Yoga Nidra for Health and Spirituality

Dr. R. S. Eswar Reddy, Alternative Medicine Specialist, Andhra Pradesh, India

Yoga nidra and health: tapping the subconscious mind

As an ardent devotee of Ma Saraswati, I believe more in providing knowledge and wisdom to the health seekers so that they may have a holistic understanding of health and disease. During consultation I advise a healthy diet and lifestyle along with an ayurvedic prescription. However, most of the patients take health know­ledge on a conscious level only and come back after a few months with the same chronic disease such as asthma and kidney stones. As Swami Satyananda's yoga nidra makes it easy to access the subconscious mind to seed or implant practical health and wisdom, I advise my patients to attend one course of yoga and yoga nidra. For this purpose I use sankalpa or resolve in the given models.

Health is wealth, without it all other achievements are meaningless, so I sincerely a practise healthy diet and healthy lifestyle. I am aware of the splendid work of my vital organs and body, and I provide it with healthy food and follow a healthy lifestyle to regain lost health from the deeper levels.

Healthy wisdom visualizations

After rotating the consciousness with systematic awareness of body parts, one takes the seeker further into his pranic body with breath awareness. These instructions are given slowly and elaborately, but here I will present them briefly:

With every breath, you are taking plenty of oxygen into the lungs, and from here sending it to every cell, tissue and organ. Feel the breath as pranic energy that is energizing and healing every cell, tissue and organ of the body. It is purifying, energizing and rejuvenating the whole body. Feel this divine, soothing moonlight-like energy slowly purifying and revitalizing the body from the hands and fingers to the toes, and from toes to top of the head. Repeat two or three rounds. As all impurities and the root cause of disease are removed you feel perfectly healthy, light and rejuvenated.

Natural living

You are walking in the forest. There you see trees, plants, grass, flowers, dancing peacocks, running rabbits, flying doves, beautiful butterflies, busy ants and squirrels; feel the cool breeze, smell the fragrance of different aromatic flowers, hear the chirping of birds. You are near a pond with lotus flowers and fish moving hither and thither. All these living beings are quite active, healthy and happy, just because they are living natural, spontaneous, heartfelt lives. They do not have hypertension, diabetes, asthma, heart problems, vision problems and other psychosomatic disorders. Compare their diet and lifestyle with humans, ponder over it. Life is simple, and nature is our divine mother; understand her, respect her, love her, be part of nature, live in her lap, taste real happiness, contentment, harmony, peace, tranquility and bliss.

Life donors

You are strolling in a wheatfield. It is food that nourishes and makes us live. We survive from what grows from Mother Nature's womb: grains, cereals, fruits, nuts, vegetables. While taking food, say thanks to farmers and to all the persons and materials involved in producing your food and bless them. We cannot survive without oxygen even for a minute, and this life-saving oxygen comes from the kingdom of plants, so spare one minute per day to say thanks to nature and the plant kingdom.

Super Centenarians

You are in the hilly area at sunset with tribal people sitting near a campfire. They are dancing and singing together wholeheartedly. Slowly the full moon rises up in the sky in all its splendour. The natural beauty and their happiness are beyond the reach of so-called modern and civilized people. After they rejoice, they sit together and eat after offering prayers to the five elements and Supreme Power. They eat natural food with a lot of reverence and gratitude to the food. Some of these people are Super Centenarians, and the secret of their long life is simplicity, humility, gratitude, love, harmony, service and whole-hearted behaviour with a natural diet.

Changing mind set

Most people give maximum priority to education and financial aspects of life, but there are many more aspects of life: family relations, health of body and mind, social behaviour, professional progress, cultural activities, personal hobbies and the devotional and spiritual quest. Balancing all these aspects of life according to situations and needs is real yoga. When we grossly neglect the health aspect, the body reacts with some chronic disease.

The health seeker must acquire knowledge about the wonderful functions of the vital organs and the root causes of diseases. He must understand the need for positive thinking, yoga and meditation, a sattwic diet and nutrition. He has to avoid the company of smokers, excess eaters, drunkards, junk-food eaters, negative thinkers, and so on. He should be in the company of positive, healthy and spiritual persons and try to follow their lifestyle. Occasionally staying in spiritual ashrams like the Bihar School of Yoga is a sure way towards transformation.

Spiritual yoga nidra

In this way we are identifying with divine consciousness, not with the five koshas. What are we, really? Are we just flesh, organs, bones and mind?

The five sheaths that encase the jivatma, or individual, personal soul, can be compared with the skin of an onion. The deeper self is apparently something else. The body, thoughts, emotions and intellectual knowledge are merely skins that cover the core of our existence. When we identify with body and mind we are limited in time and space. In spiritual reality we are divine beings with human experiences. Though in sleep or dreams we are experiencing beyond the body and senses, the moment we wake up we are again identifying with our body and mind only. Persons with predominant gunas of tamas, inertia and ignorance, and rajas, restlessness and ego involvement, cannot understand deeper and subtle meanings of spiritual aspects. As we improve and gain more and more qualities of sattwa, harmony and balance, we understand the five elements, the three gunas, the five koshas, the six chakras, the deeper meaning of the Bhagavad Gita, Viveka Chudamani, Ashtavakra Gita, Upanishads, and the sacred teachings of rishis, saints, bhaktas and sadgurus.

Move from karma to dharma

We are more involved in selfish karma with a lot of expectation on the results. Yogavatar Sri Krishna advised selfless karma. We are divine beings who have taken a human body to evolve into higher beings, not to regress back to the animal level. Due to illusion or maya we behave as though we are born to enjoy by acquiring material things. In this comparative and competitive material life, we acquire negative karma which becomes sanchita, stored, and prarabdha, unavoidable, karma from the maladies of the present-day society, and we suffer in this vicious circle. Spirituality is the only solution for all the maladies of the present-day society.

