Day 10 of #yogasutrachallenge: YS 1.10 Abhava patyayalambana vrittir nidra My interpretation: Dreamless sleep is a state of mind consumed by absence You may be thinking, ‘if yoga’s all about stilling the mind, why not just go to sleep? Why don’t I reach enlightenment when I’m asleep, or do I, but maybe I just don’t realise it?’ Well, Patanjali’s answer, unintuitive as it might be, is that you’re not actually stilling your mind while you’re sleeping as sleep is another type of thought: absence. Aside from when you’re dreaming (which mostly involves memory and imagination), deep sleep is an inert state of consciousness in which the sense of existence is not felt. We saw on day 5 that in yoga, everything in the universe said to have one of the following qualities (gunas): rajas (passionate, energetic), tamas (inertia, disinterest), or sattva (balance). During this kind of sleep, the mind is smothered in the darkness of tamas, nothing else comes through. Our consciousness doesn’t “switch off”, but sees only this. In contrast, the idea is that when we experience enlightenment, the mind is fully awake, vibrantly lucid, yet with that same stillness as if we were in a deep sleep. The implication of all this being, if yoga involves stopping all the vrittis including sleep, it means starting to bring how we sleep and how much we sleep under our control. There have certainly been many reports of yogis that have managed to life with a very minimal amount of sleep although I, for one, am certainly not one of them.
Natalie shares her yoga life - attending yoga events, classes and workshops in London and around the world. The yoga world from the inside. Yoga philosophy - the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the Bhagavad Gita, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and much more.