Yoga nidra : the flowering within

Yoga nidra : the flowering within

Yoga Nidra, the concept, is adopted from the ancient science of Tantra. It is a powerful practice for achieving deep relaxation while being conscious and aware. Nidra as a word stands for sleep, but the application here is totally different from what we generally understand sleep as. To understand this we need to log onto some basic insight into the different states of consciousness as explained in the yogic system.

There are three states in which our consciousness keep oscillating at regular intervals, through the agency of mind. These intervals are predetermined most of the times which is referred as the Bio Rhythms.

  1. Jaagrut awastha or normal wakeful state (conscious): This is outer most dimension in which consciousness is in contact with the external material dimension through the agency of sensory organs. We have five sensory organs viz. sight, smell, audition, taste and touch. This is where most of worldly communications takes place. Consciousness exists in an extroverted state relying on sensory organs to relay the information from surroundings.
  2. Swapna awastha or dream state (sub conscious): This is a totally different dimension where consciousness experiences a reality in forms of dreams.
  3. Sushupti awashta or deep sleep (unconscious): State of deep sleep when even dreams don’t appear to the consciousness and an absolute state is experienced which is mostly untraceable by common mind.

While we enter into ordinary sleep, the consciousness drifts from conscious plane to other two without an awareness of this transition. In yoga nidra, we train our mind to retain the awareness not just of this transition but of the actual experience it receives while being in each state.

yoga-nidra-yoga-in-rishikesh

During the practice, consciousness moves to a threshold state between sleep and wakefulness, thereby connecting with the sub conscious and unconscious dimensions.

This awareness is the actual scientific definition of relaxation which is in contrast to popular beliefs. As we generally observe by relaxation we often mean lying on a couch, having a cup of coffee or a drink or reading our favorite author or genre. All these are simply sensory diversions that change the direction in which our sense organs are engaged. They have very less to do with actual relaxation that occurs only when we are aware and unattached; in this reference it’s better to say un-indulged.

The matrix of Tension

Action, in general, leads to tension. This is natural physics. Two forces operating simultaneously at the same time will create tension. As we go through doing small and big things in life with body, mind or heart, we produce tension. And that tension operates on us. Whatever we do as part of routine, from eating to sleeping, to walking to running to catching a train to managing projects at work, each activity results in tension. These tensions are stored at several planes of our personality.

yoga-nidraThese accumulated tensions manifest in several form via our psyche. Imbalances, disorders and conflicts within an individual or societies or nations.

Yoga straightforwardly identifies these tensions at the source of suffering.  We are not aware of them directly and only see their symptoms. This condition is known as Klesha in Yoga and they are the root of all human problems. Avidya or ignorance is where they all are rooted. This ignorance is the realm of our personalities about which we are not really aware of.

We can categorize three basic types of tension:

  1. Muscular
  2. Emotional
  3. Mental

Yoga Nidra is an effective method of achieving physical, emotional and mental rest and release. It’s a systematic tool of transiting between different states of consciousness. This has got powerful and profound impacts on the overall personality. We are able to let go of stored tensions, burn sanskaras or to say break older habitual conditioning in order to have a fresh and conscious experience overall. It also increases the receptivity of mind and thus enhances learning and gaining knowledge.

Creativity and Sankalp

Also it allows for a creative expression of our mind as it get free from fears, phobias and several neurosis. This helps in concentrating the energy of mind and giving it a channeled expression. Opting for a resolution or Sankalp, during the practise provides for that channeling of the energy. This Sankalp is a very positive and virtuous idea that you might be aspired towards having as a part of you. It is chosen and repeated constantly each time you practise until it is realized.

Psychological Correlates

Our brain emits different types of wave patterns while we drift from one state of mind to the other. Mapping these waves through specific instruments has been a milestone in the studies conducted in several places. This has made more and more scientific brains interested and attracted towards exploring and researching the probable implications of Yoga Nidra as a tool to overcome several issues that modern civilization is struggling with.

The table below shows a scientific explanatory values for the states of consciousness and the values for brain waves emitted in each of these states. Also mentioned is the correlated field of experiencing with each state.

