Yoga Sutra 1.10

 In Yoga Sutras

Yoga Sutra 1.10: अभाव प्रत्ययालम्बना तमोवृत्ति र्निद्र 


abhāva pratyayā ʻlaṁbanā vṛttir nidrā


Sleep occurs when psychic inertia is accompanied by cognition of nothingness.


  • अभाव abhāvanothingness, non-existence
  • प्रत्यया pratyayā – mental activity
  • आलम्बन alaṁbanā – supporting, sustaining
  • वृत्ति vṛtti – the effects of the thoughts on the mind/consciousness, modifications of the mind
  • निद्रा nidrā – sleep  

Nidrā is the Sanskrit word for Sleep and this sutra defines that Sleep occurs when our mental activity is moving towards the awareness of nothingness. We are already aware that Sleep is considered a vṛtti modifications of the mind.

We recognize sleep as a needed aspect of our lives. Even though we may not maintain the full awareness of what happens in our sleep our mind is still affected by the experience of sleeping or dreaming. Too little sleep and we don’t feel well. Too much sleep and we also don’t feel well. 

Did you know we already have a practice of observing the lingering effects of sleep in our cultures? In the mornings we often ask each other “how did you sleep?”  Sometimes we reply that our sleep was sound or restless, good or bad, great or ok. Our bodies remember what our mind may forget from our dreams and sleep. Sometimes we mentally remember we had a disturbing dream or a thrilling dream, a scary dream or a pleasant dream. Our mind may even remember a dream that is so real that it feels like it really happened to the point that we question which reality is the dream?

Yoga recognizes both a Dream State and a Deep Sleep State of consciousness. When we go to bed we are often not reaching a deep state of sleep for a prolonged period of time. Most of the hours spent in bed are in the Dream State. When the mind is still active just not on the same level of conscious awareness as the Waking State. Yoga states that we experience deep rejuvenation when the body and mind make their way into the Deep Sleep State of consciousness. Here the mind is less disturbed from external and internal stimuli. Allowing our active awareness to become passive.

As an individual expands their yoga practice the hope is that you will begin to find longer states of Deep Sleep Consciousness within your meditations and through your day as well as prolonged periods when going to bed. The mind will gravitate towards the passive. 


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