Why you should stay awake during yoga nidra
After your yoga asana class, your teacher might ask you to lie down on your mat, close your eyes and draw your attention inward. Many of us use this as an opportunity for a power nap, however this practice, known as yoga nidra is extremely beneficial – just make sure you stay awake long enough to experience it.
Yoga nidra is also known as psychic sleep. It is a deep state of relaxed awareness and you don’t necessarily have to go to a yoga class to experience it.
Yoga nidra attempts to bring about a state of complete relaxation.
Yoga nidra attempts to bring about a state of complete relaxation. This is achieved by focusing on the breath and rotating the consciousness around the body. Sometimes in yoga nidra your guide will ask you to bring awareness to a part of the body, for instance the feet. This doesn’t mean you should move the foot, but direct your awareness to this spot. When focusing your concentration on the flow of your breath and directing it to a particular part of the body to this area, you’ll find the mind becomes centred (it’s a lot harder for the flurry of thoughts to enter the mind when it is so focused) and a sense of calmness and relaxation prevails. Other yoga nidra techniques involve visualisation, focusing on the chakras or some form of mental chanting – all of which aim and rejuvenate to soothe the body and mind.
Yoga nidra also typically involves a sankalpa. This is a positive resolve made at the beginning of the practice. The focus here, as mentioned, is to make the resolution positive. Make a sankalpa such as “I am calm, I am happy” rather than “I won’t be stressed.” At the start of nidra, some guides will even ask you to mentally say to yourself “I will stay awake” several times to avoid people from catchy a sneaky sleep during the practice.
During the practice, just remember to relax. I know. It can be very difficult to centre the mind. Many say they find yoga nidra or relaxation a great time to work out their problems or sort their day. This is not the purpose of yoga nidra! It’s a chance for you to simply be in the moment. During the hectic pace of our day, the uncertainty, stress and worry, this is a chance for you to still the mind in the now. Chances are thoughts will penetrate through. When they do, don’t get frustrated. Simply bring your attention back to the breath.
Many people do fall asleep during yoga nidra. It’s common to hear a few snores coming from the back of a room during the practice. Although technically this does show that you are very relaxed (perhaps a little too much!), but ideally you do want to remain conscious to get the full benefits of the practice. Simply assume the corpse pose or shavasana. Have the palms facing upward and feet splayed for the side. Don’t touch any part of the body and focus on the breath. Many people like to use a blanket to prop under their heads or to wrap themselves. This is fine, but it does increase the risk of falling asleep.
Remember, even if you can’t attend a class, there are plenty of yoga nidra cds that can guide you through the practice. So simply sit back, relax (literally) and enjoy the stillness.
Namaste and happy psychic sleeping.
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