Yoga Nidra - Learning To Consciously Relax

by Sandra Radja

Imagine a technique that can help to reform deep rooted fear, anger and addictions.   This is a technique that is simple and effortless and requires laying comfortably in Savasana (dead man’s pose) for about 45 minutes whilst the instructor talks you through a series of mind-body rotation, breathing rhythms and visualizations .  It’s called yoga nidra, defining yoga as one-pointed awareness and nidra as sleep.

I’ve travelled through India a few times and the one aspect of their lifestyle that I enjoy seeing very much is the ability of the Indians to just sit and hang out.  Maybe it’s because it’s too hard to move around 1.7 billion people or it’s just too damn hot; whatever the cause and effect it’s nice to observe.  Back in the West, it seems the Parks Department has made an attempt at the same.  Have you ever noticed random park benches in the oddest areas?  It’s usually the elderly that learn to occupy these, perhaps because life is slower at that end of the spectrum.  But what about the rest of us bustling little fire ants?  After so much effort and tension getting through the day, when do you take a few moments here and there to unwind?  And if so, do you really feel rejuvenated after it or just momentarily distracted?

Yoga Nidra is that sweet spot between being fully awake and in deep sleep.  The conscious mind is known for rejection.  Based on personal experience, it learns to behave the way it was taught and see the world in a limited capacity.  It figures, I’m alive and still kicking so I’m just going to go with what I know to survive.  It takes faith to release that hold and believe in a benevolent universe and how wonderful to know that we can consciously learn to ease our pain and suffering without pills or alcohol. 

The practice of Yoga Nidra enables one to receive intuitions from the unconscious mind. This state is the fount of artistic and poetic inspiration.
— Swami Satyananda Saraswati.

In this technique you remain fully awake whilst you gently encourage the conscious mind and body to relax and let go.  It’s important that you remain fully awake, and unlike hypnosis, you are in control of your state and the personal changes you wish to encourage.  When the body and mind are in that receptive state it is open to healing.  If you want healthy relationships, then this is the time to tell yourself that.  If you want to send love and healing to a part of your body or mind then this is the time to tell yourself that.  Let yourself know you are ready for a positive change.  Your subconscious mind doesn’t reject.  As you plant the positive seed in your mind in this state it will start to feed your daily habits. 

Yoga Nidra helps to erase muscular tensions related to the body, nervous system and endocrinal imbalances.  Emotional tensions, which can lay dormant and repressed, can be neutralized through the practice.  Mental tensions as a result of excessive mental activity can be released to help establish a more harmonious way of being. 

And as a side benefit, you now have a natural technique to help induce sleep.