Yoga Nidra - a journey to letting go.
“At the point of meaningful rest when sleep has not yet come and external wakefulness vanishes, at this point being is revealed” (Vigyana Bhairava Tantra)
Yoga Nidra, the powerful technique from the Tantra Yoga tradition, allows you to relax and heal your entire being, expand your imagination, enter the realm of subconscious and superconscious being, and assist in reaching a state, called by some, of enlightenment, Samadhi or Nirvana.
No wonder the ancient yogic practice was kept secret by the Indian Yogis, potentially for centuries, until the 1960’s when it was introduced to western students by Parmahansa Satyanada Sarawasti. And now this mystical practice is accessible to you!
The ability to remain fully awake and aware is not only accessible to advanced practitioners but it can occur spontaneously the first time. Referred to by some as a state of trance, lucid dreaming or an altered state of consciousness, Yoga Nidra is an extremely safe practice, yet may evoke some deep seated emotions. It is quite possibly the easiest of yogic practices to follow with the minimum of effort. There is no way to do the practice ‘wrong’; you quite simply listen without trying too hard.
It’s perfect for beginners, even the very restless ones, it’s an ideal practice for someone who is fairly new to yoga as it adds a whole new dimension to savasana; experienced yogis love it!
Yoga Nidra, sleep of the Yogi, takes place in savasana. Getting very comfortable in savasana is one of the key benefits of the practice. For absolute beginners to yoga this may be the most profound experience, the ability to relax at will, the ability to surrender the physical body and allow it to be fully supported and held by the earth beneath. Often beginners find, despite never reaching a state of ‘switching off’ from the busy thoughts of the mind, they cultivate the ability to be still, to be comfortable with whatever arises in thoughts, feelings and sensations. Yoga Nidra is often, for this reason, hailed as an aid to falling asleep. Falling asleep during the practice, particularly in the beginning, is very common. Even if you do fall asleep you will receive peripheral benefits as your subconscious mind remains aware of everything that you take in. In the ultimate Yoga Nidra experience, however, the mind is fully awake and aware and yet fully asleep (even while snoring audibly!)
In the stillness of savasana my voice guides your consciousness on a tour of the whole body in a structured fashion, the rotation of awareness. During the rotation of awareness you visualise the body part mentioned without moving it, you are literally shifting awareness. This stage of the practice is conducive to detachment from the external world, pratyahara. Concentrating on a single body part focuses the attention rigorously on one point. Prolonged concentration, dhyana, saturates the mind until it permeates to the source of existence, then the intellectual and conscious energy dissolve into the seat of the soul. It is then that samadhi, when you lose the sense of your separate existence, is attained. Awareness of nothing else remains except the core of one’s being, the soul.
After rotation of the consciousness focusing the attention on the act of breathing completes physical relaxation. My voice guides you through breath awareness techniques. Often at this stage of the practice practitioners report they drift in and out of conscious hearing, some are well and truly asleep.
The final state of Yoga Nidra relates to mental relaxation. You will try to visualise a series of objects as described by me This aspect of the practice helps to develop self-awareness, faculties of imagination, and instinctual reactions to concepts within the deepest part of the psyche. The experience can be quietening and calming, yet fascinating and exhilarating.
Towards the end of the practice you will be guided back to awareness of the breath, awareness of the floor beneath you and will gradually guide your attention back to the present moment.
For those who use Yoga Nidra as an aid to sleeping the audio recording just switches off when it's over.
For all practitioners there is a sense that Yoga Nidra is place on an ongoing journey towards the liberation of the self, a journey of observing the experience of releasing, of expansion, of resting in stillness, quietness and peace. In other words, as you drop through all the layers of your outer self, seeing everything on the way down, you become aware of all those layers themselves. This awareness can be brought back on returning to normal waking consciousness. You are gifted a sense of space within yourself, a sense of time and a consciousness needed to help choose what to say, how to respond, what direction to go in, in each moment. Witnessing and sensing physical release as the body sheds layer after layer of tension and holding is one of the most blissful yet practical aspects of the practice.