"Dream Yoga" may seem like a bit of a misnomer to us today as you will find nary a downward dog in its practice, and it in fact has very little to do with the physical body at all. The word "yoga" is here used for its original Sanskrit meaning, which translates roughly to "to unite" or "to join". The practice of dream yoga is actually the oldest form of what we now know as lucid dreaming and can be traced back to Tibetan communities about a thousand years ago. Even though you can't take a dream yoga class alongside Lycra-clad women in a sun- streaked LA studio, the philosophy and goals of dream yoga can provide enlightenment and a new level of consciousness to those who keep the practice alive today.
In an effort to avoid getting tangled up in complicated explanations of ancient Tibetan philosophy and very long Sanskrit words, I will simplify everything as best I can. At its core, dream yoga is the practice of breaking down the barrier between waking and dreaming, while attaining heightened awareness in both states. The ideas that make up this philosophy are predicated on one assumption: that reality is just as fleeting and illusory as we view dreams to be.
The Buddhist faith has a principle called "interdependence", which posits that nothing in our physical world is really here in a true sense. While we can see and touch things in front of us, those things are nothing more than a physical representation of a collection of history, development, and perceptions that we have collectively agreed to mean one thing. To clarify, there is nothing inherently pencil-y about a pencil. Our history of writing utensils, the different materials that make up the pencil, and how we have come to use and think about the pencil is what makes it such. To bring this idea into a more metaphysical realm, there is nothing in you as a person that is inherently you. Your body or brain cannot be pointed to as the tangible center of yourself; the idea of a person is something that is neither inextricably linked to the physical body nor entirely separate from it. To get a better sense of interdependence, do a quick search on the term and browse around a bit.
The bottom line...
is that once we start to question what constitutes "reality", the line that divides our daily lives and our dream worlds becomes very fluid. This is where the word "yoga" comes into play; just as Lycra-clad LA yoga aims to join breath with movement, dream yoga seeks to join the waking world with the dreaming one.
As it applies to modern dreamers, dream yoga is actually very similar to lucid dreaming. In fact, what we think of as lucid dreaming today is merely the second half of dream yoga, which can theoretically be practiced 24 hours a day. The daytime practice of dream yoga works toward becoming highly conscious of the connections between the "real" world and the dream world and breaking down notions of absolute reality. The nighttime portion is where lucid dreaming comes in, working the process in reverse and pulling reality into the dream.
There are two simple ways to incorporate dream yoga practice into your waking life:
1 - Pay close attention to the sensations of being awake and alert during the day and take notice of how it feels to be conscious. Having a firm grasp on this feeling while awake will help you to achieve it in your lucid dreams.
2 - Take time during your day to look around, take an inventory of the things you are seeing and experiencing, and tell yourself firmly that none of it is truly real. This may seem difficult to tell yourself, much less believe, but it's really very similar to performing state checks during a lucid dream. This exercise will help you continue to loosen your grip on absolute reality.
Working in tandem with regular lucid dreaming practice, dream yoga can transform your daily life into a constant, subtle form of meditation. Blurring that line between waking and dreaming can kickstart your consciousness and change the way you see life in general. If you're curious, there are plenty of books and websites that go into this practice in great detail, but in the meantime, start experimenting! You might just find yourself enlightened.
Dream Leaf is a natural dietary supplement that promotes
dreaming, and more particularly - lucid dreaming.