Ahymsin Newsletter: Yoga is Samadhi
  AHYMSIN Newsletter, Issue - June 2013  

Dear Yoga Mentor, My Question Is…

Sometimes students write to or ask Swami Veda and other senior teachers in our tradition questions about practice.  When this happens, Swami Veda may answer the question himself or ask a senior teacher to do so, or if the question is asked directly to a senior teacher, the senior teacher will respond.  This is one such “Question and Answer,” or Q&A.


Yesterday my student asked me about the difference between yoga nidra and meditation. I'm afraid I could not give a full answer to this. Can you help me with this?


This question on yoga nidra is an important one and needs to be clarified for students so they do not become stuck in the subtle-body experiences of deep internal relaxation.

From Patañjali’s Yoga Sutras, we know Meditation to be Dhyana - the 7th step of the ashtanga-yoga [also called raja yoga], the 8-step ladder of yoga to reach samadhi. And Vyasa identifies ‘Yoga as Samadhi’. So all paths lead to this goal, Samadhi.

Following asana and pranayama, the two important steps are pratyahara (sense-withdrawal) and dharana (concentration).  In these steps, the practices, or kriyas, include deep internal relaxation, and the experience-identification with the subtle-sukshma body. Yoga Nidra or Yoga-Sleep are terms used for this experience. One no longer uses the senses as in the waking state and the subtle-objects of concentration are experienced like a dream-state that brings the mind' awareness to the deeper state of consciousness of sleepless-sleep or Yoga Nidra.

When one remains aware in this state or “awake", and remains the witness, this is meditation.  And when this state consciousness of meditation remains as unbroken (like pouring of oil) then the effortless experience is known as samadhi.

Deeper levels of samadhi return one's identity to the true Self, the source of consciousness, which is also known as Turiya or the 4th state, beyond waking, dreaming and deep sleep.

Yoga Nidra should be seen in this context as practices and experiences leading to meditation and samadhi.
So one can take the steps of ashtanga, or raja, yoga and use the subtle-body or Yoga Nidra practices along with meditation practices to experience this subtle level of consciousness leading to samadhi and moksha or enlightenment.

At each stage, a person may think they have reached the goal, so it is important for an experienced guide and teacher, like yourself, to encourage the student to continue practicing and experiencing subtler and subtler states of consciousness until Turiya and moksha is attained.

This should inspire you to keep deepening your experience so you have more and more to share with your students.

Know the practices, Deepen the experience, Master the methods, and Guide others to the point you are capable through your experience.

May the Masters of Yoga continue to guide you with their grace.

OM Tat Sat,
Swami Ritavan


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