So what is Yoga Nidra and how it works?
Yoga Nidra is a systematic method of inducing complete physical, mental and emotional relaxation. Nidra is a Sanskrit word that means sleep. During the practice of Yoga Nidra, one appears to be asleep, but the consciousness is functioning on a deeper level of awareness. For this reason, Yoga Nidra is often referred to as psychic sleep or deep relaxation with inner awareness.
The Yoga Nidra state decreases the sympathetic (excitatory) nervous activity and increases the parasympathetic (relaxatory) function. During Yoga Nidra the organs and systems of the body attain deep, physiological rest and the body’s powerful, inherent, regenerative mechanisms are set in motion. As a result, body tissues are physiologically braced against stress, becoming less susceptible to its harmful influences. The profound experience of muscular, mental and emotional relaxation enables a balance of psychic and vital energies in the subtle body. Free flow of these energies forms the basis of optimal physical and mental health.
The benefits can be felt after the first practice of Yoga Nidra, but it is much more effective if practiced on a regular basis.
What is Sankalpa?
When the body is relaxed the mind becomes very receptive. It allowes us to learn new things faster, or remove unwanted habits with autosuggestions. That’s why the most effective means of training the mind is found in Sankalpa, which you make for yourself during each practice. The Sanskrit word Sankalpa can be translated as resolve, resolution or intention. It is a mental statement which is impressed on the subconscious mind when it is most receptive and sensitive to autosuggestion. It is a determination to become something or to do something in your life. The purpose of Sankalpa is not to fulfil desires, but to create strength in the structure of the mind. The purpose of Sankalpa is not only to remove a bad habit, but to influence and transform the whole life pattern, not only physically but also mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Here are a few examples of Sankalpas that are broad based:
- I am calm.
- I am loving and loved.
- I am patient.
- I am open to receive everything that I need.
- Creativity runs through me.
- I am strong, precise and effective in my actions.
- I let go of the fear of future and I forgive the past.
- I am brave.
- I am compassionate.
- I am successful in everything I do.
- I am healthy.
- My spiritual potential is awakened.
- I am happy and content.
- I am confident.
- My life is balanced.
The practice of Yoga Nidra
Yoga Nidra is a very simple technique that anyone can practice. Various recordings may be found on the internet, but it is more recommended for beginners to practice with an experienced teacher. This can be done by attending their classes or listening to their recordings. The most important thing is to practice regularly, even if that means listening to the same recording every day. This allows you to follow the instructions without effort and makes the process of relaxation automatic.
Yoga Nidra is not about concentration. It is about awareness, listening and following the instructions. Concentrating too much will interfere with the natural flow of awareness that takes your mind deep inside. It doesn’t matter if you can’t hear all the instructions, if you fall asleep or you are dreaming about something else. This is completely normal. You should try and do your best to stay awake during the practice, but even if you fall asleep your subconscious mind will hear the instructions. Falling asleep is still better than concentrating too intensely.
Benefits of Yoga Nidra
Yoga Nidra works on all levels of being, and has several benefits, if practiced regularly. Studies have shown that Yoga Nidra:
- improves memory,
- improves studying by activating both hemispheres of the brain,
- prevents stress, relieves depression, anxiety and other psychological disorders,
- is a therapeutic technique for children with behavioral issues,
- prevents and cures insomnia,
- helps fighting addictions and alcoholism,
- relieves pain by stimulating the pituitary gland,
- is very beneficial during pregnancy (it prevents passing the stress from mother to child) and for menstrual issues,
- helps overcoming psychological problems in old age,
- is very effective in curing psychosomatic diseases, like cancer, bronchial asthma, colitis and peptic ulcers,
- reduces blood pressure for patients with hypertension, it also changes the levels of stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) that are secreted by the adrenal gland,
- is an effective preventive and curative procedure with cardiovascular diseases, it helps lowering cholesterol, high blood pressure and other risk factors for cardiac arrest.
It is not surprising that doctors in many countries are already prescribing Yoga Nidra as a preventive and curative therapy in the first three phases of stress related disorders.
(all info about Yoga Nidra are from the book Yoga Nidra by Swami Satyananda Saraswati)
How can you practice Yoga Nidra?
You can go to Yoga Nidra classes, practice with a teacher, or with recordings. I make Yoga Nidra recordings (English or Slovene) in mp3 format, so you can keep them on your phone or laptop and use them anytime. You can buy one or a package of 7 (or more). If you buy directly from me, I’ll give you a discounted price: 1 recording (30min long) for 15eur, or a package of 7 recordings for 80eur. If you are my regular student with an active class pass I’ll give you an extra discount!
Thank you for reading and sharing!