When we know that only oneness exists, that each and every thing is part and parcel of this oneness, and when we can tap into the inner happiness, then where is the scope for kama, desire; krodha, anger; lobha, greed; moha, infatuation; mada, pride; and matsarya, jealousy? I want to imbibe the wisdom of saints and sages; the wisdom that we are divine beings, sat-chit-ananda swarupa, the very form of truth, auspiciousness and bliss, through yoga nidra. Once we go beyond the five koshas with the predominance of a sattwic nature, we are sure to be a part of bliss which is incomparable with material happiness. The easiest way to evolve from lower chakras to higher chakras is to serve, love and give. With this attitude, our ego dissolves slowly but surely, and the ever-existing inner light shines forth. One of the best ashrams for this transformation is the Bihar School of Yoga.

Spiritual visualization: divine jyoti

You are in a forest, under a waterfall. Your head and entire body is drenched in water, you are singing and dancing, ventilating many suppressed feelings and emotions. Then you take a sunbath and enter into a spiritual ashram, where you find paintings of Ganesha, Sita-Rama, Hanuman, Krishna, Ma Durga, Ma Lakshmi, Swami Satyananda, and so on. The akkanda jyoti is illuminating the entire hall where you are together with divinity. There is an air of sanctity, with the melodious, vibrating primordial sound of Omkara, the fragrance of sandal sticks and dhoopam making you more devotional. Some disciples and spiritual seekers are meditating. You are transfixed with these spiritual surroundings and spontaneously sit for meditation.

As you are going deeper and deeper into your being, you go beyond the five sheaths and you find a tiny divine light, your atmajyoti or jivatma, shining. Now you see a sparkling ray of divine light coming from the akhanda jyoti, the Paramatma, the Cosmic Soul, transmitting more divinity into your jivatma. With this transmission, the tiny jivatma is brightening and expanding slowly but steadily into anandamaya, vijnanamaya, manomaya, pranamaya and annamaya koshas. All your five sheaths are overflowing with divine energy. As the koshas are now purified, you are nothing but divinity. You are fully identified with your divine nature; every cell and atom of you is reverberating with bliss. You are listening to the divine unstruck sounds of anahata chakra. You are experiencing satchitananda. As a divine being, you are light only. You are seeing everything around you as divine light, all other devotees, the paintings of gods and saints, the walls, the chairs, the floor, everything is appearing as sparkling divine light. They have all lost their physical appearances. What a splendid experience it is, and with thanks and gratitude you come out from this Jyoti Mandir just as light in human shape. You are still in the trance of divinity; you are nothing but pure bliss.

Babaji's cave

You are in the foothills of the sacred Himalayas as part of a spiritual quest. The Himalayas themselves are the abode of many rishis, saints and sadgurus from time immemorial. Kailash Mansarovar is one of the most sacred places on this planet. It is the abode of Lord Shiva and Parvati. You are trekking from Kukuchina to reach the cave where Mahavatar Babaji once meditated. Babaji is living, but gives darshan with his physical body only to those he likes. With all devotion and reverence to Babaji, you enter into this sacred cave, you are listening to the unstruck divine sounds of anahata chakra. You sit with closed eyes, and you are experiencing the immense harmony, peace, tranquility and bliss in this sacred cave. You are visualizing Babaji in the form of divine light, that light is entering into every cell and atom of you everywhere!

Experience of yoga nidra

Most of the people who attend these suggested classes of yoga nidra have changed to a healthy diet and lifestyle. For the first time they came to know the invaluable work of the vital organs. Some started to keep their hands on the heart daily to listen to the heartbeat and say thanks for its life-saving service. They reduced or stopped smoking and consumption of alcohol, soft drinks, junk and non-vegetarian food. They ate more vegetables, fruits and nuts. Through print and electronic media they improved their knowledge and understanding of health and disease.

Patients with diabetes, hypertension, asthma and other chronic diseases are opting for yoga, naturopathy, ayurveda, Unani, homeopathy, and other natural therapies instead of solely depending on allopathic medicine.

Yoga nidra provided maximum benefits to psychosomatic diseases. Even cancer patients experience relief from fear of imminent death as they came to know that they are divine beings. Many cancer patients went into deep hypnagogic states within minutes of overcoming the pain of cancer. Certainly the life span is extended qualitatively and quantitatively. Many of them come to natural picnic spots on Sundays to rejoice in the lap of Mother Nature. We conduct moonlight picnics also to feel and experience the divine grandeur and splendour. Many people experience peace and tranquility

During creative visualizations they had deep inner peace, and the experience of an energized body or lightness of the body. Some felt that they could not talk after yoga nidra as they had gone deeper into subtle koshas, and some told me there was no disturbance of thoughts during yoga nidra. For many patients yoga nidra paved the way to join some spiritual institution like Yogoda Satsanga Society, Chinmaya Mission, Ramakrishna Mission, and others.

Yoga and ayurveda

Both yoga and ayurveda have their roots in the Vedas and are interlinked in health and healing. Swarna bhasma, gold ash, or its combination with ayurvedic medicine works wonders – this is my own experience and that of Dr. Prasad Rao, who received a gold medal in the Commonwealth Games for power lifting at the age of sixty, won with help of the yoga of Sage Patanjali and ayurveda. Therefore, my humble request to Swami Niranjanji is to integrate ayurveda into yoga therapy so that many people benefit without the side effects of allopathic medicines.

My thanks and pranams to each and every one and everything – they are all manifested divinity in various forms.

—Workshop, 23 October 2013, Ganga Darshan, Munger