Yoga Nidra: A Complete Guide to Ancient Deep Relaxation Practice
This is part 1 of the series on Yoga Nidra.
Sometimes, to achieve more, you have to let go of things that hold you back. We are talking about things that cloud your senses, such as insecurity, stress, low self-esteem, fear, anger, and other negative thoughts. When these thoughts overpower you, it results in suffering, desolation, and low productivity.
The best way to win over these negative thoughts is to practice Yoga Nidra, the art of doing nothing.
Yoga Nidra takes you to the higher realms of consciousness where you realize your true potential. You attain a state of awareness where you realize that the thoughts influencing your mind are temporary objects. These thoughts will come and go, but you will remain forever.
Once you achieve this state of mind, you will become a self-realized soul, determined to fulfill your duties, without subjecting to temporary influences of this physical world. And the simplest way to achieve this state is by practicing Yoga Nidra – the ancient art of relaxing the mind and elevating the consciousness.
Are you excited to know more? Let us now dive deeper into the world of Yoga Nidra.
What is Yoga Nidra?
Yoga Nidra – also known as Psychic Sleep, Yogic Sleep, and Dynamic Sleep – is an ancient technique of attaining a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping. It’s a way of inducing deep relaxation and at the same time, being aware of the inner consciousness.
Confusing? Let us talk about Yoga Nidra definition in detail.
To understand Yoga Nidra, you must know about the three states of consciousness that influence human existence. These are:
• Jagriti or Jaagrut (Conscious) – Wakeful State of Mind – When the mind is connected to the external environment. It relies on the sensory organs to receive and interpret signals from the surroundings.
• Swapna (Subconscious) – Dream State – The mind drifts into the world of dreams. It’s the state between the external world and the inner world.
• Sushupti (Unconscious) – Deep Sleep – The mind slips into an unconscious state wherein you have no connection with the outer world. You are not even aware of the flow of time.
So when you are awake, your mind and body are in a wakeful state. You are conscious of the activities happening around you. But when you sleep, you enter into a dream state (subconscious) or deep sleep state (unconscious) of mind. Your awareness shifts to these states and you are not aware of the outside world. Your body also slips into the rest mode.
Now in Yoga Nidra, your body moves into a state of rest (relaxation), but your mind is awake. Yoga Nidra is an art of inducing a state of rest without falling asleep. The mind attains a state wherein it is connected to the conscious state as well as the unconscious state.
Yoga Nidra helps you in attaining pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses). You listen to a set of instructions, similar to a guided meditation, to shift awareness from the outside world to the inner world. Besides pratyahara, you also practice pranayama (breathing techniques) and dharana (concentration) to enter a relaxed and conscious state.
Practicing Yoga Nidra takes you into self-awareness mode, wherein you can consciously watch and analyze your samskaras (impressions of the mind). The samskaras are the result of your experiences from the past. Based on the nature of experiences, the samskaras manifest in the form of suffering, happiness, contentment, and other humanly states.
Yoga Nidra helps you in breaking the bonds associated with the samskaras, tensions, and other negative habits. You undergo a spiritual as well as emotional evolution. You attain higher levels of consciousness and become more receptive to people and situations in your life. Ultimately, you evolve as a better human being, possessing a positive outlook towards life.
How does Yoga Nidra work?
Swami Satyananda Saraswati – who popularized the practice of modern Yoga Nidra in the mid-twentieth century – says Yoga Nidra is attaining a state between waking and sleeping states. The body is at rest, but the mind is active. As a practitioner, you can experience it by practicing Yoga Nidra under the guidance of a Yoga Nidra expert.
There is a scientific explanation for Yoga Nidra as well. Different states of consciousness are marked by different levels of brain activity, measured in the form of brainwave patterns. So when you are awake, your brain emits a particular brainwave pattern. And when you are asleep, the brain emits different types of brainwave pattern.
An electroencephalogram (EEG) test is conducted to measure the intensity of these brainwave patterns in cycles per second (cps). Let us have a look at the brainwave patterns for different states, including Yoga Nidra.
|State of Consciousness||Psychological Name||Brainwave Pattern||Characteristics|
|Alert Wakefulness||Conscious Mind||Beta (frequency > 13 cps)||Receptive to the external world through sensory organs|
|Relaxed Wakefulness (Yoga Nidra)||Superconscious mind (Transition from Conscious to Subconscious & Unconscious state)||Alpha (8 – 13 cps)||Deep & conscious relaxation, a state of drowsiness|
|Dreaming Sleep||Subconscious Mind||Beta (3 – 7 cps)||Dreams appear, the brain is awake, body paralyzed|
|Deep Sleep||Unconscious Mind||Delta (frequency < 4 cps)||Disengagement of the mind and consciousness, body restoration takes place|
Yoga Nidra, or the Sleep of the Yogis, induces the Alpha brainwave pattern. Once you enter this meditative state, your heart rate slows down, muscle relaxation takes place, and the autonomic nervous system kicks in. The process stimulates the pineal gland that, in turn, releases melatonin – a hormone that reduces stress and boosts the immune system. Your mind and body start to rejuvenate.
Now the question arises – how to practice Yoga Nidra and rejuvenate your mind and body? Let us proceed ahead and look at the Yoga Nidra practice popularized by Swami Satyananda Saraswati.
Learn Yoga Nidra
Yoga Nidra is an ancient art devised by the Yogis and excelled by the Yoga experts. Whether you want to live a stress-free life or you want to open the door to opportunities, Yoga Nidra can assist you in both cases.
You need an instructor who can guide you through the complete process of Yoga Nidra, and help you in exploring the depths of consciousness within you. Get in touch with a Yoga Nidra expert to embark on the journey of self-awareness.
Learn Yoga Nidra at Jeevmoksha Yoga Gurukul Rishikesh.