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Beautiful young mixed race teenage girl with long brown hair laying on a white exercise mat in meditation while doing the yoga pose shavasana surrounded by candles in a dimly lit yoga studio. Image Credit: Getty Images

Most people would term a good night’s sleep as relaxing. As per yogic texts, however, nidra or sleep is not relaxation. Most of us sleep without resolving tensions and hence, even though the mind and the senses cease their activities in sleep, the inner turmoil remains. Yogic texts consider relaxation as a state of bliss (anand), which is activated in the technique of yoga nidra.

Yoga nidra is akin to cosmic sleep, meaning you are inactive-active. This implies that while your conscious is awake, your body and mind are asleep. As your body lies supine and motionless, there is minimum to none interference of the sensory inputs as well. In this systematic method of relaxation, one gently enters into a state of altered state of consciousness as induced relaxation envelops the mental, emotional and physical bodies.

This psychic and physiological rest is a very relaxing, invigorating and refreshing state.

Yoga nidra is transformative

Yoga nidra is neither a sleep state nor a wakeful one. It is a state in between. The mind is most receptive in this in-between state and any suggestion or seed that is planted during this state, fructifies as the deeper phases of mind are open. Through conscious resolve or sankalp shakti, individual changes the subconscious patterns of behaviour.

Resolve or sankalp is the bridge that ties the conscious and the subconscious mind. Resolve, borne out of your determination, is a short, mental statement of auto-suggestion. When the bed of the mind is calm, the seed of resolve is ready to be planted in the subconscious mind.

In this state, the negative patterns of habit, addictions or tendencies can be overcome. The continuous practice of this technique brings phenomenal changes in one’s personality.

When you plant a resolve while in yoga nidra, keep it simple, such as, “I am healthy,” or “I am happy”. The universe understands your emotions, words are just the means of conveying; the real channel is the emotions. Whatever resolve you make, do it with faith.

Feel the resolve when you say it, bring in the emotion that the change that you desire has already happened. Faith, feeling and emoting with trust is important. For example, when you say, “I attract abundance,” Feel how abundance feels like, as in, you already have abundance. How is the feeling of abundance? Cultivate the feeling. Have faith that you already have abundance.

Combat disease and depression

Yoga nidra has therapeutic benefits too. While practising this method, one turns the attention inward. Many diseases find a home in the body as attention is directed outwards. When the mind is turned inward to one’s own body and breath, then the invasion of untoward energies is checked. No energy can home the body uninvited. Many a time, one tends to subconsciously pick up non-serving energies. Through the preventive and curative benefits of this practise, one can effectively alleviate several physical and mental diseases.

In his book, ‘Yoga Nidra’, Swami Satyananda Saraswati states how yoga nidra can be used successfully to reduce anxiety, muscular, emotional and mental stress, and various psycho-somatic diseases, psychological depression, insomnia, and loss of motivation among others. The book mentions therapeutic benefits of this practice for heart diseases as well.

Consciousness explored

Apart from restorative health benefits, yoga nidra has been used to enhance memory, increase learning capacity and gain clarity. This threshold state between sleep and wakefulness employs both the hemispheres of the brain in the task; the logical, conscious left and the non-logical, subconscious right hemisphere, thus inducing the change. In hypnagogic state, when the mind is still, inspiration flows and intuitive faculties become strong. Answers are received. Limitations of mind and body are overcome.

Consciousness is never asleep. Even in sleep, there is some trace of cognition, awareness. In yoga nidra, this state of awareness is utilised, by withdrawing the sensory medium through pratyahara, (withdrawal of sense perceptions) to make the mind calm and obedient.

From spiritual standpoint, the goal of yoga nidra is higher, which is to attain homogenous awareness. A spiritual seeker, thus, engages in yoga nidra as a preparatory step for meditation to reach the elevated states of consciousness.

Disclaimer: Urmila Rao is a chakra balancing meditation coach, Theta Healer and a sound therapist. All the ideas expressed herein are her own and not professional advice or medical prescription. She can be reached at: