what is happening and, according to my observations, that seems to be obviously the reason you don't know when you are falling asleep just before losing awareness, because the third eye is shutting down, so the activity of knowing what is happening doesn't have energy to function. So, if you are interested in these things, a tip would probably be to put attention to the heart when you want to go deeper,and putting attention to the third eye when you are deep and you don't want to lose consciousness. Or, you can do that by being intuitively aware of the sensations that are going on throught the body (or your mind), like if you wanted to note them Mahasi-way, but you keep sistematically doing the mental act of knowing what's going on without creating the label (that si because the label activates the throath, while you are trying not to fall asleep you want to constantly knowing what is going on in order to keep a steady flow of energy to the third eye)...this for me is working very nicely when I try to keep awareness going when I'm falling asleep, wich I don't do a lot because I'm having very paniful stuff going on in this period, and if I menage to just get asleep that's basically all I want right now.

Also, there is a place where the energy body seems to be loosening his connection with the physical body, so I end up experiencing falling, rotating, and stuff like that, and this happens expecially if you go with the heaviness flowing throught the body (if yougo with the thoughts you end up having visions), and that's, according to what I red on the subject, the state where you want to be in in order to begin the process of coming out of the body, thought I never really tried that.

That's pretty much all that comes to mind... good luck!

*wich, btw, explains very nicely why the Buddha was saying all the time "the monk, having established sati in his forefront..."

**wich I think is related to why the orgasm tend to knock you out, because after that there is a massive heart activity, and possibly is also related to why the old texts say that the one who practice metta sleeps well
Mike H, modified 10 Years ago at 9/21/13 8:10 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 9/21/13 8:10 AM

RE: reverse engineering "yoga nidra"

Posts: 72 Join Date: 1/4/13 Recent Posts
I have similar expereiences of what must be the alpha stages of yoga nira. Not sure though, it sounds like you jnow a bit more about the practice. Hope your situation improves though! I am not going to pry.

also, I realized my original post was sort of attacking a strawman (what I saw as mainstream yoga nidra). This was somewhat unnecessary since there are some resources that are much clearer about learning this as a skill over time.