We have tended to emphasize use of yoga nidra as a relaxation technique. We have also suggested that yoga nidra be utilized, if necessary, as a method of inducing sleep. Possibly this may give the impression that yoga nidra is a preliminary technique for beginners; but actually yoga nidra, if practised correctly, can lead directly to meditation. Yoga nidra is, in fact, a powerful meditative technique.
All meditative techniques are intended to induce pratyahara (sense withdrawal) as a preliminary to dharana (concentration). Yoga nidra does this very systematically; in fact, it is probably the most systematic of all meditative techniques. First of all the karmendriyas (organs of action) are put out of action: hands, feet, etc. Then most of the jnanendriyas (organs of sense knowledge) are put out of action; that is sight, taste and so on are blocked, leaving only perception of hearing and touch. Stimulation of the brain is drastically reduced. The field of perception and awareness is narrowed; the mind becomes very one-pointed and this leads to dharana.
At the stage of dharana one should fix awareness on a psychic symbol. This can be done at a suitable stage of yoga nidra. As concentration deepens, dharana is transformed into dhyana (meditation). One contacts the deeper layers of one’s being. One reaches the regions beyond the conflicting thoughts of the subconscious mind. One contacts the seat of superconsciousness, intuition, bliss and transcendental experience.
One advantage of yoga nidra over other meditative techniques is that it does not require the practitioner to sit in a difficult pose such as padmasana. One merely lies on the back throughout the practice. The disadvantage is that this comfortable position can veiy easily lead to sleep. In yoga nidra one does not fight the mind but systematically tranquillizes it. Attention is not fixed on one point as in many types of meditative techniques. Instead, one is asked to move attention from place to place in the body. At a certain stage the mind will automatically concentrate on one point.
In yoga nidra there are two general stages:
relaxation of the physical, emotional and mental planes; this corresponds to pratyahara and dharana.
2. Spontaneous meditation-, this is dhyana.
You can use yoga nidra for any purpose that you wish, whether relaxation, sleep or removal of personality problems. But remember: the highest purpose of yoga nidra is to bring the joy of meditation.