- What Is Dream Yoga?
- What Are the Benefits of Dream Yoga?
- Practising Dream Yoga
- Tips for Beginners
- Going Deeper: Sleep Yoga
- Dream Yoga Resources
- A Few Words of Caution
- Relevant and Related Searches
What Is Dream Yoga?
The term dream yoga is starting to gain popularity, often popping up in discussions about lucid dreaming or spirituality that follows a Buddhist path. However, dream yoga is not the same thing as lucid dreaming, nor is it an activity restricted to members of a particular religion. Developed by Tibetan Buddhists, dream yoga is a practice that goes beyond mere lucid dreaming to increase your awareness in waking life.
Tibetan dream yoga allows you to train the mind within dreams and then apply the insights you gain to situations you face during the day. It is considered a way of using the time spent asleep more “productively” – from the point of view of consciousness – than simply tuning out and shutting down.
Dream yoga is sometimes considered another term for yoga nidra, but the two practices are different, though similar in some ways. Yoga nidra classes are increasingly being spotted at trendsetting yoga studios, with participants guided through 30-45 minute group sessions. After setting an intention and desire, they are guided into a deep state of conscious rest believed to be conducive to healing and self-discovery. It is not quite the same as being asleep.
Teachers of yoga nidra suggest that the separation between our dream state and waking life is perhaps more tenuous than we think, and that yoga nidra can help increase spiritual awareness (at the same time as being deeply relaxing). This idea is central to dream yoga, too.
What Are the Benefits of Dream Yoga?
The practice of dream yoga offers a number of benefits. Among others, these may include:
- Alleviation of nightmares
- Decreased stress and anxiety
- Boosted creativity
- Increased awareness and insight
- Increased attentiveness
The first benefit listed above – alleviation of nightmares – can be understood in a literal and metaphorical sense. People suffering from terrifying dreams may find relief as they become lucid and able to change the scenes and stories that play out in their heads at night. It may also become easier to transform some of the “nightmares” in our daily lives into more positive conscious visions.
Practitioners believe that dream yoga is a tool we can use to change our perspective on life and even death; a way of exploring the illusory nature of much of existence and going beyond the mind as we know it. It is seen as a means of transforming emotional states and conceptual limitations, and integrating lucidity and flexibility into day-to-day life.
Dream yoga provides a way to wake up – both in our nighttime visions and the spiritual sense. It is a life hack that allows us to potentially turn a third of our lives (the amount of time we spend asleep) into meditation – and have fun while we’re at it.
Practising Dream Yoga
The first step in practising dream yoga is cultivation of the ability to dream lucidly. And the first step in that process is setting the goal to do so – almost like adding a sticky note to your brain as a task reminder. Once you’ve committed to lucid dreaming, you’re on your way.
The idea of lucid dreaming is well known, and one whose allure has been explored in popular culture in the West. You’ll come across it in films like The Good Night, Waking Life and Vanilla Sky, as well as a number of books, songs and other creative endeavors. Lucid dreaming refers to a state where you are aware that you are dreaming, and may even be able to change aspects of your dream. For example, you might decide to go from walking to flying, or transform aspects of the environment.
Some people seem to be natural lucid dreamers, having had this sleep “superpower” for as long as they can remember. Others have to develop it consciously. Performing mental exercises during the day may help to build the ability. For example, doing multiple reality checks like flipping light switches, looking in mirrors, seeing whether your hands are normal and checking the time – all of which may be somewhat strange in dreams – can help train your brain to look for clues that what they are experiencing while asleep is not real.
Other exercises include:
- learning to identify classic signs of dreaming (like talking to the deceased, or visiting a recurrent fantasy landscape)
- keeping a dream journal to encourage better dream recall
- waking up a couple of hours earlier than usual, staying awake for 15 to 60 minutes, and then going back to sleep with the strong intention of waking up in your dreams and remembering them afterwards.
Some lucid dreamers also recommend taking supplements like galantamine and B-vitamins to boost the chances of lucidity, using accessories such as dream goggles that can detect rapid eye movement (REM) sleep (the stage of sleep when you are likely to be able to dream lucidly) and signal this to you, and various visualization practices. Mindfulness meditation is also thought to help with lucid dreaming ability. Things that can get in the way of lucid dreaming, however, include overstimulation before bed, as well as the use of illicit drugs.
Once you are able to dream lucidly, you can go beyond simply using your dreams as spaces to indulge fantasies. The next step is to try and practice dream yoga techniques that have transformative potential and allow you to better understand your own mind.
One such technique is to try and shift the objects you see in your dreams into different shapes. For example, if you see a table, you could try to change it into a flower, or a car into an airplane. Experts suggest that you might also try adding or subtracting objects, or playing with their size. You could also try to transform various situations that you encounter in your dreams. The idea is that doing this may help us to transform our negative emotions in daily life, realize our potential and challenge our perceived limitations.
Practitioners can also attempt to deliberately create scary dreams and then choose to stay with the fear and work through it, instead of trying to escape it. The idea is that this practice – by showing you that even nightmares are illusions – may prove a potent reminder that you do not need to be afraid of your own mind.
As they progress in their dream yoga practice, people may experience different types of dreams and explore a number of different techniques.
Tips for Beginners
Becoming adept at dream yoga may take quite a long time, so it is important to be patient with yourself as you practice. Remember that the key ingredient is clear, good intent. If you don’t have much success initially, keep at it. Record your dreams daily and stick to the practice. Try to become mindful during waking life too – and have a look at the dream yoga resources mentioned below.
Going Deeper: Sleep Yoga
Once you have mastered dream yoga, you might want to take it a step further and try sleep yoga – which is perhaps closer to the yoga nidra mentioned in the introduction. In sleep yoga, you retain conscious awareness while your body enters sleep mode. In other words, your mind is awake while your body is in a state of deep, restful sleep. It is considered to be an advanced type of meditation that takes you into the core of your being, with profound implications for spiritual growth. From there, you can also venture into bardo yoga, a practice to help prepare for the inevitability of death one day.
Dream Yoga Resources
There are a number of resources available for those wishing to try dream yoga. One of the key English-language books on the practice is Dream Yoga and the Practice of Natural Light. Another is Dream Yoga by Andrew Holecek. Courses, classes and workshops are sometimes offered in different parts of the globe, so it is advisable to search online for one of these events that may take place nearby or in the digital space.
A Few Words of Caution
- Before taking galantamine or other supplements, it is advisable to consult a medical practitioner – particularly if you have any health conditions or are currently on any kind of medication.
- If you have a psychiatric condition or struggle to discern reality from unreality, it is a good idea to talk to a medical practitioner before starting your dream yoga practice.
- Dream yoga does not result in the development of any magical powers or abilities.
Relevant and Related Searches
- tibetan dream yoga
- dream yoga pdf
- dream yoga book
- dream yoga and the practice of natural light
- dream andre holocek
- tibetan yogas of dream and sleep
- dream yoga techniques
mindbodygreen. “One Hour Of This ‘Yogic Sleep’ Equals 4 Hours Of Regular Sleep: Here’s What You Need To Know.” June 8, 2017. Accessed October 18, 2017. ↩
Huffington Post. “Dreaming the Virtual: Why Lucid Dreamers Should Steer the Digital Economy.” April 27, 2016. Accessed October 18, 2017. ↩