Yoga nidra is a systematic method of inducing complete physical, mental and emotional relaxation, a powerful technique that teaches conscious relaxation.
In yoga nidra, sleep is not regarded as relaxation. True relaxation is a state and an experience far more profound than that. For absolute relaxation, a degree of awareness is required. This is yoga nidra, the state of dynamic sleep.
The word “yoga nidra” is derived from two Sanskrit words, “yoga”, meaning union, or one pointed awareness, and “nidra”, meaning sleep.
During the practice of yoga nidra, one appears to be asleep, but the consciousness is functioning at a deeper level of awareness. For this reason, yoga nidra is often referred to as “psychic sleep”, or deep relaxation with inner awareness. In this threshold state between sleep and wakefulness, contact with the subconscious and unconscious dimensions occurs spontaneously.
Sleep is not a state of total unconsciousness. When one is asleep, there remains a state of potentiality, a form of awareness that is awake and fully alert to outer situations. By training the mind, with yoga nidra, it is possible to utilise this state.
(You should not be worried if you do go to sleep during yoga nidra, but you should try not to. You should try to keep awake, because if you sleep, then it is not yoga nidra.)
Therefore, yoga nidra refers to a quality of sleep with a trace of awareness. It is a state of mind in between wakefulness and dream. When you practice yoga nidra you are opening the deeper phases of your mind. At this moment, your intellectual mind is operating, but when you are able to relax, the subconscious and unconscious levels of the mind open.
If you practice yoga nidra, then the nature of your mind can be changed, diseases can be affected positively, and creativity accessed and enhanced. The subconscious and the unconscious mind are the most powerful forces in the human being. This simple practice of yoga nidra has the capacity of penetrating into the depths of the human mind.
The subconscious mind is a very obedient disciple, and immediately carries out orders that are put to it. If you know how to practice yoga nidra, you can train your subconscious mind completely. Then the ordinary mind and intellect will follow suit.
In yoga nidra, the state of relaxation is reached by turning inwards, away from outer experiences. If the consciousness can be separated from external awareness and from sleep, it becomes very powerful and can be applied in many ways, such as to develop memory capacity, increase knowledge and creativity, or transform one’s nature.
When relaxation is complete, receptivity is greater. When the consciousness is connected to all the senses, the receptivity is less. This is the secret of yoga nidra.
In yoga nidra, the consciousness is in a state between waking and sleeping, but is subject to neither. Modern psychology calls this the hypnogogic state. In this state, the mind is exceptionally receptive. Suggestions given at this time are successful in removing unwanted habits and tendencies, and yoga nidra can be used for directing the mind to accomplish anything. Intuitions received in yoga nidra enable one to find internal answers to problems, and one’s true nature and integrity manifests. The Tripura Rahasya states “Therefore, realise with a still mind your true nature, which is the one pure, undivided consciousness underlying the restless mind which is composed of the whole universe in all its diversity. Realise, with a still mind, the state between sleep and wakefulness… This is the real Self, inherent in which one is no longer deluded.”
If you have certain habits or beliefs patterns that you want to overcome, then suitable seeds, or ‘sankalpas’ should be first put into the unconscious. Whatever impression you plant within the subconscious mind cannot be rejected. It will grow and the fruits will enrich every aspect of your life.
Sankalpa is a Sanskrit word that can be translated as resolve or resolution. It is a powerful method for reshaping thought patterns and creating positive life direction.
The Sankalpa takes the form of a short, positive, mental statement, which is impressed on the subconscious mind when it is receptive and sensitive to autosuggestion during yoga nidra. The Sankalpa has to be made when your mind is calm and quiet. Before and after the practice of yoga nidra there is a short period dedicated to making your Sankalpa. The resolve you make at the beginning of the practice is like sowing a seed and the resolve at the end is like irrigating it. For it to be successful, the Sankalpa needs to be made when the mind is clear and calm, and with feeling and strength. It should be made when the mind is relaxed and ready to accept and absorb it. Such a state occurs during yoga nidra.
This deep and powerful resolve will eventually manifest itself at a conscious level and bring about changes in your personality, if you wish it, and in your life.
Yoga nidra is a transformative practice. Through it’s practice, we are not only relaxing, but restructuring and reforming our whole personality from within. Like the mythological phoenix, with each session, we are burning old thought patterns, habits and tendencies, in order to be born anew. Release of tension, relaxation and peace of mind are the secret of transformation.
“Jane is the best and the most experienced yoga teacher certainly in Norfolk and perhaps in the UK. She lives, walks and breathes the practice that she teaches. Her awareness, deep connection and the purity of her energy make a difference for everyone who is looking for help with physical challenges and also mind, body and spirit alliance. I highly recommend Jane’s sessions, classes and seminars, simply BEING around her is a gift.”