By: LIB Author
Yoga Nidra is an ancient meditation technique developed in Hindi and Buddhist cultures that when practised can engender the deepest state of relaxation in a person although they remain awake. As a practice observed in line with traditional yoga, Nidra is said to have a remarkable impact on those who suffer from anxiety, heightened-stress and heart palpitations.
Yoga Nidra has even been used on soldiers of war suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. Yoga Nidra is simple to practise and it is recommended that you try it as an addition to your regular practise or with a teacher to understand how to follow the process.
1.Quieten the sense
Either lie down or sit with a straight back to enable your body to settle and so you can begin the process of internalising the senses to help bring the body and mind into a relaxed and receptive state. The mind unchecked has the tendency to wander outwards so we use techniques such as awareness of the senses, body awareness and breath awareness to rein it in.
2.Sankalpa: Your personal Resolve
This is a short, positively worded statement repeated at the beginning and at the end of Yoga Nidra and is a very powerful aspect of the practice. Your resolve should describe your intent that reflects your highest aspiration. It may take some time for an individual to realise what their resolve is. The process of discovery need not be rushed. The resolve is a direct order from the conscious to the unconscious mind which makes it much more powerful than an affirmation that is made on a conscious level only. Once decided upon the resolve and the language used should not be changed, as it is the repetition of the same resolve in the subtly unconscious state that is so powerful. To quote Swami Satyananda: “Anything can fail you in life but not the resolve made in Yoga Nidra.” All faith and belief should be placed in the resolve to ensure its success. It is a seed that is planted and will surely grow.
This is how you explore each part of your body with your mind, becoming aware of the body as a whole. This deepens the process of physical relaxation and builds awareness of the body. Often our minds are separated from our bodies due to too much mental activity. Through this practice we are able to focus on and experience any individual part of the body we choose just by thinking about it.
This is the final part of the physical relaxation process. We are now moving into the more subtle realms of consciousness. A variety of breathing exercises can be used here, like alternate nostril breathing, navel breathing and ujjayi (deep yogic breathing). Counting the breaths is also commonly used to ensure the practitioner remains aware.
Polarised feelings are explored in order to develop emotional relaxation and to harmonise the left and right sides of the brain. This enables us to experience the extremes of emotions and to witness ourselves doing so. It brings a greater sense of equanimity into our lives. Often during this part of the practice people relive deep emotional experiences and are able to release them. A few examples of the opposites that are explored are sensations of weight and lightness, of heat and cold; pain and pleasure; hunger and satisfaction.
This enables one to cleanse the mind of toxic contents. Allegories, chakra visualisation and images of great universal significance all are used. These bring the contents of the unconscious mind to the surface to be released.
After repeating the Sankalpa or resolve, the student is then slowly and gently brought back into the physical world through the methods of breath and body awareness.