Yoga nidra: To live free of stress

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Nandhini Sadasivam

According to medical research, 80 per cent to 90 per cent of diseases and illness are caused due to stress. The word nidra means sleep in Sanskrit. The aim of this practice is to make the body sleep while the mind remains awake and alert. This practice gives complete relaxation to the whole body while maintaining consciousness. This stage between wakefulness and sleep is called hypnogogic state where we can stimulate creativity and healing energies.

Procedure: As you lay down in savasana closing your eyes, assist the mind to go inwards. You can open your eyes whenever you need to.

It is initiated by setting an intention or heartfelt desire, sequentially scanning and sensing body parts, tuning into natural breath, cultivating the awareness of your body and welcoming the arising emotions, thoughts and beliefs. Finally, rest in total awareness of your body and eventually generate the joy.

Training the mind: With regular practice of yoga nidra the behaviour of the mind changes. Any psychosomatic imbalance becomes easier to correct and your activities can be restored. This practice has the capacity of penetrating deep into human minds. We become burdened on a daily basis due to the information perceived by our senses. But when we get deeper into our mind, the tiredness and fatigue of the mind is no more, one gets to the root of creativity.

While practising yoga nidra, one needs to completely relax. One should follow instructions given by the guide which will help open the doors of one’s inner being. However, it does not matter if you miss a few instructions, what is important is that you keep listening to the voice.

The subconscious: Practising yoga nidra is mainly to unlock stored up contents of the subconscious mind which is only manifested during dreams. Therefore, in this state of sleepless sleep we train our mind to enter the state between sleep and wakefulness with awareness.

Everything that we experience in our daily life through the senses and even in thoughts leaves an imprint on the mind. The experiences of previous lives, early childhood and maturity are all registered in the unconscious mind. When people begin to practice yoga nidra and meditation on a regular basis, they tend to remember earlier experiences they had previously forgotten. This indicates that the material of the unconscious mind is beginning to manifest. Often the recollection of these experiences is different from the original experience, and sometimes it will apparently bear no relation to the original experience at all.

In the practice of yoga nidra after entering the state of deep relaxation, you come to the last stage which is to dissociate from the body and mind. When you dive into your own consciousness, as in yoga nidra, your awareness passes through various stages. As you go on practising, you dive deeper from the physical awareness to the pranic awareness, from pranic awareness to mental awareness and enter the subconscious mind. At this stage the conscious of senses are withdrawn and you become aware of the mental manifestations, dreams and visions, therefore increasing your self-knowledge and memory. The nature and personality of the person can be transformed by eliminating many vicious habits of thinking and living. This is the ultimate experience of yoga nidra, the illumination of the unconscious mind to reveal the super conscious state.

Yoga nidra counteracts stress: Yoga nidra is now prescribed by doctors in many corners of the world as a preventive and curative therapy for stress-related disease. In addition, it is also effective in managing psychosomatic disorders that have progressed to a severe or structurally irreversible stage. Here yoga nidra provides relief, alleviates depression and longstanding anxiety. Regular practice of yoga nidra induces a significant decrease in the blood pressure, alerts stress hormones, and also all stress related disorders. It has been found to effectively reduce emotional stress and improve the psychological well-being of those suffering from anxiety.

Ultimate awareness: The movement of awareness through different parts of the body, especially when done routinely over time, not only relaxes but also clears nerve pathways to their parallel regions in this part of the brain. When you are asked to visualise various parts rapidly the conscious mind has no time react. You remain detached and ego becomes temporarily inactive. This helps to resolve suppressed conflicts, desires and memories. Twenty to 30 minutes of yoga nidra is said to be equivalent to three hours of sleep.

The next time you are feeling run down, roll out your mat and fast-forward to savasana. Then, enjoy diving into the deep mystery of yoga nidra!

(Writer is naturopathy and yoga consultant at Traya Natural Health Centre, Dona Paula and can be reached at wellnesstraya@gmail.com)

A session on Dynamic Hatha yoga will be conducted today at 4:30 p.m. at ICG, Dona Paula