What is Yoga Nidra?
Yoga Nidra is an ancient yogic technique of creating a deep relaxation in the body and mind. It systematically works on the body mind complex, gradually and positively restructuring and reforming our personalities from within. The higher involuntary centers of the brain are activated through this practice where the brain is able to comprehend and assimilate complex information easily thereby increasing our efficiency and capacity to unfold our creative genius. Through this powerful yogic practice awareness penetrates the levels of the conscious, sub conscious and unconscious minds to dislodge certain deep rooted tendencies that govern our behavior pattern on the conscious level, hence freeing us from compulsive eating, talking, uncontrolled anger, anxiety and other psychological problems. This practice opens the deeper levels of the mind enabling us to cure many psychosomatic diseases such as asthma, hyper tension, heart diseases, migraines, diabetes, digestive and skin disorders etc.
Yoga Nidra is performed in shavasana which is the best posture to induce complete relaxation. Consciousness is slowly withdrawn from the senses with the exception of the sense of hearing and feeling. The hearing faculty is the channel which keeps the link open with the brain and enables the consciousness to travel deep into the layers of the mind. Hence staying awake throughout the practice is extremely important for a yoga Nidra practitioner.
Resolve or Sankalpa
During the beginning and end of the practice you will be invited to mentally repeat slowly and clearly your personal resolve. A resolve is a powerful method for reshaping your personality and changing the course of your life for the best. When the seed of your resolve is sown into the tranquil bed of a receptive mind, the consciousness gathers the powerful internal forces to convert your desire or resolve into a reality. Since this practice can change the course of your destiny a resolve should be chosen with utmost care. A desire or resolve with permanent long term benefits should be preferred over temporary short term gains. Attention must be given to the language of the resolve. A short, concise and clearly worded resolve will easily penetrate into the sub conscious mind and take root. A few examples of resolves are:
· I will awaken my spiritual potential
· I will be more aware and efficient
· I will achieve total health
Rotation of Consciousness
During this aspect of the practice of Yoga Nidra, you will be asked to rapidly move your awareness from one part of the body to the next. It is important to follow the instructions without making any efforts to concentrate hard on them. Any attempt on concentration will obstruct the flow of consciousness. Simply stay awake and listen and follow the instructions. When the instructor asks you to bring your awareness to the “right hand thumb”, repeat it mentally, think of the right hand thumb without moving it and carry your awareness to the next instruction. This is by no means a monotonous exercise but one in which the mind is trained to fix the awareness on the inaccessible areas of the brain so that involuntary control of the higher centers of the brain is established and awareness is maintained even when the senses are withdrawn from external stimulations.
This is another important aspect of the practice where the student visualizes the images given by the instructor. Since the images used often have universal significance and powerful associations, they bring the hidden contents of the deep unconscious mind to the conscious level. The practice of visualization develops self-awareness and deeply relaxes the mind, by purging it of disturbing or painful memories. It leads the mind to a high level of concentration and meditation.
Ending the practice
The visualization practice is usually finished with an image that evokes profound feelings of peace and calmness. This makes the unconscious mind very receptive to positive thoughts and suggestions. At this point the practitioner is asked to repeat their resolve. This direct order from the conscious mind to the unconscious is the seed enabling one to radically change one’s attitude, behavior or destiny. Finally the awareness is directed to flow to the body and its surroundings. You are instructed to gently move the body and come up to a seated position.