By Pritika Nair
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, or even much more than sleep. It offers benefits that go deep down to the subtler levels of our personality. Let’s see how.
Yoga nidra – my first understanding of this word was ‘sleep during yoga’. It was only after 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. So true, I thought. 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.”
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.
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.