Tired? Stressed? Having Sleep Problems? Yoga Nidra might be your answer...
Our Hatha and Yoga Nidra Teacher Millie Thompson guides you through the basics.
What is it?
Yoga Nidra translates as yogic sleep. It is a simple technique where the mind and body are occupied by the various instructions given, effortlessly leading you into deep relaxation. Though it may be called "sleep" you aim to remain awake throughout the practice whilst reaching a sleep like level of consciousness and withdrawal of the senses.
The Yoga Nidra I teach and practice was developed by Swami Satyananda Saraswati in the 1940’s and 50’s. He derived his method from the tantric practice of nyasa (a Hindu concept), simplifying and making it accessible and practical for the modern yogi irrespective of religion or culture.
Why should I do it?
The benefits of a Yoga Nidra practice are numerous and it's great because anyone can do it; it’s easy to continue with home practice at any time of day and if you are short of time you can do short sessions of around 10 minutes.
It is fabulous for reducing stress and calming the nervous system. Practitioners report better sleep, becoming less reactive (having a longer fuse in stressful situations), letting go of tensions and anxieties. Being able to cope better with life in general is a serious side effect of Yoga Nidra; through gradually turning inwards from the gross physical to the more subtle you become an observer of your reactions and the workings of your mind. As you develop your practice it can be used as a tool to release old habits or mental grooves that may be holding you back in some way.
What should I expect in a class?
Yoga Nidra is best incorporated as part of a class after your physical yoga practice; You'll lie down on your mat, making sure you will be warm enough as your body will cool down during relaxation - pop your socks on and cover yourself with a blanket. Then all you have to do is follow the voice and enter this wonderful and relaxing world...
A Yoga Nidra practice can last anywhere between 10 and 45 minutes (15-20 minutes in my Thursday class at The Wellness Rooms) and is always finished by gently bringing you back to your physical body so you are OK to leave the building and cross the road safely, completely relaxed and trouble free with a more positive perspective and most importantly one step closer to where you ultimately want to be.
During the practice you might be asked to repeat to yourself a "sankalpa". This is your own personal intention. It is a short positive statement said in the present tense, an intent aimed at shifting your life in a positive direction when the mind is relaxed and receptive. Think of it as planting a seed in fertile ground. An example for someone who wants to resolve anger or impatience could be ‘I am peaceful’ a smoker might use a sankalpa stating ‘I enjoy perfect health’. The intention is not directed at a specific problem, it is broader than that, focusing on where you want to head in life; something that resonates with you. It may take a lot of thought to come up with the right words, but they will come. If you don’t like or get the idea of a sankalpa then you don’t have to have one! You will still retain the benefits of your Yoga Nidra practice.
Still not sure?
Then how about a free 20 minute session for you to try at home? I've recorded a Yoga Nidra practice especially for you.
Before you begin lie down on a yoga mat or blanket on the floor. Make sure you will be warm enough; wear socks and cover yourself with a blanket. Turn off your phone and make sure you won't be disturbed for the duration!
Suitable for beginners.
www.syclondon.com - Satyananda Yoga centre – CD’s available for purchase, Yoga Nidra Teacher Training
http://www.yogameditation.com/reading-room/pictures-of-the-brains-activity-during-yoga-nidra/ - Research showing brain activity during YN through PET scans.
Book - Yoga Nidra. 2003 – Swami Satyananda Saraswati.