Medical researchers estimate that up to 90% of illness and disease is related to stress, from something as slight as a cold to the more crippling ailments of heart disease and cancer. It seems that no matter what you do – whether you work too much or not at all- you still accumulate tension at the physical, mental, and emotional levels. While certainly Yoga can help, stress and tension run deep and many require more attention.
Yoga Nidra, translates as “psychic sleep”. This practice induces complete relaxation while maintaining consciousness. In this state, you can ultimately change thought patters for the better. Yogis through the ages have used the technique to purify ‘samskaras’, or the deep impressions and conditioned behaviours that are the driving forces behind our habitual negative reactions. Even if deep transformation is not your aim, you will emerge from Yoga Nidra feeling rested and ready to engage in the world. (A 20- to 30- minute session of Yoga Nidra is said to be the equivalent of approximately three hours of deep sleep!)
Practice Yoga Nidra in Savasana ( Corpse Pose), as you follow the spoken instruction of a teacher or a recording. In the first phase of the session, you progressively relax your muscles by rotating awareness through different parts of your body. This phase is followed by other tantric meditations: awareness of your whole body, brain, and internal organs; awakening the sensations of polar opposites; and feeling contact between the earth and your body. The last phase is a rapid visualization of various images from nature and abstract symbols.
The movement of awareness through different parts of the body, especially when done routinely over time, not only relaxes them, it also clears nerve pathways to their parallel regions in the part of the brain. One result is less-fragmented awareness.
Next, the meditation on polar opposites stimulates the centers of the brain responsible for maintaining harmony between inner and outer environments. The helps to balance our basic drives. Finally, when asked to visualize the various symbols rapidly, the conscious mind has no time to react. You remain detached, and the ego becomes temporarily inactive. This phase help to resolve suppressed conflicts, desires, memories, and samskaras.