Yoga = union or one-pointed awareness
Nidra = non-activity of the senses, commonly known as sleep.
Ok, the big picture framework overview of yoga, as I have learned, is from the Patanjali Yoga Sutra's (over 2000 year old scripts). This framework is what is well known in the yoga world as the Eight Limbs of Yoga.
The eight limbs as defined in various texts are:
- Yama's - restraints or social/moral code of conduct
- Ahimsa - Peacefullness/non-violence
- Astheya - Generosity/non-stealing
- Bramacharya - Moderation/Abstinence
- Aparigraha - Gratitude/non-attachment
- Niyama's - spiritual observances that are inward focused on the self
- Saucha - cleanliness/purity
- Santosha - contentment/acceptance
- Tapas - austerity/passion
- Svadhaya - study/self-reflection
- Ishvara Pranidhara - surrender/devotion
- Asana - physical movement of yoga practices ( the most commonly understood form of yoga, which is practiced widely in the world )
- Pranayama - control and restraint of breath, concentration of the life force, Prana, through breath focused practice
- Pratyahara - relaxation and withdrawal of the senses, drawing our awareness internally to deactivate the monkey mind
- Dharana - concentration, the ability to direct the mind toward a chosen object and focus on it, bringing us into awareness of the present moment
- Dhyana - meditation, or the ability to focus awareness without strain
- Samadhi - contentment and surrender. The state of ecstasy where the meditator merges with their point of focus and transcends the 'self' altogether. There is the realisation of the profound connection with the divine and/or all things, living, nature. Being at one with the universe. Peace.
So... Yoga Nidra is a guided practice, a pratyahara practice. Pratyahara is the 5th limb of the Patanjali's eight limbs of yoga.
The state of relaxation is reached by turning inwards (pratyahara) where the mind is undisturbed by external experiences. It is a dance between beta, alpha, theta and delta brain wave states, depending on the part of the practice you are being guided through. It also includes a sankalpa, positive intention, that gets deeply imprinted on the sub-conscious mind, meaning that this intention will manifest in your life.
Yoga nidra becomes more powerful and life-changing the more often you can practice - or be guided through the practice.
It has the ability to release stored negative stories, things stored in our unconscious and sub-conscious minds.
Ultimately if we are able to free ourselves of tensions, we can self-heal, return to our natural state of joy and contentment, relaxation and calm peacefulness.
We currently are in constant states of tension and stress due to our over-busy, hustle-style lives, wanting to always achieve the next big thing - which is fuelled by comparing ourselves to media messages and our peers.
In general our lives are enormously stressful, out of balance, and we are relying on our in-built resilience. And when this resilience runs low, or runs out, we reach burn-out, reactivity, having little to no ability to cope with occasional stresses that life brings. So this constant hustle and the inputs of stress and tension do not allow us to self-heal.
If we all made it a priority to live stress-free lives, close to nature, sleeping well and resting a-lot, eating natural foods and lots of plants, getting regular physical exercise and fresh air and sunshine, then we would notice significant improvements in our abilities to heal ourselves of many emotional, physical and spiritual hurts and stresses. We can heal ourselves, but that is simply not possibly from the current states of stress that we all live in.
Yoga Nidra is the most powerful way to release tensions and stress, in a very short time frame, that I have ever experienced.
Through the systematic practice of Yoga Nidra; physical, emotional and mental tensions can be progressively released. The physical through the deep relaxation attained from this guided meditation conducted in savasana. The emotional by the use of dualities or opposites, that tranquillise the entire emotional structure of the mind. And the mental through deep diving into the subconscious mind, releasing tensions and establishing harmony.
This short snippet of information is a start towards providing a simple overview of this deeply effective practice.
Join the Wednesday Yoga Nidra + Breath Meditation class to experience this for yourself and to find out if it is something you would like to practice on a regular basis.