Imagine being so relaxed, calm, able to release stress and tension, improve your creativity, change your life – all by lying in Savasana at the end of a yoga class and repeating a short phrase every day.
Currently, some yoga classes are “routine”, consisting of poses (asanas), sometimes breathing techniques (pranayama) and maybe a short relaxation at the end. Most people believe that this 5-10 minutes spent in Savasana (corpse pose) is a deeply relaxing meditative practice. But did you know there is another yogic practice, Yoga Nidra, that is even more effective, having profound physical, psychological, spiritual and life changing benefits?
Linda Novosad from Arjuna Yoga, a fully qualified yoga teacher who leads classes and workshops at Soul Barre, Mudita Yoga Studio and other Melbourne locations says that “although we think that ‘relaxation’ consists of activities like listening to music, reading a book, watching television, walking, or simply having a quiet time, we aren’t truly relaxing the mind and body. Yoga Nidra (yogic sleep) is something very different – it is a guided deep relaxation technique that quietens your mind, releases physical tension in your body and in this deep state of relaxation, your heart beat and breathing slow down and your body and mind become deeply calm. For me, Yoga Nidra is like a ‘super nap’ that recharges me in no time. It is a complete rejuvenation package – a must to relieve ourselves of daily stress and improve our mind and body through a simple yet very effective technique. I have also found it has given me clear direction and focus on my life and awaken my inner and true potential. ”
The effects of Yoga Nidra on the physical, mental and spiritual body are enormous but ever changing depending on each person’s place and mindset. The outcomes greatly vary but generally include minimizing tension, increasing focus, relaxing the mind, clearing any conscious or unconscious issues, awakening creativity, improving or enhancing memory and learning, counteracts stress, heals through awareness and promotes willpower and confidence.
Yoga Nidra uses a very specific technique including preparation (lying in Savasana), an affirmation (Sankalpa or resolve), rotation of consciousness, respiration awareness, manifestations of opposites (hot/cold, anger/joy), creative visualization, repetition of the affirmation, and a gradual return to awareness.
San-what? A Sankalpa, the Sanskrit word for resolve, is used during the practice of Yoga Nidra. It is an instruction from your conscious mind to your sub-conscious mind and a powerful tool for change and should be chosen carefully. A Sankalpa is a short positive statement of intent of some way you want to be or change your life. It is not a wish or a hope and is very different from a New Year’s resolution. It is something you intend to become or to achieve. And the idea of repeating the Sankalpa is to create the life we are meant to embrace and enjoy – to transform one‘s life physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. And when the Sankalpa is made on a mind that is calm and relaxed, it is impressed on the subconscious, planted at a deep level of our mind, knowing that when the time is right, this is what we will be experiencing in our lives.
Choosing a Sankalpa can be easy or difficult but the most important thing is to let it manifest to you – don’t force or create one that doesn’t “sing” to you. And be aware that a change may not happen overnight, and if things don’t work out, don’t criticize yourself or feel that you have ‘failed’. Just give yourself a gentle reminder of your good intentions. Use it as a mantra during your yoga practice, hum it to yourself everyday or repeat it to yourself quietly before going to sleep but most importantly keep it to yourself – like a enchanting spell between you and your soul. You will soon reap the benefits of its use.
For those that are just starting to meditate and finding it a struggle, Yoga Nidra can make it easier. The most important thing is, the more you practice Yoga Nidra, the better it gets. Yoga Nidra for some can feel like a deep sleep that recharges the body but doesn’t make you feel too drowsy afterwards or affect your sleep, it can actually enhance it. And for some, 1 hour of practicing Yoga Nidra has the same effects as 3-4 hours of deep sleep.
So if you are looking to change your life, your mindset, to relax deeply and open your mind to improve your creativity, awareness, focus and memory and lessen the impact of stress in your life, then Yoga Nidra is a wonderful choice.
There are many guided Yoga Nidra classes and workshops available – just find one that suits you, create your Sankalpa and reap the benefits.