The Significance of Yoga Nidra
The Sanskrit word Yoga means ‘union’and Nidra means ‘sleep’. In Yoga Nidra, the body, mind and spirit are completely relaxed and one appears to be sleeping but the consciousness is functioning at a deeper level, and the subconscious and unconscious realms of mind get opened up. So yoga nidra is in other words called as ‘psychic sleep’ in which you learn to relax consciously.
Sleep is only restful for our sensate beings, our conscious minds, and our bodies. Sleep does not rejuvenate our inner selves, the subconscious and psychic, or spiritual, aspects of our beings; these are left to wander wild in the process of sleep, which our awareness interprets as dreaming. In Yoga Nidra, we remain alert in a kind of “psychic sleep,” guiding our beings to a state of genuine relaxation that can take us to a higher level of self-realization.
Benefits may include the following:
*Increased energy, feeling of restfulness
*Alleviation of addiction (over time)
*Alleviation of symptoms of some psychosomatic illnesses and chronic pain
*Improved memory and imagination
*Easing of mental and physical tensions
*Development of willpower
*Improved overall sense of wellbeing
There are Eight Essential Steps in the Process:
1.Preparation: The practitioner finds a restful position in Savasana. Props, pillows, blankets and eye bags can be used to ensure comfort. It is very important that the body remain completely still during the meditation.
2.Resolve: Before entering the complete state of relaxation, the practitioner is invited to set an intention or resolve. This may be anything from feeling rested to improving health or breaking a bad habit. This practice is based on the theory that an open and relaxed subconscious is instantly receptive to thought. It is essential that this resolve or intention is be stated positively and in present tense as the subconscious fixates on negative language and can not hear the overall message. For example, “I will not lie,” is not as effective a message for the brain as “I am truthful.” Likewise, “I am rested,” is more effective than “I will not be tired.”
3.Rotation of Consciousness: By guiding the mental awareness through a specific sequence throughout the body, the practitioner simultaneously relaxes the anatomical parts of the body and the associated neuropathways.
4.Awareness of the Breath: Once the body is relaxed, awareness centers on the breath, the prime energy mover in our beings.
5.Feelings and Sensations: Permission is given to the emotional self to let go of negative thoughts such as judgment, anxiety, and fear.
6.Visualization: Here, the mind embarks on a journey of imagery and storytelling, usually with a definite goal, which relaxes mental activity.
7.Ending the Practice: The final image of a Yoga Nidra typically creates a sense of joy, peacefulness, or calmness within the practitioner, making the subconscious self receptive to our intentions, which are restated in the mind at this time.
8.Awakening: Awareness is brought back to the outer layers of the self gently by deepening the breath to awaken the mind and gently stretching to enliven the body.
Yoga Nidra can be applied as both a primary therapeutic tool in certain situations, and as an adjunctive treatment for many acute and chronic physical and psychological disease conditions. These conditions include heart disease, high blood pressure, asthma, diabetes, digestive problems of all kinds, arthritis, other chronic degenerative conditions, and some acute conditions, such as coughs and colds.
Research On Yoganidra:
This picture is based on the data gathered prior to and following Yoga Nidra. It illustrates the state closest to normal waking consciousness, though without being a tired or stressed state. Those who use Yoga Nidra remark that not only do they get something out of the deep relaxation while doing it, but that it has a definite beneficial effect on the remaining part of their day.
In this picture it is the frontal part of the brain, responsible for the overall
management, which is active. One of its capacities is to ensure that we can function in a complex society, as it processes the signals from the deeper emotional and instinctive regions of the brain.
The brain stem and the cerebellum are also active, indicating that one is ‘ready for action’.
This picture shows the general state during the entire Yoga Nidra. The visual centre at the back of the head and the somatosensory center at the top of the head (for the sense of touch and body position)are active and are in contact with the limbic system. This implies an increased ability to visualise and, more importantly, that there is better contact with emotions.
Some of the teachers also had distinct activity in the centre for long term memory, which is consistent with accounts from people who meditate, that very lucid memories can appear during or after a meditation.
We must, however, emphasise that the subjects’ experience and regular use of Kriya Yoga possibly intensifies the effects of Yoga Nidra.
This picture is created on the basis of measurements taken during the feeling of happiness and at the end of the relaxation during the experience of identity, of being centred. During these ‘abstract experiences’ in Yoga Nidra, the centre for speech and language was especially active.
It must be said, however, that this and the next picture only show the areas where the most activity occurs, and not the general activity in the whole brain, as is shown in picture 2.
It was primarily the visual and tactile centres which were active as the subjects went through the body’s different parts (especially the face) and also when they experienced a pleasant summer day in the country.