Yoga Nidra is a powerful yogic technique which is also known as yogi sleep or psychic sleep. Yoga nidra rests the body and mind. It is a sleep like state which helps achieve the deepest level of relaxation while maintaining awareness or consciousness. The body falls asleep but the mind remains alert or aware. Yoga nidra removes mental fatigue and invigorates the body. It is one of the techniques of pratyahara (withdrawal of senses) to turn the mind inwards.
Research has shown that yoga nidra works on all levels of an individual be it the central nervous system, electrical activity in the brain, conscious and subconscious mind and the energy body. Hence yoga nidra can address stress, anxiety, disease, habits, emotions and ignorance at a gross level. It can help in sleeping disorders, gynaecological issues and various psychosomatic diseases. It is recognised as a psycho-physiological therapy.
Yoga nidra requires adequate preparation. Choose a place that is comfortable and free from noise. It is recommended that you practice asanas (postures) before you practice yoga nidra as mentioned in the sample routine below. This helps stretch and loosens up every muscle and joint in your body and brings your awareness to the present as the mind relaxes.
You can then lie down in shavasana (corpse pose), make sure you are comfortable and close your eyes as you follow the steps below:
Concentrate on your breath. Inhale and exhale a few times. Then slowly take deeper breaths from your abdomen for between two to five minutes.
There are sixteen vital points in the body which can relax you if you concentrate on them. These points are the toes, ankles, calves, knees, thighs, abdomen, chest, shoulders, elbows, wrist, fingertips, neck, chin, lips, nostrils and forehead. Start the cycle of concentration from your toes and move progressively towards your forehead and reverse the cycle. Repeat this cycle 2-3 times.
Imagine your limbs are now detached from your body. Only your head, chest and abdominal area now exist. Breathe and feel the air entering your spine, cleaning the whole spine.
Now concentrate on the different vital chakras (nerve plexus) present in your body. Start the cycle of concentration from the mooladhara (root plexus, point between the anal space and the genital), move to swadhisthan (the point just four fingers below navel), then manipurak (the point four fingers above navel), anahath (the mid-point of the chest), vishuddhi (mid-point of the throat), ajna (point between the eyebrows) and lastly sahasrara (mid-point of the skull). Breathe in and out while concentrating at each chakra, 5-10 times.
Imagine that your limbs are once again attached to your body. Be aware of your whole body for some time as one unit.
Slowly move your toes, fingers and neck from side to side. Gently turn to one side of your body and sit up.
Remain still throughout the practice.
You must avoid falling asleep during the practice.
Use mental suggestions such as ‘take your awareness to your toes’, ‘take your awareness to your ankles’, ‘focus on muladhara’ and so on.
Yoga Nidra is best practiced under the guidance of a teacher.
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