We All Need Nidra
Posted by Katie Brown, 29-Jul-2020
Yoga Nidra can create the conditions for transformative change and an even deeper experience.
Regular practice of Yoga Nidra strengthens us to burn off old habits, conditioning and samskaras so that we can establish new ways of expressing our inner nature and ultimately our true destiny.
Yoga Nidra offers us access to a limitless source of inspiration and creativity. The more we practice the more we can respond to situations with imagination, wisdom and resourcefulness. Take the first step, lie down, let go …… and express your potential.
It is accessible to all and can be practiced by anyone – all that is required is the ability to stay still and follow the instructions.
The body is placed in Shavasana (corpse pose), as this is a position that creates space between each of the limbs and minimises touch sensation, thereby reducing sensory stimulation and distraction.
Although the practice is ideally performed while lying in Shavasana it can be practiced in any comfortable posture, including sitting in a seat. This means that it can be done by anyone, irrespective of age, level of physical mobility, or health status. It is one of the few systematic yogic practices that can be practiced by those who are bed-ridden due to chronic ill health or those who are sitting upright, for example while travelling on long haul flights. The only requirement is to be still and maintain awareness.
Yoga Nidra is based on ancient tantric practices which have been adjusted to make them more accessible to the modern practitioner.
The deep state of relaxation is induced by systematically addressing the tensions in the body, mind and emotions. This is achieved by then steady progression of the mind into a deep stage of pratyahara, where the mind is gradually withdrawn from external stimuli into a still, inner state while the consciousness remains alert, on the borderline between sleep and wakefulness.
In the state of pratyahara, our awareness is expanded to the point where external stimuli and distractions are minimised. We can then gain access to the deeper levels of the psyche and experience the inner world of the mind whose language is one of symbols and images.
It is then focused on releasing the threefold tensions – physical, mental and emotional. If we experience stiffness in our joints, there is often a correlative tension in the mind; if we are feeling anxious we can also experience agitation in our breathing or fluctuations in the digestive system; when we are mentally stressed this is manifested in physiological changes in the body such as an increase in heart rate, escalated blood pressure levels, disturbed breathing patterns and a dominance of the sympathetic nervous system. Yoga Nidra progressively releases these threefold tensions in sequential progression through each of the stages of the practice.
A version of this article first appeared in Australian Yoga LIFE magazine