Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Yog Nidra…..the art of complete Relaxation
To be able to relax completely is an art. So many methods have been described, from just sleeping, to sitting in silence, to listening to music, just closing one’s eyes, counting down from 30 to 1 but what is not talked about much is the method taught by our sages of yore…Yoga Nidra, which is a method in which one is fully conscious but relaxed completely. This is how it differs from sleep. Sleep may not relax us fully since the very moment sleep dawns, the dream state starts, the mind remains active and is not at peace. It is only during deep sleep that we achieve rest but how much of deep sleep do we manage to get? Yoga Nidra, on the other hand restores the mind to a state of tranquility and profound peace. Yoga Nidra is also known as ‘Chetan Nidra” and, in my experience is the best method for achieving complete relaxation. i, therefore, wish to share it with all of you. Yoga Nidra literally means “Sleeping Consciously” and is a state in between wakefulness and dreaming during which our subconscious and still deeper layers of our mind open up. These, as we are aware are very powerful levels of the mind, indeed. It thus brings about deep relaxation at all levels namely physical, psychological and mental and results in a higher level of energy in the body. It is at this stage that we become more amenable to suggestions and the subconscious mind, the obedient servant it is, ensures its attainment. Incidentally this is the stage which is used for “Hypnosis’ by Psychiatrists during ‘Hypnotic meditation” or Regression. During Yog Nidra our consciousness travels from one layer to another resulting in wonderful experiences. The Method: First Stage…resting in “Shavasana” Lie on the back, with the legs spread one and a half feet and arms a little away from the body and palms facing up, fingers spread out. Relax the body completely, close your eyes gently, and breathe slowly and deeply. Second Stage: Start observing the body with the mind’s eye…..as if a person standing way from you is observing you lying on the floor (it is like your atma observing your body). Direct your “mind’s eye” to the great toe of the right foot, followed by the second toe, then the third, the fourth and finally the fifth…all very very slowly. Look at the sole of the foot, the upper part, the calf of the leg, the thigh and the buttock. Turn your attention to the left foot and very slowly follow the same sequence from the big toe to the buttock. Keep relaxing the part or organ which you see with your mind’s eye. Now look at the centre of your abdomen, which is the seat of ‘Saman Pran” followed by all the internal organs, namely the stomach, liver, pancreas, spleen, intestines. This should then be followed by the right lung, the left lung, the pulsating heart, the right side of the waist, the left side. Then look at the spine from the lower to the upper end. Remember to relax whichever structure you see. Look at the right thumb of your hand, the second, the third, fourth and fifth fingers, the upper part of the palm, the wrist, front of the arm, elbow, the upper part of the arm and the shoulder. Similarly observe the left thumb, fingers, palm, arms etc in the same order. Divert the gaze of your mind’s eye to your throat, chin, teeth, the two nostrils, right and left ears, right and left eyes, right and left eyebrows, the space between the eyebrows and the crown of the head. Keep concentrating on each relaxed part of the body. The Third Stage…..Meditation on the Five Elements: You now need to meditate on the Five Elements or “tatvas” starting from the earth Element. Feel the heaviness of the bones, flesh, muscles and the skin. These represent the Earth Element. Basically there is no difference between the Earth element and the parts of our bodies represented by it. Try to appreciate the smell of the earth. Now think of the blood flowing in your arteries and veins flowing from the great toe to the crown of the head. These represent the Water Element. There is basically no difference between the outside water and the fluids flowing inside our bodies, therefore try to visualize the taste of water also. Come to the Fire Element now. Concentrate on the warmth (better expressed as “oonshrata”) present in your entire body. This is representative of the Fire Element. Body heat does not differ from the heat present in the environment, therefore, try to feel this warmth. Now gently concentrate on you inhalation and exhalation as this represents your Air Element which does not differ from the air you breathe. Feel this connection between your body and the environment. Gently observe the spaces in your body representative of the Space Element. Our body is completely “saturated” with space and does not differ from outside space. Try to feel the connection with the inner and outer space and also to appreciate the inner primordial sound, carried by the Space Element. Fourth Stage…Meditation on the “Super”Element: This “Super” Element gives rise to all the other Elements which are ephemeral in nature while this is permanent. Try to stay in this stage of Divinity for some time. Imagine a beautiful white (or golden) light surrounding you and feel it travelling down your entire body. The longer you can stay with it the more peaceful and relaxed you get. Fifth Stage….Meditation on your breathing: Concentrate on the process of breathing. Breathe deeply, draw the breath from the “foot” to the “crown” of your head while inhaling and vice versa while exhaling. Do this 6 to 7 times, and gradually sit up. It is important not to go to sleep during Yog Nidra as it would deprive you of all the benefits. Yoga Nidra is very similar to the process of feeling energy internally. As you observe every organ or part of your body, it is possible to observe and feel whether that part or organ is energy depleted or not. If so it indicates the presence of disease in that area, which can easily be “replenished” by transferring “cosmic” energy to it by the different methods of Energy Healing. It is like scanning your bodily energies from the great toe to the crown of your head. i have found it Yoga Nidra to be an extremely good tool for relaxation as well as meditation. It is also a great method for managing stress which is plaguing our lives. Since it relieves stress and anxiety it is greatly beneficial in heart disease as well. Those who practice Yoga Nidra find that their need for sleep decreases significantly. It is a wonderful method to practice for all of us. Source: ‘Asan And Yog Vigyan’ published by Bhartiya Yog Sansthan Seventh Edition 2008, “Miraculous Health” by Dr Rick Levy 2008,and The Internet.