17: Yoga Nidra
Yoga Nidra is also known as Yogic Sleep, Psychic Sleep and Lucid Sleeping, is an altered state of consciousness. It is the state of deep sleep where the mind remains conscious and aware. The practice, as it is known today, was developed by Swami Satyananda during the 1980s. He talks about yoga nidra as the deepest state of relaxation where the body goes into sleep mode but the mind remains aware and takes a conscious journey to the inner being. It is considered an initial stage for Samadhi or Moksha. Yes! Yoga nidra is known to lead to enlightenment. In fact, a single hour of Yoga Nidra is equivalent to many hours of quality sleep and is much more restorative and rejuvenating.
- It helps in relieving muscular, emotional, and mental tension.
- Yoga nidra relaxes the mind by relieving stress and anxiety. It heals depression and nervous imbalances.
- It treats insomnia, psychological disorders, and psychosomatic diseases. It is known to be used in the treatment of trauma and shock.
- It trains the mind and helps in enhancing memory and increasing learning capacity.
- Yogic sleep also results in increased energy levels.
- It heals endocrine imbalances and ensures optimal functioning of the endocrine system.
- Yoga nidra not only detoxifies the body, but also clears up the subconscious. It helps in releasing the ‘repressed matter’ from the subconscious.
- It improves creativity.
- It also leads to improved senses and more cultivated body awareness.
- Yoga nidra restores the mind and body and leads to restructuring of the whole personality from within.
8 Stages of Yoga Nidra
- Body Rotation
- Breath Awareness
- Sense Perception (Duality)
- Repeat Sankalpa
Lie down on the mat, feet hips width apart, palms away from the hips and naturally curled. Let your body sink into the floor. Get comfortable. Shift and move a little to let your body settle deeper into the ground. Be comforted that at this time, everything is ok. You may make adjustments now to be completely comfortable.
Do not worry or become agitated if you do not hear everything I say. It is natural to flow in and out of conscious hearing. The deepest part of you, your core self, is always listening.
Come into stillness now and remain still, for deep rest, deep nourishment. Feel your natural breath. Breath flowing through.
Go deep inside now. Deep inside to notice your heart’s deepest longing. What does your heart desire?
Create a sankalpa, an intention affirmation based on your hearts longing. A positive statement in the present tense, as though it’s already happening. State it three times as though it is already happening.
3. Body Awareness Rotation
Allow your awareness to travel through your body now on a journey of sensation. Simply feel each part as it is mentioned, and without moving, remain still. Welcome all sensation, just as it is.
Right side. Visualize the right hand thumb… index finger…middle finger… ring finger… little finger… feel the tips of the fingers… Be aware of your right palm… wrist… forearm… the right elbow… upper arm… the shoulder… the right chest… right side of the stomach…right waist… right hips… the thigh of the right leg… its knee…the calf muscles… the ankle… the heel… the sole… the right big toe… the second toe…the third toe… the fourth toe… the fifth toe… the whole right foot.
Left side. Now take your consciousness to the left side. Repeat as you did above with the right side.
Back. Your body is touching the floor… be aware of the points of contact between the body and the floor… Relax your heels… calf muscles… back of the knee… thighs… hips… lower back… upper back… right shoulder… left shoulder… shoulder blades… back of palms… back of the arms… the neck… and the back of the head…
Face. Be aware of the top of the head… the forehead… both sides of the forehead… the right eyebrow… the left eyebrow… the space between the eyebrows… the right eyelid… the left eyelid… right eyeball… left eyeball… right ear… left ear… right cheek… left cheek…the nose… upper lip… lower lip… and the chin…
Now move your awareness to your major body parts:
Bring your awareness on the main parts of the body… full right foot… left foot… feel both feet together… the right leg… the left leg… both legs together… full right hand… full left hand… feel both hands together… the right arm… the left arm… both arms together… your full back and spine…complete abdomen… chest… and the whole face… the face is totally relaxed and peaceful… now feel your whole head and body together.
Visualize your body lying down on the floor completely relaxed.
4. Breath Awareness
Now become aware of your natural and normal breath. The breath is coming in and going out freely… you move with the breath fully consciously.
With each inhalation, it is expanding…with each exhalation, it is sucking in… Now, as you are aware of your breath, start counting backwards with each in breath and each out breath, as follows:
“I am breathing in 27 (or 10); I am breathing out 27 (or 10); I am breathing in 26 (or 9); I am breathing out 26 (or 9); and so on, from 27 (or 10) to 1.
Say the words and numbers mentally as you count your breaths. After completing the counts, pause for about 5 minutes if you started counting from 27 and for about three minutes if counting started from 10.
5. Sense Perception
Be aware of your body and of your sensations. Feel, with each inhalation, that cool air is entering your nose, and the body is becoming more energetic.
You are getting strength, power, courage, good health, and happiness.
Feel as with each exhalation, warm air is coming out of your nose, and you are releasing all the toxins, stress, ill health, all the weakness from your body. The body is becoming relaxed, and you feel as if you are sinking into the floor.
Mentally select a place of natural beauty, which you have ever visited and liked, such as a park, a garden, a lawn, or a riverside. Feel as if you are mentally present at that place. Take your mind to that place, and feel as if you lying at that place and are breathing the air of that environment. Keeping the mind involved with the same environment, feel as you are experiencing and enjoying the same happiness again.
7. Repeat Sankalpa
Now remember your heart’s longing statement. Repeat it again three times as the present truth, three times to yourself. It is the truth.
8. Return back to awareness
Notice your back body side of the body facing the earth. Notice all of the space surrounding you. Let your body expand wider into the space that surrounds you. Notice your breath. Feel its rhythm and pace. We are now completing relaxation practice. Before moving, sense your fingers and just imagine them moving. Now begin to wiggle your fingers, feeling every sensation as you do. Notice your toes. Begin to wiggle your toes.
Draw a deeper breath into your belly, into your chest. Rock slowly over to your right side in fetal position. Imagine that you are water, and pressing your left palm into the floor, flow, like a river up to a comfortable seated position.