Yoga nidra is the yoga of aware sleep, in it lies the secret of self-healing. With these simple words, the great yoga master Swami Satyananda Saraswati described this particular technique of yoga meditation, yoga nidra, literally the yoga of sleep, which he himself had created inspired by ancient practices of the Indian tradition. Yoga nidra is more than a relaxation exercise. Through guided meditation it brings the person into that state of calm that precedes sleep. In fact, Swami Satyananda Saraswati had noticed that in that moment before falling asleep the mind became more receptive and it was possible to act to bring out creativity, talents but also to drive away anxiety and fears. Hence yoga nidra proves to be a very powerful and useful technique, especially in a time as difficult as that we are experiencing. In this article we will see the scientific bases of yoga nidra and its steps. In the video that will be released in a few days we will instead practice yoga nidra together!
Yoga nidra, what science says
Several scientific studies have been dedicated to understanding the effectiveness and action of yoga nidra. What emerges is that yoga nidra is a valid technique useful both for the body and for the mind that leads to a more intense relaxation than that induced by sleep (Rani et al, Int J Yoga, 2011). Yoga nidra has shown benefits in case of anxiety, irritability, insomnia and psychosomatic disorders. Not only that, the researchers observed that the practice of yoga nidra has helped bring relief in women with irregular menstruation, by acting on anxiety, depression and agitation, bringing well-being and vitality. But in general yoga nidra is beneficial for both women and men, adults and children. In fact, research has observed that the practice of yoga nidra in adolescents has been able to increase the sense of happiness, self-esteem, calm as well as giving a more active and creative mind (Vaishnav et al, Int J Yoga, 2018).
Yoga nidra, how it's done
Yoga nidra is made up of precise steps that should not be changed. Let's see them in detail.
To start yoga nidra put yourself in shavasana, which is the yoga position on your back. Lying on the mat, legs slightly apart and arms at the sides. The palms are facing upwards. Close your eyes, breathe, observe how the air enters the body bringing energy and how it comes out, leaving problems and worries to the earth.
Bring your attention from the feet to the head, feel how the feet are resting on the mat, and relax them, then shift the attention to the legs, and relax them, relax the hips, chest and the center of the chest where the heart beats. Relax your arms, neck, chin and tongue, slightly open your mouth to avoid tension, relax your eyebrows and the center of your eyebrows, relax your forehead.
Resolution is the goal. It consists in repeating mentally three sentences, which should communicate a positive message, should be simple and thought with conviction. For example, I am brave, I believe in myself and I believe in my abilities, I deserve love, I am successful in what I undertake, everyone has a different resolution based on his/her needs.
Rotation of consciousness
Shifting quickly your attention from one part of the body to the other, namely right and then left foot, right and then left leg and so on.
Shift your attention to the breath, feel how the air enters and exits, focus now on your navel, feel how it rises and lowers at each breath.
Awakening of opposite sensations
Opposite sensations are recalled vividly, such as heat and cold, lightness and heaviness.
In this phase, images such as meadows, streams, sky are brought to mind, try to visualize them by involving sensations, emotions and senses.
Repeat the phrase you chose three times.
Put your attention back on your body, breathe. Start to become aware with the touch of your fingers against the other fingers, caress your body, cupped your hands over your eyes and slowly open them. Caress your face and head. Turn slowly to the right side and then sit up.