What is Yoga Nidra, how it is done and why it works
When we think too much, or don’t think at all, we build up tensions.
When we work too much, or when we don’t work at all, we build up tension.
When we sleep too much, or don’t sleep at all, we build up tension.
These tensions accumulate in the different layers of the personality.
We know that if the mind is tense the stomach will also be tense and if the stomach is tense the whole circulatory system will also be tense.
A vicious circle is created where tensions build up in the muscular, emotional and mental systems.
Swami Satyananda Saraswati
It was the year 1940, and the Master Swami Satyananda, inspired by techniques of tantric origin, observed that, during the state that precedes sleep, the mind becomes particularly receptive and that, by following a sort of guided path, it is possible to reach this state by working progressively on a number of factors.
Said so it seems complicated, and certainly “designing” this technique was not a walk in the park, however, practicing Yoga Nidra is super simple, and the benefits that derive from it are extraordinary.
Yoga Nidra, in fact, has the same benefits of meditation practices, with the advantage that it can also be performed by those who have no experience with meditative techniques.
How it works
The word “Nidra” comes from Sanskrit, and means “sleep”, but not sleep as we commonly understand it.
When we talk about Yoga Nidra sleep is considered as a mental condition, therefore conscious, in some way “active”, and not as a state of total unconsciousness, typical of when we sleep.
To better understand this concept, imagine the feeling of “semi-consciousness” you feel a few moments before falling asleep.
According to the studies carried out, through Yoga Nidra it is possible to induce this particular state of “sleep”, in which the body and mind are able to relax tensions and favor some cerebral aspects, such as creativity, problem solving, decrease stress and increased relaxation.
Because, if it is true that most yoga techniques are based on the concept of Prana, and therefore of energy, which is not scientifically measurable, when we talk about Yoga Nidra the thing changes, as this technique acts on what we could define brain energy, or electrical impulses.
Which are measurable.
Brain electrical activity is measured with the electro-brain gram (EEG), and is classified into Betha, Alpha, Tetha and Deltha waves.
Betha waves represent the ability to consciously process thoughts.
In daily life the Betha waves are the ones we use most often, they correspond to an alert and active state of mind and therefore characterize all our activities while awake.
Alpha waves are associated with relaxation and receptivity.
They have the ability to bridge the conscious and unconscious minds and correspond to a calm and peaceful state of mind.
When we take the time to reflect, meditate or “disconnect from an activity”, we often enter an Alpha state.
Intuitive introspection, creative situations, inspiration, motivation and daydreams characterize Alpha waves.
Thetha waves represent our unconscious creativity, inspiration and spiritual connection. When we turn our attention mainly to the inner self, we can “go in Thetha waves”.
To be able to maintain this state of consciousness, we must keep the body still.
Only in this way is the mind not distracted by sensory perceptions.
(And it is for this reason that, as I will explain later, yoga nidra is done by lying down and remaining still.)
Theta brain waves contribute to deep inner peace, creating a better quality of life, physical and emotional healing, and finding purpose and quality of life.
Deltha waves characterize deep sleep. They are the deepest level of dreamless sleep, where the body can fully focus on healing and growth.
Using this “brain measurement opportunity”, experiments were conducted on groups of people during the practice of Yoga Nidra, and brain activity was “mapped” during the practice.
The goal of the experiments was to demonstrate how, through the practice of Yoga Nidra, it was possible to induce a state of conscious, and not unconscious, sleep like the normal one.
The practice of Yoga Nidra is completed by gradually bringing the mind from the state of psychic sleep to the waking state. During the practice it is essential that you keep your mind clear of thoughts and just listen to the voice that guides you.