“We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them”. Albert Einstein
Our numerous thoughts and emotions from day-to-day activities tend to remain occupied in our minds. Commonly, we remain stressed out with our unresolved daily issues and by the end of the day when it is time to sleep, we take our problems with us to bed.
Come morning, the problems just pile up as they are still hovering and lingering in our mind at end of the day. This pattern becomes repeatable and soon we burden ourselves to a breaking point where we start to lose focus and direction.
Yoga teaches us that we can break this cycle before our life issues becomes a burden to us. We learn to let go. The practice of Yoga Nidra is one effective technique to relax the mind.
What is Yoga Nidra?
Yoga Nidra is known as ‘yogic sleep’ or ‘effortless relaxation’. The practice draws our attention inwards, and we learn to surf between the states of wakefulness and sleep, where our body finds its natural state of equilibrium (homeostasis) – the breath balances and becomes quiet, unconscious, and conscious aspects of the mind reveal themselves, and we fall into an innate state of deep, blissful awareness. Research is showing positive results for those individuals that practice Yoga Nidra for 11 minutes a day. If we give ourselves about 20 to 40 minutes, then we restore our body, its senses, and mind to their natural function and in the process awaken another sense, that only sees wholeness, tranquility, and well-being.
8 Stages of Yoga Nidra
Yoga Nidra is process of emptying and as we move through eight stages, to empty the mind. essential. Here are the eight stages of Yoga Nidra:
- Stage 1 | Settling or Initial Relaxation (Essential)
- Stage 2 |Intention, Sankalpa
- Stage 3 |Body Rotation or Rotation of Consciousness (Essential)
- Stage 4 |Breath and Energy Awareness (Essential)
- Stage 5 |Sense Perception
- Stage 6 |Visualisation
- Stage 7 |Sankalpa
- Stage 8 |Externalisation (Essential)
At each stage, we are guided through each layer during the Yoga Nidra sessions. Yoga Nidra can bring balance to each level of our being, be it mental, physically, emotional, or spiritually. The Yoga Nidra stages are below:
Stage 1 | Settling or Initial Relaxation:
This is where the body is prepared to feel comfortable, release tensions, increase awareness of itself and the environment and finally settle and focus on the breath. This stage is about moving inwards and allowing the external environment to be switched off.
Stage 2 |Intention, Sankalpa:
Creating a sankalpa, or intention is a fundamental principle for offering your practice to something larger than yourself. The Sankalpa is part of a manifesting your intention. We create a short statement based on our heart’s deepest longing. A Sankalpa is a short statement we desire to achieve. We are asked to mentally repeat our “Sankalpa” or “Intention” to ourselves a few times with full faith and belief.
Stage 3 |Body Rotation or Rotation of Consciousness:
The teacher will rotate each part of the body. It is important to be aware of each body part, listen to the instructions, and follow them carefully. This systematically relaxes the whole body. If there is tense body parts these are released.
Stage 4 |Breath and Energy Awareness:
We guided to become aware of the breath. We may start counting each breath, keeping the breath steady. This stage gives a deep relaxation and awakens higher energies that can be directed to all parts of the body. You are asked to draw your attention to the breaths that you take in and expel out.
Stage 5 |Sense Perception:
Stage five will assist you to experience opposite sensations or emotions without judging or reacting emotionally. This can cultivate willpower and allow emotional relaxation by stimulating the opposite hemispheres of the brain.
Stage 6 |Visualisation:
Visualisation induces mental relaxation, by stirring the memory and removing disturbing material. You are asked to mentally picture different images mentioned. You need to keep your powers of visualisation sharp.
Stage 7 |Sankalpa:
Here we reinforce the Sankalpa or “resolve” which was made at the beginning of the Yoga Nidra session, and this will help remind us of the promise we made. When one directs their focus and attention on their sankalpa or their intention, they are changing the activity and physical structure of the brain
Stage 8 |Externalisation:
At the end of the session you will be guided out of the practice. It is important to not rush this stage so that you are not disoriented and confused. You will be guided to dwell on breath awareness, body awareness, body and room location, the external environment, and finally by very slowly moving the body, to gently awaken from this threshold state between sleep and wakefulness.
Yoga Nidra is a simple practice because it performed lying down, guided by a teacher. It is a welcome practice to as an attainable form of meditation for those seeking everyday well-being. Throughout, we are encouraged to tap into an underlying sense of peace that is always present and to cultivate “consciousness”, monitoring, and welcoming everything present without getting caught up in it.
Yoga Nidra allows us to reach the deepest level of relaxation.
Yoga Nidra nurtures a quiet mind, quiet body, and a blissful spirit.