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Yoga Nidra: The Art of Relaxation through Psychic Sleep and Deliberate Dreaming

written by: nanditha • edited by: Lisa Lambson • updated: 6/27/2011

Releasing pent up emotions and stressed out muscles can lead to enhanced health and well being. This state of being is possible through a yogic technique of deep relaxation called yoga nidra.

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    Easing Tension

    According to Yogic philosophy, there are three types of tension that form the basis for all suffering in life as we know it. They are muscular, emotional and mental tensions and according to the book, Yoga Nidra by swami Satyananda Saraswati, these tensions can be done away with through a regular practice of yoga nidra.

    According to Satyananda Saraswati, muscular tensions are linked to the body – the nervous system and endocrine system alike. Emotional tensions stem from the schism in the fabric of the mind, various conflicts that we face from time to time and the inability to freely express emotions. Yoga nidra has the potential to calm the emotional makeup of the mind. Mental tensions, which are the result of extreme mental activity and repressed subconscious memories, thoughts and feelings, can be released through yoga nidra as well.


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    What is Yoga Nidra?

    Yoga Nidra is psychic sleep. That means sleep with awareness, where the body is completely asleep and the mind is aware and alert. To be precise, it is the space between complete wakefulness and the alpha brain wave state or dream state. Through the practice of yoga nidra we arrive at this state consciously and with complete awareness. The yogis say that the practice of yoga nidra opens new dimensions of the mind - it can pierce through and uncover its hidden depths: the subconscious and unconscious.

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    How do You Practice it?

    The first phase involves deep relaxation of the body by mindfully tensing and relaxing every muscle, literally part by part.

    The second phase involves coming into awareness of the mind. The mind to most of us is an abstraction and the only way to become aware of it is by first becoming aware of the breath. According to the science of yoga, one’s breath is the link between the material and the psychic. Therefore one has to traverse this bridge in order to gain insight into the mind.

    The third phase involves a series of visualizations. Visualizations projected onto the mind’s eye soon after relaxing the body and the mind takes the brain into alpha level waves and induces a dream like state, but with great awareness. That means, you are in control of what you see. You are aware.

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    There are many benefits to practicing yoga nidra. Regular practice brings clarity to the mind, releases pent emotions and induces a state of physical calm. It is very effective in dealing with physical pain and health problems, including psychosomatic illnesses. It improves the quality of sleep if practiced regularly. And what is more, it is an efficient way to rest and rejuvenate because one hour of yoga nidra is equal to four hours of conventional sleep. Or so the yogis say.

    In addition to all this, it tweaks your creativity just a little bit.

    As one yogi put it, yoga nidra unleashes creative genius. It helps cultivate in the practitioner, the attitude of an observer where the observed becomes an objective reality called life.

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