In this stressful world, where most of the people are deprived of a good sound sleep according to their age group, one could find solace in practicing Yoga Nidra for deep sleep. Yoga Nidra or Yogic Sleep is a very powerful relaxation technique that you can do after you gain some control over the relaxation response. When practiced successfully, this technique is as restorative as sleep – except you remain fully aware throughout.
During Yogic Sleep, try to focus (in relatively quick succession) on individual parts of the body. Mentally name each part, then feel it as distinctly as possible. In the beginning, you may find it difficult to actually “feel” certain body parts. Do not give up, but continue to rotate your awareness. Later, as you become more skilled at this technique, you can slow down the rotation and feel each part ever more distinctly.
Practice Yoga Nidra before actual sleep, because it’s an excellent technique for inducing lucid dreaming and out-of-the-body experiences during sleep.
The method of Yoga Nidra:
- Lie flat on your back, with your arms stretched out by your sides, palms up (or whatever feels most comfortable)
- Close your eyes
- Form a clear intention
- Take a couple of deep breaths, emphasizing exhalation
- Start with your right side, rotate your awareness through all parts of the body – limb by limb – in fairly quick succession.
Become aware of each finger, palm of the hand, back of the hand, the hand as a whole, forearm, elbow, upper arm, shoulder joint, shoulder, neck, each section of the face (forehead, eyes, nose, chin, and so on), ear, scalp, throat, chest, side of the rib cage, shoulder blade, waist, stomach, lower abdomen, genitals, buttocks, whole spine, thigh, top and back of knee, shin, calf, ankle, top of foot, heel, sole, each toe.
- Be aware of your body as a whole
- Repeat the rotation one or more times until adequate depth of relaxation is achieved, always ending with whole-body awareness
- Be aware of the whole body and the space surrounding it
Feel the stillness and peace
- Reaffirm your initial intention
- Mentally prepare to return to ordinary consciousness
- Gently move your fingers for a few moments, take a deep breath, and then open your eyes
No time limit applies to your Yoga Nidra performance unless you impose one. Expect to come out of Yogic Sleep naturally, whether you return after only 15 minutes or a whole hour. Or you may just fall asleep.
Traditional Understanding of the Practice
Yoga Nidra (Sanskrit for Yogic Sleep) is a powerful technique from the Tantra Yoga tradition. It is both a name of a state and of a practice which creates an altered state of consciousness allowing the practitioner to relax and heal their being, expand their faculty of imagination, enter the realm of subconscious and superconscious.
Yoga Nidra, although originally a part of Tantra Yoga, can be classified as a part of the Raja Yoga system’s Eight Limbs of Yoga, the well-known codification system of the Yogic practices by Patanjali. In fact, three of the eight limbs of yoga can be seen in this practice:
- Pranayama: Control of breathing through specialized exercises and the subsequent ability to amass, control and direct Prana, the life energy force.
- Pratyahara: Control over the sensory mechanisms of the physical body specifically through exercises which deal with willful withdrawal of the senses and influences of the mind
- Dharana: Concentration, cultivation, and heightening of inner perceptual awareness.
The Three Main Traditional Aspects of Yoga Nidra Practice
- A systematic method of inducing complete mental, physical and emotional relaxation while maintaining awareness at deeper levels
- A way to manifest any desire (physical, mental or spiritual)
- A method of altering karma and finding Moksha (Liberation)
The most easily observable effect of the Yoga Nidra practice is the extremely deep relaxation of the nervous system and healing of the body by allowing it the rest and recharge it usually lacks in our all too busy lifestyles. Yoga Nidra has been clinically shown to be one of the most powerful methods available to achieve this state of deep relaxation and sedation without the use of any chemical agents. Increased awareness is achieved as the person tries to stimulate various parts of the brain by focusing the awareness on the corresponding parts of the body.
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