What is Yoga Nidra?
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Yoga Nidra is a meditation method that has shown amazing results in eliminating stress and stress related issues, like insomnia, anxiety disorders, heart diseases, asthma, and many other chronic illnesses due to accumulation of mental and physical tension. Beyond relieving stress Yoga Nidra can help us to connect with our intuition, find deep satisfaction and peace in life, and enable us to grow internally.
Yoga Nidra can be practiced by everyone. It doesn’t require any physical or mental competence, and no previous experience in yoga or meditation is needed.
Yoga Nidra was developed by the great yogi Swami Satyananda, who adapted the practice to the needs of modern people.
How does Yoga Nidra work? Why is it so effective? How could it help me?
Life has changed dramatically in the last two centuries or so. One of the negative results of those tremendous changes has been the loss of mental balance of the human being.
The increasing pace in our lives, the amount of mental impressions, and the constant changes in our environment result in an enormous, permanent stress level leading to accumulation of tension and dispersion of energies.
In many regards life has become quite unnatural in terms of our emotional, mental and physical needs as human beings. And the most serious consequence is that our modern lifestyle has alienated us from ourselves.
That’s why we love yoga. That’s why we need yoga. Because yoga offers us amazing tools to eliminate stress and find back our balance and harmony in life.
And of all yoga techniques Yoga Nidra is an especially powerful tool, and at the same time it is incredibly easy to do. All you need to do is make sure you are undisturbed during your practice, find a comfortable position, and listen to the instructions of a qualified and experienced Yoga Nidra teacher.
Yoga Nidra is a systematic method of inducing complete physical, mental and emotional relaxation. In Yoga Nidra the state of relaxation is reached by turning inwards away from outer experiences.
Yoga Nidra disconnects your consciousness from sense perception, and also from the process of ordinary, analytical thinking.
In Yoga Nidra relaxation is much deeper than ordinary attempts to relax, it is even more profound than in deep sleep.
Yoga Nidra carries your consciousness effortlessly to a state between wakefulness and sleep. It is not yet sleep, but it is also not full wakefulness. I will later explain, how this can be technically ascertained.
In that state, with relaxed awareness you come into contact with the deeper layers of your psyche, and the subconscious and unconscious levels of the mind open. The subconscious and the unconscious mind are the most powerful forces in the human being.
Try the following short Yoga Nidra:
How Yoga Nidra cures stress-related, psychosomatic illnesses
Did you know, that according to statistics, 70 to 80 % of all visits to the doctor in America are for stress-related and stress-induced illnesses?
That means on the one hand that stress is a really serious issue in modern society, but it also means that for restoring physical and mental health maybe all you need to do is recover your ability to relax deeply.
According to yoga science, stress related illnesses originate from excessive identification of the psyche with experiences in the outer world, together with all their emotional and mental reactions. And if too much is going on, if it is too intense, it leads you to nervous exhaustion and even burnout.
In Yoga Nidra this destructive tendency is relieved by withdrawing prana or psychic energy from the sensory channels. The same energy can then be applied for healing of the affected organs, tissues and glands.
Releasing anxiety and solving internal conflicts
Stress is not only the root cause of many physical ailments, but it also causes anxiety and mental disorders, which are very common in all modern societies, maybe more common than you can imagine.
Yoga Nidra allows you to access the subconscious and unconscious dimensions of your mind, and that’s where we find the root cause of stress patterns and internal conflicts. The subconscious and unconscious dimensions of your mind are usually inaccessible, but in Yoga Nidra you are able to enter into them with relaxed awareness, release possible conflicts and heal yourself.
Through Yoga Nidra you may get a different perception of yourself and your situation, and thus remove unnecessary tension. That is the key to counteracting stress and promoting the ability to live in peace with yourself and the world.
Yoga Nidra can also be used to correct unwanted habits and behavioral patterns. Sankalpa is a tool that we use insinde Yoga Nidra that works especially well in this field. But Sankalpa can do much more.
Sankalpa – creating strength of mind
A very effective method for changing habits or programming the mind to the road of success is what we call Sankalpa.
A Sankalpa is a resolution that you take, preferably in a state of relaxed awareness like in Yoga Nidra, and you plant it in your subconsciousness. Something that is important to you, something you want to achieve in life, express it in a short mental statement. It is a decision that you make for yourself, for your life.
