Returning to the Womb with Yoga Nidra

The practice of yoga nidra is increasingly becoming more popular and valuable, especially given the present state of the world, as it can create an oasis from which we may drink to replenish the human consciousness – from a place of deep relaxation.
Yoga Nidra is often described as “psychic sleep” or “yogic sleep”, but it is so much more than that. Though it was popularised and disseminated extensively by Swami Satyananda Saraswati and later Swami Rama and others.. it has it’s roots in ancient Tantric practices like Nyasa – which literally means to ‘locate divinity within one’s own body’.
‘Nidrā’ translates to sleep but it can also be read as ‘Ni- the void, and ‘dru’ – to reveal. The concept of the void which has been the subject to endless texts, works and literature by mystics, spiritualists, poets, artists and philosophers. The practice guides us towards this void, which is said to be empty and full at the same time. One can draw from it and bring the qualities of creativity, peace, harmony and stillness into our lives or one can surrender to it without fear, and there, find liberation by knowing one’s true Nature – the true purpose of the spiritual path. A real journey back to the womb, which is not separate from the Heart.


It is mentioned in texts like The Devi Mahatmya 5th-6th Century, Hatha Yoga Pradipika – 15th Century, Yoga Taravali – 14th Century. In the Mandukya Upanishad, one finds descriptions about the three states of mind – waking, dreaming, sleeping and the fourth state known as Turiya. One voyages through these states during the practice but while there is mention of yoga nidra, there is actually very little documentation of the actual details of the practice itself.


The reason for this can be attributed to the ancient and mostly oral Indian system of imparting knowledge – Gurukul, where knowledge is only revealed to the student who is ready to receive, and once imparted, is put to practice, not talked about. Knowledge was often closely guarded to protect both the subject from falling into incapable hands as well as for protecting the student from erroneous practice. I think this highlights the difference between the occidental and the oriental mind, I use the terms occidental and oriental for convenience but to be clear, both types of minds exist in both the cultures. It is not dictated by geographical location but is an approach to life. The latter is more patient and comfortable with ambiguity and not knowing and values discovery. Most eastern wisdom and knowledge systems can only truly be accessed through emphasis on embodiment and experience, not simply through discussion and debate.

I myself am not a certified teacher of yoga nidra, neither do I believe that it is something that can be learnt through a teacher training certification, as with meditation or a complete practice of yoga. The practice is the teacher, these teachings reveal themselves slowly and with consistent practice. As such, a teacher must commit to being a lifelong student.
Yoga Nidra is a technique that can lead us into deep relaxation yes, but more than that it is a state of consciousness which cannot be reached without divine grace.
Since I guided my first savasana in 2009, I felt that there was ‘something’ there. Though I didn’t work from any prepared script, words flowed out of me and guided the students to places that I wasn’t quite sure I knew myself. Ihad a sense of being perfectly aligned and truly in my element in those moments. Since then I have read, researched and practiced.. and found my teachers in my hatha yoga practice, pranayama, meditation and in nature; all of which come back to inform my yoga nidra practice and teaching.

Since I returned to India from Spain, I have been tracing back and establishing myself in my roots. I come from Assam, a state in northeastern India where Shaktism is very present and I follow a lineage of Shakti worshippers through both my paternal and maternal grandmothers and great grandmothers. As I assumed my place on this Goddess path, I found my practices taking on new layers of meaning and understanding. It was therefore very interesting for me to find Yoganidra mentioned in the Devi Mahatmya as an aspect of The Divine Mother – Yoganidra the Goddess of sleep who engulfs the preserver – Lord Vishnu in deep repose between the cosmic cycles of creation and destruction. She is the aspect of The Divine Mother without whose grace, even the Gods cannot function, without whose grace nobody can ‘awaken’ either.

The Devi Suktam in its praise of the Divine Mother sings of this very attribute:

“Yādevi sarvabhūteṣū nidrārūpeṇa saṃsthitā
namastasyai, namastasyai, namastasyai, namonamaḥ.”

—- We bow to the Divine Mother who exists in all beings as sleep,
We bow to Her, we bow to Her and we continually bow to Her.

I find it a beautiful ritual to invoke The Mother (in her Universal form as well as our feminine bloodlines – those who came before us) before journeying into the practice of yoga nidra so that we may be guided into a deep rest that peels away the layers of ‘unknowing’ and awakens us to our true essence and potential.
The practice of yoga nidra connects us to the universal energy of the Divine Mother through the especially feminine aspects of nurturing, support, rejuvenation, receptivity and surrender. While one might argue much of these these can be achieved through meditation too.. the beauty of Yoga nidra, which is a complete system on its own is that it is soft and forgiving and can be practiced by anybody, irrespective of whether they can sit in a meditative posture or have a practice or not. It is a space of “softness” with moon like attributes, which, in the very least, brings rest that every being in this universe deserves.
As with many of the subtle practices, one starts with techniques and specifications, but as one progresses and deepens the practice, all techniques are dropped to surrender to flow and the ‘state’ is assumed effortlessly and spontaneously.

By Her grace, I hope we will all reach there someday.

Jai Guru Ma.

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The concept of Brahmacharya.

