As Restorative As Sleep – Relax Yourself With Yoga Nidra in Gurudev Sri Sri Ravishankar voice mp3
Simply described as effortless relaxation, yoga nidra is an essential end to any yoga pose sequence. Yoga postures ‘warm up’ the body; yoga nidra ‘cools it down’.
A yoga routine provides deep restoration to your body and the mind. And to make your practice more effective, it’s ideal to end your yoga sequence with yoga nidra (yogic sleep). In yoga nidra, we consciously take our attention to different parts of the body and relax them.
Yoga practices increase the energy levels in the body.
Yoga Nidra helps conserve and consolidate this energy and relax the entire system, preparing it for pranayama and meditation. It is, therefore, important to keep aside sufficient time for yoga nidra after yoga postures.
Benefits of Yoga Nidra:
Cools down the body after yoga postures, restoring normal temperature
Activates the nervous system to absorb the effects of yoga asanas.
Getting ready for Yoga Nidra:
The stomach has to be empty of light before the practice. It is not recommended to practice Yoga asanas or Yoga nidra after a full meal.
A comfortable clutter free space. A yogi’s home is calm, comfortable, and clutter-free.
Some people may feel a little cold after Yoga Nidra, so, it is a good idea to keep a light blanket handy.
Step-by-step instructions for a perfect yoga nidra:
Lie down straight on your back in Corpse Pose (Shavasana). Close your eyes and relax. Take a few deep breaths in and out. Remember to take slow and relaxed breaths, and not ujjayi breaths.
Start by gently taking your attention to your right foot. Keep your attention there for a few seconds, while relaxing your foot. Then gently move your attention up to the right knee, right thigh and hip. Become aware of your whole right leg.
Gently, repeat this process for the left leg.
Take your attention to all parts of the body: genital area, stomach, navel region, chest.
Take your attention to the right shoulder and right arm, palms and fingers then repeat this on the left shoulder and left arm, throat, face and finally the top of the head.
Take a deep breath in, observe the sensations in your body, and relax in this still state for a few minutes.
Now, slowly becoming aware of your body and surroundings, turn to your right side and keep lying down for a few more minutes. Rolling over to the right side makes the breath flow through the left nostril which helps cool the body.
Taking your own time, you may then slowly sit up, and whenever you feel comfortable, slowly and gradually open your eyes.
Note that Yoga Nidra is not about ‘conscious effort’ but ‘conscious relaxation’.
For example, the moment you hear the word ‘apple,’ its image instantly flashes through your mind. You don’t need to put in an effort to think whether it’s small or big, red or green. The same happens during yoga nidra.
You don’t need to ‘concentrate’ or ‘focus’ on what a leg is, or touch your nose. Nor do you need to physically move these body parts. You only need to gently take your attention to them, while taking deep breaths. The trick in yoga nidra is to: relax with awareness, remain effortless and consciously relax the body and mind.
It is quite natural to be distracted by random thoughts during yoga nidra. Do not try and curb them. If you fall asleep naturally, don’t feel guilty once you wake up.
Yoga nidra is thus a joyous, effortless way to end your yoga practice. Let go, relax and enjoy the experience that follows.
“As refreshing as sleep, I fondly call yoga nidra my ‘super nap’. In just a short while, it leaves me deeply rested and freshens me up in a way no tea or coffee does,” shares Pritika Nair, an avid meditator.
This article is based on inputs by senior Sri Sri Yoga teachers: Dinesh Kashikar and Shriram Sarvotham.
Are You Doing Yoga Nidra?
It is interesting to see how yoga nidra, where we literally do ‘nothing’, can do wonders for the body and mind. I find yoga nidra as restorative as sleep. It offers benefits that go deep down to the subtler levels of our personality.
Yoga nidra can be better than sleep
Yoga nidra – my first understanding of this word was ‘sleep during yoga’. It was only after an Sri Sri Yoga teacher, Dinesh Kashikar explained yoga nidra that I discovered it wasn’t yoga sleep. He said when you work with awareness (mind not wandering elsewhere), the work gets done better and faster. He went on to explain that nidra means a relaxed state of mind but when we add awareness to it, it becomes yoga nidra.
As we become aware of different parts of the body, relaxation is much more effective. But when we sleep, everything shuts down, including the awareness, and so relaxation remains incomplete somewhere. I reflected, how I would hit the bed every time I felt tired and worn out, yet feel lethargic and tired in the morning as though I hadn’t slept at all! When I started doing yoga nidra after my morning yoga postures, I felt relaxed like never before. My daily dose of yoga nidra not only charges up my body, but also calms my mind. I work better with a clear and focused mind.
Often emotional and mental patterns would continue from the previous day. But, as I experienced, these patterns erased after a yoga nidra session. It is as if someone pressed the refresh button. Following yoga nidra instructions, you can experience a state of absolute bliss too.
Vinitha Nishit, a DSN Course participant, echoes my thoughts when she shares, “On days I feel low and my mind is clouded with unnecessary negative thoughts, I lie down for a short yoga nidra and the change is very evident. I feel a lot lighter; my cluttered mind clears up. I think positively and the energy to work is tremendous.”
Experience deep relaxation in yoga nidra
Apart from its benefits off the yoga mat, yoga nidra works wonders on the mat too. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says, “It’s very important to include yoga nidra at the end of any asana sequence as the body and mind needs the time to assimilate the effects of the asanas.” Additionally, lying down in yoga nidra helps cool the body and restores it to normal temperature.
Sometimes after doing certain intense yoga postures, you might experience slight pain in the body because of muscle stretch. According to an article in the New York Times, whenever the body undergoes heavy physical activity, calcium ions leak into the muscle cells, causing the muscles to contract and feel tired. A similar thing happens after an active round of yoga poses. It is then important to lie down in yoga nidra for some time as yoga nidra allows the body to flush out these chemical deposits via the bloodstream and thereby help relax more and more.
Yoga Nidra makes meditation easier.
As I follow up my yoga posture practice with pranayama and meditation, I realize the important role yoga nidra can play in preparing the body and mind to enter a meditative state. I remember struggling to meditate when I initially started, but yoga nidra made it easier.
As we take our attention to various parts of the body, we activate the nervous system which helps increase relaxation and enhances the meditation process.
The more you practice yoga nidra, the better it gets. You can also enhance your experience with simple yoga nidra tips.
Yoga nidra for me 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 in today’s busy world.