Sankalpa is not about fulfilling this desire or that desire, it is meant to create strength in the structure of your mind for achieving what is really important for you in life. Of course, this can be done in small steps, you don’t have to go for the ultimate goal immediately. The important thing is to select your resolution when you are relaxed, when you are in contact with your inner self.
A powerful mind can achieve practically anything. The Sankalpa is repeated at the beginning and at the end of each yoga nidra practice. It is like planting a seed on fertile ground. The mind is a fertile ground when it is relaxed and receptive.
Yoga Nidra works great for improving memory and learning.
When consciousness is separated from external consciousness and from sleep, like in Yoga Nidra, it becomes very receptive and this can be applied in many ways, for example to develop memory, or increase knowledge and creativity.
When consciousness is connected to the senses, its receptivity is reduced. However, during deep relaxation in Yoga Nidra the mind becomes receptive like a sponge. Whatever you put in front of it, is absorbed. This can be used to learn languages and other subjects easily.
Connecting with your intuition
If you keep practicing Yoga Nidra, you will see the doors of your personality open, and your true nature and integrity manifest fully. You will be able to connect with your inner self and receive intuitions from deep within. Your creative genius is restored. This is the source which great artists, poets and scientists receive inspiration from.
The activity of the brain can be measured by medical equipment like EEG. During wakefulness the activity of the brain is dominated by fast beta waves (14-30 Hz), and when we go to sleep the brain waves slow down to theta waves (4-7 Hz) and delta waves (1-4 Hz).
However, there is an intermediate state called alpha (8-13 Hz), which is usually crossed through quickly when going to sleep in the evening or getting up in the morning. The state of mind where there is a predominance of alpha waves is very important and useful. That is the state we attain during meditation, and also more effortlessly during Yoga Nidra.
In Yoga Nidra this state is systematically achieved and maintained by practicing body awareness, breathing awareness, by visualizations, and by internal experiences. In this way complete relaxation with awareness is achieved. Consciousness is withdrawn from senses and focused on the experience of one’s inner world. The activity of the brain is dominated by alpha waves.
Various scientific investigations have evidenced that a person produces a high level of alpha waves during Yoga Nidra.
Some research has also shown that the difference, e.g. between an average golfer and a top golfer, or between an average basketball player and a top player is, that the top athlete is able to produce a high amount of alpha waves just immediately before he attempts to shoot or score. This seems to support the top athlete in his extraordinary performance, in his ingeniousness.
Now there are some training centers where they offer courses to help you achieve that brilliant state of mind. I have seen offers for 11,000 euros for a training of seven days.
That super intuitive state of mind is, what you attain naturally each time you practice Yoga Nidra.
Those who practice Yoga Nidra regularly can also enter into that state while performing ordinary activities during their daily life.
Yoga Nidra balances the effects of our busy modern life style
Yoga Nidra helps us to relax and to release emotional, mental and physical tension. It has the capacity to cure all kinds of diseases, which are connected with stress or tension (in other words most of modern illnesses). It can change the nature of our mind, help us to overcome insomnia, restore our intuition, restore our creative genius, help us to learn languages and other subjects more easily, and above all it connects us to our inner self, a connection that is lost so easily due to our busy modern lifestyle.
Tips and tricks
Yoga Nidra is great at the end of any yoga class, but it is also a wonderful practice in itself. It can be done at any time of the day at practically any location – provided you can make sure you won’t get disturbed.
Yoga Nidra is done ideally while lying on the back and covered with a light blanket. However, it can also be done sitting or even standing, whatever your situation requires.
Practice Yoga Nidra regularly, if you can, if possible at the same time of the day. You can use our youtube videos, itunes or CDs for your practice.
It’s a good idea to stay with one variation of Yoga Nidra for some time until you become completely familiar with it, before moving on to different, probably more advanced, variations.
Be properly guided
We recommend practicing Yoga Nidra with a qualified and experienced teacher.
Your teacher can only induce mental states which he can experience himself or herself. That means, while instructing Yoga Nidra, the teacher needs to be truly connected with deeper levels of consciousness in order to facilitate a profound experience to the student.
What is your own experience with Yoga Nidra?
Can you confirm some of our findings?
Do you have any questions?
We’ll be more than happy to hear from you in the comments section below this article.
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co-founder of Vrindayoga