Yoga Nidra, an ancient practice for withdrawal of the senses.
Who does need a deep relaxation practice that melts all tensions, negative emotions, and worries away? If you’ve answered yes, then, you want to try Yoga Nidra, an ancient practice for withdrawal of the senses.
The first time I was looking for a deep relaxation practice on YouTube I bumped into the practice of yoga nidra and I was pleasantly surprised about the power of this practice.
After only 20 minutes of this powerful yogic practice, I felt so relaxed and at peace, but energised at the same time.
I got more into the study and practise of this fascinating and ancient relaxation technique and I’ve discovered that it can really help many people, including myself to find a moment to switch-off the brain completely and being with oneself. But also to help to heal repressed trauma, release anxiety and anger, old emotions and anger.
What exactly Yoga Nidra is? Do not worry, It’s not another yoga style or method, Yoga Nidra is conscious sleep. To put it simply, it is like the moment you are falling asleep but you are still conscious.
Yoga Nidra it’s a bridge between subconscious & unconscious, and our conscious experience; is a practice for deep relaxation which has its roots into the ancient tantric tradition, so as old as Yoga itself.
More practically, yoga nidra is a deep relaxation technique that has many benefits:
- increases memory and learning skills
- helps release suppressed emotions or thoughts
- helps against psychosomatic disorder, which is caused by mental stress, such as depression, sleeping issues, anxiety.
Furthermore, the practice of yoga nidra deepens 6th sense, expands the mind, and magnifies consciousness. If you don’t fall asleep following this yoga nidra practice but you practice it properly, the mind and the body receive a great relaxation.
History of yoga nidra
Yoga nidra has its roots into the ancient tantra tradition, the practice has been introduced to the media stream and modern world, in the 60’s, by Bihar yoga school’s founder Swami Satyananda Saraswati, which named it “Psychic sleep” and developed a protocol which was adaptable to the modern society and called it yoga nidra.
Satyananda realised that sleep was not a state of total unconsciousness but potentially a form of awareness that is awake and fully alert to the outer situations. Yoga nidra is similar to ancient tantric meditation practices.
It’s a practice of pratyahara, or withdrawal of the senses, which according to Patanjali is the 5th stage of yoga, where the senses are drawn inwards.
It belongs to the higher stages of Raja Yoga when awareness is progressively withdrawn from the external world, the body, the process of breathing, the conscious mind, and the unconscious mind.
As I mentioned, Yoga Nidra is an ancient tantric practice but in modern times Satyananda introduced the practice to the modern world. So, full respect to past teachers, because thanks to them we can benefit from this powerful deep relaxation practice.
Below, an extract of Swami Satyananda Yoga Nidra book explaining sleeping: (source Yoga Nidra by Swami Satyananda).
How to practice yoga nidra
Yoga nidra is a deep relaxation practise that lasts for about thirty to forty minutes. It is best done before sunrise or around sunset, possibly after asana, pranayama and meditation. It should be practised on an empty stomach, at least three hours for a normal meal or half an hour for a light snack.
This fantastic practise of deep relaxation will be done as guided, lying down in Savasana, on the floor or on the bed. Better to practice yoga Nidra in a quiet space and wearing comfortable and loose clothing. The practitioner will only use the auditory sense to listen and follow instructions.
One of the main challenges of yoga Nidra practice is that one can fall asleep. In this case, you’ll have the benefits of a lovely nap, but if you stay awake you’ll get the whole benefits of deep relaxation.
As one advances with the practice of yoga Nidra, there is a better understanding of the mind and great support for healing and resolving many issues related to mind, emotions, and whole life.
Stages of yoga Nidra
First stage: general relaxation of the body and resolve (Sankalpa). Yoga nidra can be used to heal and deal with any kind of personal issues, with this practice you will choose a Sankalpa. A simple short sentence in the present tense. Choose anything important to you, something that you want to achieve in life, either material, spiritual, personal or you can take this thing as your Sankalpa. You will repeat it three times, using your mother tongue.
Second stage: rotation of consciousness – through different parts of the body – without any movement but just remaining aware, and listening to the guiding voice and moving the mind according to instructions along each part of the body.
Third stage – Awareness of the breath, to promote relaxation and concentration but also to awaken higher energies and direct prana (life energy) to each cell of the body.
Fourth stage – Feeling and emotions. The feeling of the opposite sensations will be created.
Fifth step – Visualisation of images to induce mental relaxation and develop self-awareness. It leads to a state of Dharana (concentration) or pure meditation.
The sixth stage – Ending the practice with an image that evokes feelings of peace and calmness and bringing the mind back from psychic sleep to a waking state.
The practice of yoga Nidra is very powerful and sometimes can induce negative thoughts or feelings. If this happens, try not to let this unpleasant experience disturb you. They are normal expressions of your mental toxins existing in your unconscious mind; just observe them, focus on your breath and let them go.
If you are interested in this deep relaxation practice, watch the video below to enjoy this practice for deep relaxation
Love and light