This post will make sense to those of you who have some insight into Yoga Philosophy.
Brahmacharya often translated as celibacy is one of the yamas(or observances/ code of conduct) of Patanjali’s Ashtanga or 8 limbed path of Yoga. Simply saying celibacy however doesn’t seem to do justice to what is being conveyed through the concept of Brahmacharya, and according to me it has some profound meaning behind it.
I think that a mismanagement or misunderstanding of Brahmacharya is what has caused many of the scandals that one hears about in the yoga world. Even apparently highly accomplished yogi’s managed to get stained, the reason is that it is a constant practice, no matter how highly accomplished one is in ones practice, there is always room to slip if we are not vigilant.

I personally do not believe in suppression and am a big advocate for complete expression. Does an insistence on a modest/prudish attire that gives away as little of the body as possible actually indicate an underlying fear of our incapability at self control guised under the label of respect? One must use one’s own inner compass and many things need to be taken into consideration and refined according to who we are and in line with our personality and stage of growth. Apart from that, one must consider what is the Ashrama or stage of life we are in? If we are in the Grihasta Ashrama, it means that we are in the stage of our lives where we are meant to create and procreate, create a family and live the worldly life.. but if in this stage we try to suppress our natural instincts, that’s where the problems start. Now some people can be naturally inclined towards Brahmacharya, so then it’s a not a problem at all because it is not forcefully induced.
The Tantric way, the definitely more difficult path which requires great strength of character and a highly developed practice appeals to me. It is not at all about turning away from one’s desires or suppressing them but confronting them, then holding the reins in one’s own hands.
Brahmacharya in both action and thought boils down to a strong command over our desires (certainly not limited to one’s sexual desire but any sensorial pleasure, like food, beverage etc.) so that one is not helpless in the face of our desires, but we come to them with purpose, understanding and an ability to deal with them as well as the added repercussions of having them fulfilled.
To an extent, Brahmacharya paves the path to Vairagya or non-attachment.

Can we smell the coffee brewing in the morning, appreciate the aroma thoroughly but not once think of drinking it?
Can we then one day decide to drink the coffee and have that experience add great joy and pleasure to that moment in our lives, but not be enslaved to a craving for a repeat of that pleasure the next day? Can we have just one bit of dessert or those salty chips then stop? Can we be apparently provocative if that is what our expression requires at that moment, but at the same time be free of temptation? Can we spend two months by ourselves in the countryside, reflecting on our true nature and have no sexual thoughts cross our mind? Upon our return to our beloved, can we then make love with such intensity and passion that the Gods themselves descend from the heavens to bow to the power of our sexual expression. Can we take time to understand what sexual union really is, beyond the surface? Can this sexual union then become a pathway to our spiritual awakening instead of becoming a sensory bondage that often brings with it emotional turmoil in the form of heartache, jealousy, insecurity, hurt from not having our love reciprocated or fear of losing our partner?

Can we love truly and then simply let go? Can we take responsibility for our desires and take care that no other is harmed, whether physically, emotionally or spiritually in our pursuit of them? Can we choose a partner and stop considering other options? Can we be so open minded and accepting of other peoples expression that nothing can scandalize us but at the same time be firmly established in our own values? Can we strongly desire getting that perfect handstand, and with equal ease give it no importance? Can we, for moments at a time forget whether we are a man or a woman and just be? Can we embrace that both the sexes exist within us?

And finally can we live this life fully and cherish completely the desire to live we wake up with everyday, but at the same time be ready to die any moment?

Patanjali says in Sadhana Padah
2.38 || Brahmacarya pratisthayam virya labah||
Upon the establishment of Brahmacharya, power is attained.

I am not claiming to be accomplished myself, but I am on the path and at the start of the realisation of all the things that this concept stands for and how it can lead to clarity and contentment.

Much Love,
T

Weeping willow

tara-goswami-weeping-willow

For years, we lived in her majestic presence.

Gracefully she would sway in the breeze and allow secrets to ripple through her hair, making music as through a harp.

She listened quietly to our dreams as we stared at the sunlight streaming through.

And when the storms came, she stood strong and bravely took on the lashes from the forces. The next morning she would stand bruised but tall, and so she reminded us of the inevitable ways of nature.. having faced the onslaught so courageously, she emerged more beautiful still.

When disease came over her, she did not complain, having stood all her life, she gently lay down one fine day, to her final rest.
Leaving behind a mark and many quiet lessons in our lives, that would remain forever.

Weeping Willow.

Sauce Lloron.














Returning to the Womb with Yoga Nidra

The practice of yoga nidra is increasingly becoming more popular and valuable, especially given the present state of the world, as it can create an oasis from which we may drink to replenish the human consciousness – from a place of deep relaxation.Yoga Nidra is often described as “psychic sleep” or “yogic sleep”, but it […]

The concept of Brahmacharya.

This post will make sense to those of you who have some insight into Yoga Philosophy.Brahmacharya often translated as celibacy is one of the yamas(or observances/ code of conduct) of Patanjali’s Ashtanga or 8 limbed path of Yoga. Simply saying celibacy however doesn’t seem to do justice to what is being conveyed through the concept […]