Yoga Nidra is an ancient technique of self exploration of inner growth through deep relaxation. The powerful self hypnosis guides you deeper into your unconscious and helps to process unresolved emotions. There are a few steps during a yoga nidra session; Preparation, Body Awareness, Sankalpa, Breath Awareness, and lastly Pairing of Opposites.
In order to prepare for Yoga Nidra, one must be relaxed. The moment you become relaxed there are 2 paths, 1 is sleep another is meditation. Sleep and meditation are not much different. When you are relaxed many deep emotions are able to be brought to the surface and we can set our analytical mind aside and go into a deeper state of consciousness. Many times, chanting of OM is done prior to Yoga Nidra to induce relaxation and awareness.
Next is Body Awareness. We are guided through a deep body scan. Much of the tension we absorb in our lives is absorbed in the gross physical body. Body awareness allows us to scan and become sensitive to these pains. In more Western cultures, sensitivity is not encouraged. We have been trained to become insensitive. As we progress through Yoga and especially during Yoga Nidra, we become more sensitive. As we go deeper into ourselves, and become more sensitive to all the baggage we hold, we are then able to draw out these old sanskaras. Yoga Nidra awakens the sensitivity, and allows us to know ourselves better. During the practice, we are tearing apart layers, identifications, giving away the attitude of control and surrendering.
The act of surrender is a very powerful concept, and one of the most important requirements for Yoga Nidra. When we surrender, we drop the act of control. Instead of seeking to control the mind, we seek to become friendly with it, that is the type of “control” we seek in Yoga. Surrender cannot occur without dropping control. In society, we believe surrendering is a sign of weakness. But the surrender here is internal, and a true strength. When you give up, and let go of tensions, then you are truly strong. When you can acknowledge your weaknesses, and tension, this is a true sign of strength, and only then will you come out of that burden.
We absorb external tension almost every day. When we are walking down the street, and a car flies by too fast, we get upset and tend to hold onto that hatred, that leads to more tension in the body. We must take time everyday to clean this out. It’s like taking out the garbage…and if we don’t, the bin will fill up and the whole house will smell. Many times, we don’t take time to take out the trash. During Yoga Nidra, as we continue through body awareness, we learn just how much tension we are holding, and we can release. When releasing, there is no need to be analytical over this, for the example above, we don’t look at the trash before we throw it away, we just need to take it out and that’s it.
Another step is your Sankalpa. Sankalpa is difficult to explain, but similar to your intention, will, determination, resolve or life’s purpose. The Sankalpa is our seed of transformation. The Sankalpa has been there all along, but we must dig deep in order for it to flower. Through the practice we are digging into the ground and going past all that is not needed, eventually our Sankalpa will flower and flourish. Before this happens, we can state generalizations, like health or inner peace and allow it to flourish from there.
Following Body Awareness, is Breath Awareness. We become aware of the chronic flow of breath and prana throughout our body. Breath awareness is a very deep and progressive process. Similar to above, we continue to dig deep into the ground and bring up all that is not needed. Lastly, is a Pair of Opposites, which allows us to see reality in totality. For example, the body becomes heavy. Then immediately a feeling of lightness is induced. This helps with disidentification.
Visualizations during yoga nidra can work on a very deep level. Our eyes absorb so much tension from the external world. Visualizations during the practice can help to release this tension. Through deep practice, we can learn to disidentify from situations. Chanting of OM can be helpful for this as well. When we take that 2-3 second pause between chants and feel silence, that prepares us for real life external issues. When someone does something negative to you, instead of reacting right away, you can be more reflective with your actions.
In order for one to process all the deep emotions that are brought to the surface during Yoga Nidra one must relax, become self-aware, and accept. Guilt is not a concept in yoga. Instead we accept. Accept the mistakes we have made in the past, face it and change it moving forward. The more guilty we feel, the less energy we will have to come out of this guilt. So instead, accept, face it and change moving forward. Instead of feeling guilt for all the tension we have in us, we must feel grateful for breaking these shackles and grateful for all that we have.