We need Yoga today because, although we are able to harness the potential, the energy of Nature, we have not been able to harness the potential of the mind. It is in this contest that Yoga comes forward and says, "Within you there is a dormant power, within you there is a dormant energy, within you there is a dormant consciousness which has to be awakened and experienced".
In order to understand this, first we have to try to understand our own life and the situations of life, because I am sure that nobody wants to renounce the world in order to experience the potential of the mind- We realise that we have to live in the world following our individual pursuits, whether they be of a householder, businessman, Sannyasi or politician, and we all need to develop certain faculties, certain, qualities which can allow the free expression of our personality.
We have heard about Yoga, the physical practices of Yoga, the mental practices of Yoga, but at the same time we should not forget about the utility of this science in our day to day life.
If there is an imbalance in either of the two forces of prana and chitta, then it will be the cause of physiological problems. All the practices of Yoga are geared to bring a balance in the activity of these two forces and the main practice, which brings about an immediate response of relaxation, tranquillity and revitalisation is a very simple technique known as Yoga Nidra. This practice is a must for every human being on this planet because it is a system through which we are able to develop a state of physic logical relaxation, a state of relaxation in our skeletal and muscular systems, the removal of stress and tension.
Today science recognises that there are four types of tension: muscular tension, nervous tension, emotional tension, and intellectual tension. It there is an increase in muscular and nervous tension within the body and brain, then our physical and mental performance will definitely slow down a great deal. We have all experienced at some time or the other the level of emotional and intellectual tension, and the kind of havoc it can play in our personality, how it can shape the expression of our mind and behaviour. Tension can transform the pattern of one's mind, the expression of one's mind from a state of relaxation to a state of high anxiety. The practice of Yoga Nidra can eliminate this stress.
We have tried the practice of Yoga Nidra in many of the psychosomatic illnesses instead of asanas and pranayamas, and we have found that it is helpful in many cases of psychosomatic illness such as asthma, hypertension and some cases of diabetes, even up to the extent of eliminating the illness. Why? The reason is very simple: once you attain physiological relaxation the imbalances in the various internal organs of the body go away. The condition of stress, the condition of tension is eliminated, and at that moment the internal organs of the body begin to work in a systematic way. The endocrinal gland system begins to work efficiently and effectively. The respiratory and cardiac systems begin to work in a balanced way through the achievement of harmony and balance in the system. This affects the brain which in turn affects the nervous system, the endocrinal gland system etc.
I can definitely cite many cases of asthma which have been helped without the practice of asanas. One of our own sannyasin doctors from Australia used to suffer from asthma. He tried every asana, every pranayama, every medication available to medical science and was unable to get rid of his asthma. Our Guruji, Swami Satyananda told him he should practice Yoga Nidra and meditation, and while he was practising Yoga Nidra he had a vision of an event that took place when he was five years old. When he re-experienced that suppressed memory he realised that had been the cause of the tension or suppression which in turn was the cause of his asthma.
Since it was not physiological in nature, no asana, no pranayama could help him, and no medication could help him either. Since the day he had this vision, through which a samskara was released (this is what we call a samskara, a suppression causing a state of depression) he has not had a single attack of asthma.
Like this there are many cases of hypertension in which through a state of deep relaxation, when the body is in tune with the mind and the mind is in tune with the spirit, sufferers have automatically responded in. a positive way. There are some people who say that in Yoga Nidra the state of relaxation is so deep, so intense and so refreshing that you are able to fulfil the sleep of eight hours in a two-hour practice. So one hour of Yoga Nidra equals four hours of normal sleep, and you know, in my short span of life I have come across many people who work eighteen to twenty hours a day, continuously, without feeling any after-effect, without feeling any tiredness, without feeling any pain or sickness, and who sleep only for a couple of hours during the day. And mind you, they were not sadhus and sannyasins; they were just householders, who had a business, a family, problems and tensions.
If we can learn how to adapt and utilise this technique of Yoga Nidra in our day-to-day life I am sure that the horizons of our personality, the expression! and the potential of our personality will develop, because it is through this practice that we are able to harness the potential qualities of the mind. It is more important than pranayama, or Karma yoga, Bhakti yoga, Gyana yoga, Raja yoga, Kriya yoga, Kundalini yoga or Mantra yoga, because it is a practical thing which we can apply to our everyday life.
For Bhakti yoga we need time, for Karma yoga we need to develop a proper mental attitude, for Kriya yoga we need to have a proper place and time, for Raja yoga there has to be guidance, but for Yoga Nidra it only takes a. spontaneous process of becoming aware of one's inner nature, becoming aware of one's body and its requirements, one's mind and its requirements, and it is a spontaneous process once you have; learned it. You can also do it while you are in bed, but without going to sleep, because the body may rest but the mind will be active, and this is the state of Yoga Nidra.
This is just a glimpse into the practical and scientific aspect of Yoga. If Yoga were only for renunciates it would be useless. The fact is that it is for each and every individual because each and every individual needs to harness, develop and awaken the faculties of mind and nature.