No. State of consciousness Psychological name Brainwave pattern Experience
1 Awake Conscious mind Beta

(13-20 cps)

Sensory awareness, external knowledge
2 Yoga Nidra Border line between awake and sleep Alpha

(8-12 cps)

Deep relaxation, conscious dreaming
3 Dreaming sleeping Subconscious mind Theta

(4 – 7 cps)

Release of emotions, fears and desires
4 Deep sleep Unconscious mind Delta

(0-4 cps)

Awakening of instincts and primitive drives

The popular format of Yoga Nidra was designed by Shri Swami Satyananda Saraswti, the founder of one of the most authentic and popular institution of yoga study in our times called Bihar School of Yoga. He was a realized yogi who reformed many concepts and principles of yoga so as to be understood by the modern mind easily.

For more information on the technique and practise of yoga nidra, we will soon publish another post with further details.

Kind regards
Acharya vinay

Yogvritti : Mudras in Yoga(Vol-1)

Yogvritti : Mudras in Yoga(Vol-1)

Mudra means ‘gesture of hands which comprises of the four fingers and a thumb’. The four fingers and the thumb represent the five cardinal elements viz. fire, water, ether, earth and air. They form variegated poses or mudras by mingling with each other.

Every finger represents a particular element and when they combine with others they form different mudras. There are umpteen numbers of mudras and each mudra has a different effect on our body.

Our body is also composed of the five cardinal elements and therefore when we join any finger with the thumb or any two or more than two fingers with the thumb they form different mudras owing to the salutary effect of various mudras on our body and its prophylactic disposition. Hatha Yoga uses it extensively for curing and alleviating various ailment, infirmities and malady.

Mudras play a vital role in awakening the ‘Kundalini’ which means abeyant primal feminine energy believed to lie coiled at the base of the spine. It is believed that a female goddess or dormant serpent lies inside the human body in winded or coiled form. The real purpose of any mudra is to awaken the latent energy for attaining the eternal bliss and enlightenment. A Sanskrit adage caps it all about the importance of Mudras.

yogvritti-kundalini-mudra

“Nasti mudra samam kinchit siddhidam kshitimandale” which means there is nothing in this world like mudras for conferring upon us the real success in our spiritual journey.

Real success in our journey of spiritual illumination comes with persistent Endeavor and dogged perseverance conscientiously. “Rome was not built in a day” this adage/say speaks volumes about the importance of persistence, perseverance and unflagging Endeavor for reaching the acme of perfection.

The Chinese proverb aptly says, “A journey of thousand miles begins with a step” which means here that ultimate goal of self illumination or self realization can be ultimately reached by practicing the general postures and specialized mudras or gestures in a conscientious manner.

Mudras are thus a stepping stone for erecting a grand edifice of spiritual illumination. It is a pivot around which our success in spiritual awakening revolves.

Hari Om Tatsat

YogVritti : Understanding Panchtatva the Elemental Proportions of Prakriti

YogVritti : Understanding Panchtatva the Elemental Proportions of Prakriti

Ayurveda and yoga are based on the principle of the five cardinal elements. These five elements are referred to as Panchmahabhuts in Ayurveda or the tatvas in Yoga. ‘Panch’ means five and ‘Mahabhuts’ and ‘Tatvas’ are Sanskrit words which means ‘element’ or ‘reality’.

Introduction to Panch Tatvas

Panch means five and tatvas mean elements. Panchtatva connotes the five elements i.e. Ether (Akash), Wind (Vayu), Fire (Agni), Water (Jal) and Earth (Prithvi). These five elements form the warp and woof of the entire cosmos.

They are the bedrock or underpinning of the mundane material world. All the animate and non animate entities are composed of the five cardinal elements.

Every single object and being in the cosmos embodies a diverse spectrum and fusion of five elements giving it an unparalleled entity. The five cardinal/principal elements are present in varying proportions and different composition. They are not detected in pure form. All the substances of versatile and kaleidoscopic nature possess variegated admixture of different elements.

