Yoga Nidra means Yogic Sleep. Yoga Nidra brings an incredible calmness, quietness and clarity. Yoga Nidra is one of the deepest of all relaxations, leading awareness through many levels of mental process to a state of supreme stillness. It is a state of conscious Deep Sleep, the semi conscious state between sleeping and being fully awake.
Stages of yoga nidra
1. Preparation~ Yoga nidra is done in relaxation pose, with the eyes closed. In this stage, initial relaxation of the body and mind is induced by the awareness of stillness, comfort, posture, position, breath, and listening to the external sounds with the attitude of detached awareness.
2. Positive affirmation~ When the body and mind are relaxed, then make a positive affirmation (also called Sankalpa or resolve) according to your own wish. This should be short, clear and positive. You repeat this sankalpa three times mentally, with positivity and confidence.
3. Rotation of consciousness~ In the third stage, the awareness is rotated around the different body parts in a systematic way. You need to remain aware, listen to the instructions and to move the mind very rapidly without making any physical movements.
4. Breath awareness~ Now, one becomes aware of the natural breath without making an attempt to change the flow of the breath. One may become aware of the breath by watching it in the nostrils, chest, and abdomen, or in the passage between the navel and the throat. You become aware of each incoming and outgoing breath by counting them mentally.
5. Opposite feelings and sensations~ In this stage, the physical or emotional sensations are recalled, intensified and experienced fully. Usually this is practised with pairs of opposite feelings or sensations like heat and cold, heaviness and lightness, pain and pleasure, love and hate, and so on.
6. Visualization~ In the stage of visualization, the awareness is taken to the dark space in front of the closed eyes, (sometimes called chidakashaha), before a visualisation. The visualisation is often tailored to your individual needs, the time of day or anything else pertinent for the practice.
7. Sankalpa~ Once again the sankalpa (resolve), is repeated mentally three times in this stage with full dedication, faith and optimism.
8. Ending the practice~ Before ending the session of yoga nidra, slowly the awareness is externalized by asking you to become aware of the external sounds, objects and persons. You are asked then to slowly move the body parts and to stretch the body.
The Sankalpa taken in each session of yoga nidra is perhaps the most effective technique for training the mind. Swami Satyananda (1998) says, “anything in life can fail you, but not the sankalpa made during yoga nidra”. The sankalpa is taken and sowed in the subconscious mind when it is relaxed and receptive. It trains the subconscious mind, and then the ordinary mind follows the path automatically. The sankalpa helps in training the mind because it is planted when the mind is relaxed and ready to absorb and accept it. The essential thing is that the resolve should be planted with strong willpower and feeling. Swami Satyananda (1998) says, “the sankalpa taken at the beginning of yoga nidra is like sowing a seed, and the sankalpa at the end is like irrigating it. So, the resolve taken in yoga nidra always brings result, if it is taken sincerely”.
Benefits of Yoga Nidra include reducing tension. A continuous level of tension in the body, mind and emotions predisposes an individual towards psychological and psychosomatic disorders. Modern psychology as well as yogic philosophy believes in three kinds of tension – muscular tensions, emotional tensions and mental tensions – which can be progressively released through the systematic and regular practice of yoga nidra. Muscular tension results from nervous and endocrinal imbalances. It manifests in the form of stiffness and rigidity in the physical body. In the practice of yoga nidra the body is progressively relaxed, which in turn releases the accumulated muscular tensions.
In day to day life individuals fail to express their emotions freely and openly. As a result, the emotions are repressed and manifest in the form of emotional tension. In the practice of yoga nidra, the practitioner slowly moves towards the deeper realms of the mind where he or she confronts the deep-rooted emotional tensions. When the practitioner recognizes these emotional tensions with full awareness, repressed emotions are released and the practitioner becomes calm and tranquil.
Due to excessive activity on the mental plane, the mind always remains in a state of arousal, which results in mental tension. In the practice of yoga nidra, especially in rotation of consciousness and breath awareness, the mind is relaxed, thereby releasing the mental tensions. In this way, through the regular and sincere practice of yoga nidra, tensions at the physical, emotional and mental level can be minimized. According to Swami Satyananda (1998), “a single hour of yoga nidra is as restful as four hours of conventional sleep”.
Trains the mind, relaxes the mind, helps to clear the unconscious, awakens creativity, enhances memory and learning capacity, counteracts stress, manages psychological and physical disorders.
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