What is yoga nidra?
Yoga nidra is a systematic method of inducing complete physical, mental and emotional relaxation. The term yoga nidra is derived from two Sanskrit words, yoga meaning union or one-pointed awareness and nidra meaning sleep.
During the practice of yoga nidra it may appear that you are asleep, but your consciousness is functioning on a deeper level of awareness. The state of relaxation is reached by turning inwards and away from external experiences.
The Art of Relaxation
During the last century, the way of life has changed greatly throughout the world. There is more and more pressure on us to perform and often meet unrealistic goals. We are a society that is overworked, exhausted and prone to more diseases and illnesses than before.
Our bodies have tension. If you work, you have tensions, if you sleep too much or too little there is tension, what you eat and do creates tensions in the body.
In yoga we try to deal with tensions by stretching and strengthening the body to release physical tensions in the body but what about mental and emotional? The practice of yoga nidra can help with this.
Three types of tensions
We have muscular tensions which relate to the body itself, the nervous system and endocrine imbalances.
Emotional tensions can be love, hate, profit, loss, success, failure, happiness, unhappiness, depression and these are more difficult to erase. Often times we suppress these emotions and aren’t able to freely express them and be open.
Mental tensions are the result of excessive mental activity. The mid is full of thoughts, experiences, wishes and desires. Throughout life, our experiences registered by the consciousness are accumulated in the mental body. These can often explode and affect the mind, body, our behaviours and reactions.
Most of us think relaxation is easy – just close your eyes and breathe deeply. You are tired so you go to sleep and think that is relaxation. But only when you are free from muscular, mental and emotional tensions, are you relaxed.
Yoga nidra means sleep with a trace of awareness. It is the state of mind in between wakefulness and dream. If every area of the brain, there are millions and millions of impressions stored in the form of archetypes. These archetypes are the sum total of each and every experience of your life. Similar to have a camera registered whatever has been photographed, every experience we have, consciously or even unconsciously is registered by the subconscious mind.
States of anxiety, depression, frustration and anger are accompanied by a variety of physical response include heart palpations, excessive sweating, diarrhoea , indigestion, headache and weakness. These responses are the outcome of how the body responses and reacts to stress.
Yoga nidra counteracts stress
In many countries, doctors prescribe yoga nidra as a preventative and curative therapy in the first three stages of stress related disease. During the practice of yoga nidra, the organs and systems of the body attain deep, physiological rest and the body’s regenerative mechanism are set into motion. As a result, the body becomes more balanced and becomes stress resistance.
Yoga for Fertility
For women, yoga nidra can help relive physical pain from menstrual disorders such as endometriosis, painful periods and help to regulate your cycle.
If your trying to get pregnant and haven’t been successful, you may have undergone tests to see if there is an underlying issue physically in the body. It can be frustrating if there isn’t a medical reason why you can’t get pregnant but stresses in the body and mind can contribute to this.
The body holds on to stress including past experiences and future thoughts and goals. Letting go of stress and being relaxed is hard to do. Stress hormones such as adrenaline and noradrenalin can bring about hormonal imbalances and disturbances in the endocrine system.
Letting go of thoughts, emotions and what ifs can be challenging and is easier said than done. By adapting a yoga nidra practice, you can help your mind and body heal.
Exercise for fertility
Each week during our fertility yoga classes, we explore postures to help stretch and strengthen the body and prepare it for yoga nidra. Our classes at Padma Yogi focus on opening the heart, bring more blood flow to the reproductive organs and stretched overworked and tired limbs. Our class ends with a 15-minute guide yoga nidra practice.
To try yoga nidra at home, follow these steps
Find a comfortable place to lie, ideally on a flat surface. You may get cold and cover yourself with a blanket or shawl.
Allow your entire body to go limb and starting from your feet travelling up to your head, go through various body parts repeating “ my toes are relaxed, my toes are relaxed, my toes are completely relaxed” continue until you reach your crown.
Then move internally to your internal organs “my heart is relaxed, my heart is relaxed, my heart is completely relaxed”.
After you have finished, lie in stillness for 10 to 20 minutes.
Once finished, move slowly by first bringing gentle movements to the body and when feel ready, slowly sit up to seated. Your practice of yoga nidra is complete.