The panchtatvas symbolizes the physical qualities, energetic properties and biological functions related to the given element. The density of the fire cardinal elements is in the following order-

Earth> Water> Fire> Air> sky> Space

The five cardinal elements are a part and parcel of the all encompassing cosmic consciousness. Ether/Sky/Space is the most subtle element amongst all the five elements and has its inception from the consciousness itself, even though less etherent than consciousness or spirit.

Akin to it, air has its roots in ether and is less subtle and pervasive than it. Fire originates from air and is denser than air. Water has its inception from fire and is denser than fire. Earth has its origin from water and is the densest of the five elements.

Every animate and inanimate being is made up of atoms and the five tatvas can be explained with the example of an atom.
Akash (space component) is the space which the elementary particles like protons occupy as well as the space in which the electrons revolve.

Vayu (air component) represents the force of movement of the electrons around the nucleus.

Agni (fire component) represents the latent (hidden) energy in an atom as well as the release energy when the atom is broken down.

Jal (water component) gives the force of cohesion that allows the protons, neutrons and electrons to remain attracted towards each other.

Prithvi (Earth component) contributes the solid portion of the atom (i.e. the electrons, protons and neutrons).

THE FIVE CARDINAL ELEMENTS IN CONTEXT OF HEALTH

panchtatva-pic1Our body is made up of the five cardinal elements and so is everything that we consume. All the natural substances like foods, herbs, minerals, sunlight, air and water are of the same constitution as our own framework. Consequently our body can avail them in a harmonious manner. The panchtatva concept can be applied to sustain health and augment healing. In a sound body, the five cardinal elements are maintained in a particular proportion. When the state of the body is not in tune with the nature and natural surroundings, the body will try to maintain its balance by omitting redundant elements and impel others.

All the malfunctions of the body are revealed as a result of the disharmony in the equilibrium of the body’s components. Besides the five cardinal elements and humans consists of eleven indriyas. The indriyas comprises of the five sense organs (ears, skin, eyes, tongue and nose) and the five organs of action (vocal cords, hands, feet, genitals and anus) and the mind. The senses are the subtle elements designated as tanmatras. The five cardinal elements become more evident in the functioning of the five senses (hearing, touch, sight, taste and smell). Each sense organ is unique and associated with a particular quality (e.g. our eyes see, ears hear, nose smell tongue tastes and skin senses). The five cardinal elements function with the five sense organs permitting us to comprehend the physical world through the senses. Since we perceive reality by these five sense organs they are referred to as jnanendriyas from the word jyana means ‘knowledge’ in Sanskrit. Each of the five cardinal elements is also related to a primary organ of action permitting the body to respond to the input of the five senses. These five organs are named as karmendriyas from the Sanskrit word meaning ‘Action’.

The five lower chakras- Muladhar, Svndhistana, Manipura, Anahata and Vishuddha are synchronized to the energy flow of the five elements and thus also have a relation with the tanmatra and indriyas associated with each other.

The first element or mahabhuta is space/ether (Akash).

Its role in existence is space-

It is related to the sense of hearing or sound (shabd). It corresponds to the ear as jnanendriya and vocals/ mouth as the karmendriya. It is associated with vishudda chakra. The second mahabhuta is Air/wind (pawan/vayu) its role in existence is movement. It is related to the sense of touch (sparsh). It corresponds to skin as jnanedriya and hands as karmendriya. It is related to Anahata Chakra.

The third mahabhuta is fire (Agni/Tejas). Its role in existence is energy. It is related to the sense of sight (Rupa). It corresponds to the eyes as jyanendriya and feet as karmendriya. It is related to Manipur chakra. The fourth mahabhuta is water (jal/apas). Its role in existence is the force of attraction. It is related with the sense of taste (rasa). It corresponds to the tongue as jnanendriya and grnitals as karmendriya. It is associated with Swadhisthana chakra. The fifth mahabhuta is Earth (prithvi/ bhumi). Its role in existence is solidity. It is related with the sense of smell (gandha). It corresponds to the nose as jnanendriya and anus as the karmendriya. It is associated with Muladhara chakra.

