Do you love yoga so much that you want to continue practicing when you sleep?
Enter Dream yoga!
This ancient Tibetan practice offers yoga students a way to develop their practice during sleep and unify the sleeping and awake mind.
Dream yoga is a powerful practice and may take even more patience to master than physical yoga styles. Still, it can be life-changing if you’re ready to dedicate the time and effort to experience it.
So, exactly what is Dream yoga, what are the potential benefits, and how do you practice it?
Let’s find out!
Dream yoga is a type of practice like lucid dreaming, which comes from Tibetan Buddhism.
Like lucid dreaming, dream yoga allows you to control and alter your dreams. It incorporates several meditation techniques to help develop the focus required to reach the state of “awakened dreaming”.
Although anyone can try practicing Dream yoga, it’s important to know it will take some time and a lot of practice to truly master.
Did You Know…
Tibetan Buddhist monks began developing this type of yoga more than 1,000 years ago. Originally, the method was a part of their efforts to grow spiritually and was also used to visit different dimensions. It was believed the monks met people from other worlds when they practiced Dream yoga and were also able to shape-shift or fly.
The practice of Dream yoga aims to help the practitioner come closer to a state of higher consciousness and to discover the true nature of reality.
Along with lucid dreaming, Dream yoga is akin to astral projection, as it involves techniques to separate the mind or consciousness from the body and reach an out-of-body experience.
Dream yoga begins with lucid dreaming, or being conscious in a dream and having the ability to alter it, but that is not where it stops.
Dream yoga teaches you to learn why you’re dreaming, what you’re dreaming, and to transform that part of you. It sees dreams as a wonderful opportunity to meditate and explore the true nature of your mind.
For example, if you’re having a nightmare, the goal isn’t only to alter it but to see why you’re experiencing it and how you can transform the part of your mind that created it.
Some also go as far as to say dream yoga may prepare us for our death. According to Tibetan Buddhism, our mind in dreams is nearly identical to our mind after death. In this manner, the monks who practice Dream yoga believe lucid dreaming can prepare us not only for lucid life but also for lucid dying. Therefore, Dream yoga can become a way to prepare for death, which was one of its main purposes over the centuries.
Finally, Dream yoga helps us stay mindful in daily life, but vice versa is also true – if we’re mindful in our woke state, we will more easily practice Dream yoga. Meditating and being present throughout the day will help us become lucid in the dream state.
Benefits of Dream yoga may include:
- Improved creativity
- Combating phobias and addiction
- Improving work and athletic performance
- Managing stress and negative emotions
- Improving self-esteem and confidence
- Reaching a higher level of awareness and becoming more mindful in daily life
Dream yoga is a mental practice, and there are no physical poses. It is only important that you feel completely relaxed to enter a state of deep rest. For this purpose, you can practice meditation or light yoga before sleep.
Tip: Research has shown you can enter lucid dreaming in both the fetal position and lying on your back, so choose the most comfortable position for you.
How to Practice Dream Yoga
Although a master could help you learn advanced techniques, there’s no reason you shouldn’t try Dream yoga on your own. Dream yoga is done in bed, and you don’t need anything to start except for focus, time, and a lot of patience.
The basic progression to reach a moment when you can practice dream yoga usually looks like this:
- Learn to remember your dreams: It can be helpful to write them down as soon as you wake up.
- Learn to wake up in your dreams: There are several methods to enter a lucid dream, and they all begin with an intention. If you want to be lucid during a dream, you likely will. That’s especially true if you set an alarm for one or two hours before you usually wake. Then, stay up for ten or fifteen minutes, and go back to sleep with the intention that you will wake up in your dreams and remember them.
- Enter dream yoga, a state of dreamless sleep: You will be able to remember insights you received in your dream to use in daily life, and the dream becomes a type of meditation. You can use several dream meditations, one of them being you’re trying to change objects within the dream, for example, transforming a car into a flower. Changing simple objects in your dream symbolizes the deeper work done during Dream yoga – transforming emotional states or limiting beliefs. For example, you may be able to transform stress into tranquillity, fear into love, or sorrow into happiness.
To reach the Dream yoga stage, Tibetan Buddhist monks also practice mindfulness during the day. If you’re more mindful during the woke state, that will naturally also translate into your dreams.
Therefore, before you begin practicing dream yoga, you should have some experience in meditation. Developing focus and concentration is particularly important, as these skills will help you take note of all the different details in a dream.
Additionally, these techniques can be too challenging or even scary for those with no background in other spiritual work. They are very intensive and transformative, so it’s important to make sure you are mentally ready to explore them.
With that in mind, combating fears is one of the biggest benefits of dream yoga – you will be able to work through your phobias and issues as you sleep.
Many times, Buddhist monks will deliberately create nightmares to work with their deepest fears. Although some images may scare you, they are only an illusion created by your subconscious mind, and you will be able to resolve your fears safely. With time, this can help you build confidence and self-esteem in your awake life and essentially teach you your own mind is nothing to be afraid of.
Check out these videos if you want to try Dream yoga at home.
Part 1 preparation for dream yoga
Dream Yoga: Lucid dreaming from the Bön Buddhist tradition of Tibet
Tibetan Dream Yoga by Geshe YongDong
The easiest way to explain the difference is that Dream yoga essentially begins where lucid dreaming ends. Each Dream yoga session begins with lucid dreaming, a state where you are completely aware that you’re dreaming and can make conscious decisions. At this point, Dream yoga takes over by incorporating meditation techniques into a dream.
In a way, you are training your mind inside your dream, changing emotional and spiritual blockages, and using insights from the dream to help you in awake life.
Dream yoga aims to maintain awareness during a dream. With time, you gain control of your dreams and continue to meditate and transform your awareness while sleeping. In this manner, Tibetan Buddhist monks continued to work on reaching enlightenment even during their sleep.
In yoga philosophy, there are four stages of rest, including the waking state, the dream state, deep sleep, and meditation. Waking, dreaming, and deep sleep are interchangeable states, while the fourth – meditation (Turiya), is the higher level of consciousness in which all four of these happen. Dream yoga or conscious dreaming practice may help us become aware of this fourth state, and you can also reach it while awake, during meditation.
Important: Check with your doctor before trying Dream Yoga for the first time if you have any injury, illness, pain, or you are pregnant.