My perspectives on Patanjali Yogsutra, article 8: Sleep as a distraction or recreation?!

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In our series of articles on Patanjali YogSutras, we are studying the vruttis (modifications) of our Buddhi (mind) as told by Sage Patanjali.

So far, we have seen three modifications in detail, namely- प्रमाण (pramana), विपर्यय (viparyaya) and विकल्प (vikalpa).

In his next aphorism, Sage Patanjali suggests Nidra i.e., sleep as the next modification of our mind that poses as distraction in an aspirant’s journey towards his Ultimate goal of Samadhi through Yoga.

He very aptly quotes,

अभावप्रत्ययालम्बना वृत्तिर्निद्रा॥१०॥

Translation: “Sleep is the mental habit characterized by the absence of form”

In more detailed terms, it can be understood as-

Deep sleep is the absence of reasoning & other thoughts where all other modifications of mind are suspended.  


If a human is deprived of the right deep but conscious sleep then the sleeping tendency poses as a distraction in our goal of recreation.

According to yog philosophy, the mind remains active even in sleep. Hence at times, we don’t feel as having completely rested, even after sleeping for hours. The quality of rest depends on how calm & concentrated the mind has been in sleep. When we sleep, the activities of the brain, the nervous system, and the senses are almost shut down.

In the sleeping state the mind is disconnected from external world and has no tools for collecting the experiences of worldly objects and bringing them back to the woke up state. Yet the mind runs to the world of memory even while sleeping and begins to rejoice the contents of the past deposited in the unconscious mind. Often the mind gets jumbled with the unconscious contents giving rise to false perception and imagination. In Yogic language it is called “mental daze.”

Mind exists during sleep so when you wake up, you remember that you have been asleep and remember minute details. You know either slept well or that you had a disturbed sleep, depending on what you were experiencing while you slept. This hampers the quality of sleep.

According to the Yogshastra (Science of Yoga), if we learn the proper technique for sleeping it gives better rest to both body and mind in less time. That technique is known as yogic sleep (yoga nidrā). During yogic sleep, you are fully awake and aware that you are sleeping; the mind is not roaming. During normal sleep you are neither awake nor aware that you are sleeping. During yogic sleep, you sleep like a master; in normal sleep you sleep helplessly, like a slave.

According to the yogis, normal sleep is a waste of time except that it gives some rest to your body and mind but not full. In yogic sleep, you get complete rest. During yogic sleep your body—nervous system, senses, brain, and mind—are fully relaxed and free from all distractions and disturbances.

The techniques of Yog Nidra are simple to follow once learnt. They can give our mind and body best rest in even 5/6 hours of sleep. This increases our productivity and efficiency day round, exactly what we need in today’s jet age.

Let us convert our sleep into recreation time by understanding the real strength of Yogic concepts for better life.

For learning Yog Nidra and to know more about Yogsutras get in touch with me on To know more, visit us at

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