Yoga Nidra is described as the waking sleep, as it can take the participant to a state of conscious deep sleep. It is a systematic method of inducing complete physical, emotional and mental relaxation.
The practitioner appears to be sleeping but the unconscious mind is functioning at a deeper level. It is sleep with deep awareness. In normal sleep we lose track of our self, but in Yoga Nidra, while consciousness of the world is dim and relaxation is deep, there remains an inward feeling of lucidity and the experience may be absorbed and even recalled after. Since Yoga Nidra involves effortless relaxation it is best practised with an experienced and trusted teacher, who can verbally deliver instructions.
Anyone can do Yoga Nidra. It cannot be done incorrectly. As you lie down, supported in Savasana, or Corpse Pose, all anyone needs to do is follow the guided voice. It’s likely parts of the meditation will not be heard as you enter deep relaxation. Every time you do this practise it is like a new experience, none of which is wrong. Many fall asleep and that is okay too. You will still receive benefits while the unconscious mind is absorbing the practice.
My personal journey with Yoga Nidra began at 18 attending the Satyananda Yoga Centre in Manly, Sydney and Mangrove Mountains, Central Coast of NSW and in that time I was lucky to have been part of a workshop taught by the originator of the Yoga Nidra technique, Swami Satyananda, (now deceased).
More recent research studies by Dr Richard Millar (Integrative Restoration or IRest) over the past 16 years has proven that the reductions in anxiety and stress symptoms occurs with regular Yoga Nidra practise amongst all ages.
When I began my Fitness, Wellness and Teaching career I included Yoga Nidra as part of a regular practise in schools as well as Fitness Classes. This became part of every program I still teach with all ages. I have found over the years as stress and anxiety levels increase more and more people request Yoga Nidra and even ask for a longer session.
Currently I am running a program for the NSW Department of Education Teachers that includes Yoga Nidra as a practise to help students suffering stress and anxiety.
The scientific studies have shown that people who practise Yoga Nidra experience better sleep generally, reduced anxiety and fear, reduced depression, improved interpersonal relationships and are more productive.
In our cities across the world we live in an over stressed, over stimulated environment and this is not going away.
The result of this is people are feeling chronic exhaustion, adrenal burnout and daily fatigue and the stress of having to cope with this while looking after self, studying, working and possibly having a family, earn an income, provide daily living requirements and get enough ?me? time means ? total burn out is fast approaching. Yoga Nidra is a simple, practised and researched method that will help address all these issues.
In a classic Yoga Nidra practice, the practitioner lies on a mat/floor on their back with arms away from the body and palms turned upwards. In Yoga terminology, this is called Shavasana or corpse pose.
Feet should be separated to approximately hip width apart, and toes falling outwards. Eyes remain closed throughout and adding a lavender pillow over the eyes will aid the sense of complete relaxation.
It is best if the body is lying symmetrically. A good way to do this is to imagine a centre line running from the souls of the feet to the crown of the head.
This position is said to aid relaxation and influence the consciousness and prepares the mind/body for complete relaxation and letting go. It is also said it will balance the flow of life force or Chi throughout the body.
When I teach Yoga Nidra I include a focus on Intentions, which helps realising a resolve or something you want to achieve in your life I say ?See it, Say it to yourself, Feel what it is like and Make it happen?. I invite people to repeat this several times silently before moving into the verbal instruction of relaxation of muscles and body through naming eg feet, legs, torso and so on and then repeat the intention when coming out of deep relaxation. I also focus on breath before and after the deep relaxation.
Your Intention could be as simple as wanting more love in your life or being kinder to yourself, or something very specific like a great new job or giving up alcohol or smoking. People have reported back to me that seeing and feeling these intentions have decreased their anxiety and allowed them to feel more positive about being able to achieve a balance in life.
People who practise Yoga Nidra and Intention say by repeating an Intention to themselves have found that by being in this relaxed state helps it take root in the unconscious. This could also be called a post-hypnotic suggestion. People have also told me that they have achieved much after practising the combination of Yoga Nidra, Intention and importantly Mindfulness, by creating the moment they are in and letting go of sounds around them and daily stresses in as little as 10 minutes a day .This practise has had profound results.
Combining a Mind/Body Fitness and Wellness Program that includes Movement such as Yoga, Pilates, Dance, Cardio Fitness and adding a Yoga Nidra practise to finish is the total balance of mind and body. Keeping fit will also decrease anxiety and stress by helping the blood flow and oxygen throughout the body and to the brain. Feel good hormones known as endorphins are released during cardio based movement and will make an enormous difference to how one feels, relieving stress and anxiety. Continuing this combination will have a long term positive outcome.
Yoga Nidra can be included as part of a class and will produce results in as little as 10 minutes or a longer Yoga Nidra of 40 minutes to an hour will have profound results through total relaxation and coming to a place of peace.
On my website www.bodyandbalance.com.au there is a free 10 minute Yoga Nidra or a 30 minute one for purchase that includes Chakra Balance
It is said 30 Minutes of Yoga Nidra is the equivalent of 2 hours sleep and will increase dopamine tone during meditation induced change in consciousness. (http://www.anthonyprofeta.com/meditation-increases-brains-dopamine-levels/)
Thank you for reading.