Bhakti: A perennial flow of love | Bhakti Yoga

Bhakti: A perennial flow of love | Bhakti Yoga

Bhakti means uninterrupted, unremitting and perennial flow of unalloyed love, devotion and adoration for one’s chosen Ideal (Ishtam) (The GODHEAD).

Yoga means the communion of the microcosm (atma/soul) with the macrocosm (Paramatma/supreme soul) divine consciousness or simply the commingling of Atma with Paramatma. Bhakti yoga connotes the path of deep, intense and extreme love devotion and adoration for any definite SAGUNA form of one’s chosen Ideal/Godhead.

There are multifarious and variegated ways of reaching the ultimate reality. Karma Yoga, jnana Yoga, Raj Yoga and Bhakti Yoga are four cardinal modes of self actualization/self realization.

Bhakti Yoga is hailed as the easiest and best way to reach the absolute reality/ Providence. It requires complete surrendering of one’s own self at the altar of one’s chosen, Ideal/Ishtam. The five cardinal enemies of one’s self viz anger, delusion, envy, pride and lust have to be relinquished in to for suffusing oneself with the emotions of love, devotion and adoration.

bhakti-yoga2

Bhakti Yoga is the acme/apotheosis of intense love and sublimity. As the crystals of sugar get dissolved in water and lose its identity completely so is the Bhakta who completely gives up his pride, ego, hatred, ill will and self identity for one’s chosen ideal.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Kabir, Meera, Tulsidas, Raidas, Valmiki, Surdas, Narada and Shandilya are some of the pioneers and trailblazers of Bhakti Yoga.

They all were completely overwhelmed and suffused all over by the intense yearning, deep love, absolute devotion and consummate adoration for their chosen ideal/Ishtam/Godhead.

Love is the most noble and sublime of all virtues. A man sans love is akin to a fish sans water, a bird sans feathers and a plant sans flowers.

Bhakti yoga is the easiest, sublime and perhaps the best way of realizing one’s true self for commingling with the divinity while living in this perishable and mortal world.

Bhakti : A perennial flow of love | Bhakti Yoga

Bhakti : A perennial flow of love | Bhakti Yoga

Bhakti means uninterrupted, unremitting and perennial flow of unalloyed love, devotion and adoration for one’s chosen Ideal (Ishtam) (The GODHEAD).

Yoga means the communion of the microcosm (atma/soul) with the macrocosm (Paramatma/supreme soul) divine consciousness or simply the commingling of Atma with Paramatma. Bhakti yoga connotes the path of deep, intense and extreme love devotion and adoration for any definite SAGUNA form of one’s chosen Ideal/Godhead.

There are multifarious and variegated ways of reaching the ultimate reality. Karma Yoga, jnana Yoga, Raj Yoga and Bhakti Yoga are four cardinal modes of self actualization/self realization.

Bhakti Yoga is hailed as the easiest and best way to reach the absolute reality/ Providence. It requires complete surrendering of one’s own self at the altar of one’s chosen, Ideal/Ishtam. The five cardinal enemies of one’s self viz anger, delusion, envy, pride and lust have to be relinquished in to for suffusing oneself with the emotions of love, devotion and adoration.

bhakti-yoga2

Bhakti Yoga is the acme/apotheosis of intense love and sublimity. As the crystals of sugar get dissolved in water and lose its identity completely so is the Bhakta who completely gives up his pride, ego, hatred, ill will and self identity for one’s chosen ideal.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Kabir, Meera, Tulsidas, Raidas, Valmiki, Surdas, Narada and Shandilya are some of the pioneers and trailblazers of Bhakti Yoga.

They all were completely overwhelmed and suffused all over by the intense yearning, deep love, absolute devotion and consummate adoration for their chosen ideal/Ishtam/Godhead.

Love is the most noble and sublime of all virtues. A man sans love is akin to a fish sans water, a bird sans feathers and a plant sans flowers.

Bhakti yoga is the easiest, sublime and perhaps the best way of realizing one’s true self for commingling with the divinity while living in this perishable and mortal world.