As published in Le monde au naturel magazine, May 2018
What do you do to relax? Read a book? Listen to music? Watch a movie? And if all this were only sensory diversions that allowed only a relaxation on the surface? And if it was possible to reach a much deeper and complete state of relaxation that not only allows us relaxation but also regeneration and healing?
Yoga Nidra is a stage of dynamic sleep. It is a recognized systemic method that induces complete relaxation at the physical, mental and emotional levels. Yoga Nidra is a Sanskrit word meaning (Yoga): union, or consciousness in one point and (Nidra): sleep. As defined by Kamakhya Kumar, Professor at the Uttarakhand Sanskrit University in India, Yoga Nidra is a state of consciousness that is neither sleepy nor waking, neither concentration nor hypnosis. It can be defined as an altered state of consciousness. For a period of six months, he conducted a study on the effect of Yoga Nidra on students living with high levels of stress and anxiety. The study was conclusive, the practice of Yoga Nidra decreased anxiety and stress in the subjects, female and male, who experienced it. The one who practices Yoga Nidra slowly becomes more aware of his own potential and thus, prevents the mechanisms that made him a victim of stress. Yoga Nidra acted on the nervous system of the subjects of the study by relaxing not only the body but also the mind.
Several other studies have been conducted to measure the effects of this ancient practice of Yoga Nidra, including that of Danish researchers from the Kennedy Institute of Copenhagen, Dr. Hans Lou and Dr. Troels Kjaer. They managed to take pictures of the brain during Yoga Nidra practice. The photos were taken using a PET scanner (Positron Emission Tomography) that is to say in sections. The three-dimensional images showed that the subjects of the study reached in Yoga Nidra a very deep but also very stable level of relaxation, similar to sleep, and this for the whole period of the exercise.
THE THERAPEUTIC APPLICATIONS OF YOGA NIDRA The practice of Yoga Nidra, if taught by specialists of this practice, can treat among other things:
psychological related troubles
facilitate pregnancy and delivery
PRACTICING YOGA NIDRA
In his book entitled Yoga Nidra, the subject specialist Swami Satyananda Saraswati explains that in Yoga Nidra, the person seems asleep but his consciousness works on a deeper level, the state of relaxation is achieved by being aware of what is inside us. Swami Satyananda Saraswati explains that Yoga Nidra does not consist of suggestions or persuasions. It is rather the individual who learns to invite his own state of relaxation by following the instructor's vocal instructions. He also cultivates his inner intuitive faculties. and the instructor simply acts as a technical guide.
The method, the rigor and the order of the elements of Yoga Nidra is very important because it acts in a systematic way on the brain. In a Yoga Nidra practice, the student first does some asanas (postures) to prepare the body for rest. Subsequently, he lies on his back in Savasana (inert body posture) and must remain motionless throughout the practice whose duration may vary. The first thing to do when doing Yoga Nidra is to stay awake. It often happens that people fall asleep during the practice, it is not very serious, but ideally, we must try to stay focused on the words of the teacher. Once firmly settled on the floor, the student is invited to choose his Sankalpa, a positive statement and to repeat it three times. He must choose it carefully and the statement will have to be short and designed. Thereafter the rotation of the consciousness will begin. The instructor will name parts of the body, in a pre-arranged order, that the student will have to concentrate on feeling. The next step will be the awareness of the breath and then the sensations and emotions. These will be offered in opposite pairs, such as hot and cold. This step will aim to harmonize the two hemispheres of the brain. Then comes the stage of visualization where the student will imagine the images named by the instructor. The last image will be chosen to evoke a deep feeling of peace. Finally, the student will be asked to repeat his Sankalpa three times and gently awaken.
You want to try? It is strongly suggested to practice with this subject, especially if you are doing it for the purpose of solving a problem. But there are some very interesting Yoga Nidra online sessions that can give you an idea of how much relaxation this practice brings.