Yoga Nidra

This question was asked by Kannan: "what is "yoga nidra?"

These are some answers from our Facebook friends - do you have any experiences you'd like to share?

Anne: literally translated it means: "sleep of the yogis". It's an ancient relaxation technique that enables people to consciously enter into a state of deep physical and mental relaxation. It helps us to restore and enhance the physical, psych...ological, and mental health as many aspects of health depend on our ability to relax.

Yoga nidra is a technique suitable for everyone since it is an entirely mental exercise and does not involve physical movement. The process of guided relaxation makes it possible to retain the consciousness at deeper levels between wakefulness & sleep. Systematic practice over a longer period of time leads to deep relaxation that can substitute for several hours of sleep.

Numerous illnesses, for which there is no complete cure, are caused by stress. Nowadays, most people suffer due to a stressful way of life. Stress, nervousness, and mental imbalance are solely a consequence of a restless way of life and a lack of relaxation. We seek relaxatioin either in various hobbies and sports, or entertainment and idleness. Yet all of these activities only lead to an artificial distraction of the mind and do not bring true, deep, relaxation since the functioning of the mind cannot be stopped but only directed.

Yoga nidra offers a complete relaxation system that helps neutralize the effects of stress. The mind can be guided without its activity being supressed. Yoga nidra helps us to overcome problems deeply rooted in the subconscious, such as blind anger, depression, complexes, fear...the consequences of which infiltrate into the conscious life.

We clear our mind of tensions and disturbing thoughts. Regardless of how serious our problems are, we cannot slve them merely by thinking. The opposite is true: thinking only enhances stress. It is the very inhability to let go of the thoughts revolving around teh problems that leads to physical disturbance (high blood pressure, backaches, stomach aches, headaches, gall bladder & stomac problems, etc.)

Through yoga nidra we calm down the emotions as they are the source of our thoughts. During this relaxation our hidden toughts and desires emerge from the subconscious and they irritate our mind, but we can learn to become free of them. We learn how to withdraw our attention from the outer world and turn it inwards (also called "pratyahara").

From the viewpoint of neurology, this technique is about consciously switching from the sympathetic nervous system with its characteristics of increased blood pressure, accelerated heart beat, greater stimulation, to the parasympathetic nervous system, which is calming, decreased blood pressure, slowing of the heart beat. Stimulation of the brain cells in that certain part of the cerebral cortex causes a reaction in the opposite half of the body.

With yoga nidra, we can observe the reverse process taking place: the brain centers are activated by focusing mentally on individual body parts in a certain order as instructed by the person guiding the practice. The practice of yoga nidra harmoizes the functioning of both brain hemispheres.

Due to such benefits, this technique is is an important component of yoga sadhana. Yoga nidra should not be confused witht the techniques of autogenic training or auto-suggestion. The difference is that these techniques do not bring about the spiritual transformation that yoga nidra does. The practice of yoga nidra gives the practioner a feeling of inner fulfillment as well as self-confidence and strength to face life's challenges.

Sri Deep Narayan Bhagwan Ki Jay!
ॐ शांति शांति शांति (OM Shanti Shanti Shanti)

SitaAnne that's a really good answer, you seem to know a lot about it. I have a question... More often than not when I do yoga nidra I fall asleep. It doesn't matter what time of day it is, or if I'm tired or not, I almost always fall asleep. D...o you have any advice for me? 

I really liked the sessions I did except I think we are not supposed to fall asleep.

William: As in any practice of any kind of meditation or relaxation, falling asleep happens. It does not mean you are doing anything wrong. Try making notice of what is going on just before. We vary between being hyper alert to zone-ers. Ir you tend to be a zone-er, my only caution is avoid standing meditation. When your face hits the floor, it is disturbing to you and your fellow practioners.

Anne: Falling asleep during yoga nidra is common because of our conditioning (like Pavlov's bell & the dog). When we lay down, we are conditioned to sleep. We associate the two. So it's only natural to have that reaction initially when you start practicing yoga nidra. William said, you're not doing anything "wrong" per se. And certainly nothing to get frustrated about.

What we need to work toward is that "relaxed awareness". It's work...HARD me. You are trying to break an association that you've built up over 365 days x how old you are x # of naps you've had! Tapasia! :)

But like with any habit, with practice, and over time, it does become easier. Before you begin...first take mental note of your mood, your fatigue level, time of day, etc. This will be a good indicator of your propensity to "sleep". That begins that awareness of your self - and also lessens the likelihood of you drifting completely off to sleep. Then just focus on the leader's words, really try to *feel and relax* the parts of the body as your attention is directed from one to the next. If you find yourself falling asleep, try to observe HOW you are sleeping. Remember you are being brought to that state of relaxation between wakefulness & sleep....

If students in the classes that I teach fall asleep, I look at it as that they obviously needed the rest. And it's a good indicator that I've done my job and relaxed them. ;)

Hari OM Tat Sat!

Suguna: Yoga nidra is among the deepest relaxation I have ever experienced , it doesnt necessarily happen everyday although one may be doing the same practice (seemingly) everyday. Its only when both the mind and the body have attained that heightened relaxation and when one has truly practiced shavasana that yoga nidra follows . On experiencing yoga nidra one craves for more - to me its even more superior and refreshing than a regular night's sleep.

Venkata: While going into sleep, on the bed, observe the normal breathing rhythm. One will be Transcendent into deep sleep without notice. After wakeup, usually that happens earlier to normal sleep, and feel refreshed.

Ranika: sleep can never compensate the yog nidra state!!! its being totally consious in the unconscious ...

Sanjiv: Dhyan, Pranayam and Yog nindra are three most effective things of yoga. Many diseases we have due to stress that often leads to loss of sleep. So its quite natural that body goes to sleep after a bit of relaxation. After fully resting the body a time will come when one can remain awake during yog nindra and by that time the body will be free from all diseases as this is byproduct of yoga.

Krishnan: it is a state where you are consciously able to look at the subconscious memories. Swami Satyananda Saraswathi of the Bihar School of Yoga popularised it (it's a part of nyaasa meditation). Read his book "Yoga Nidra" and it explains the principles and practice of yoga nidra. Don't be fooled by the nidra in it. It is not regular sleep.

Kannan: Thanks alll

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