Yoga Nidra Relaxation technique improves the quality of sleep
Yoga Nidra is a powerful relaxation meditation technique performed in the lying position. It is one of the most beloved of all the relaxation-meditation techniques in the world today. This is because the technique is practical and easy to do and creates the deep rest and relaxation required for good health, mental peace and higher awareness.
Getting deep rest is especially important in today’s busy world. The problem is that many of us carry our day-to-day tensions into sleep. Also constant stimulation by the technology that is supposed to make our lives better and to be more connected can easily over stimulate our nervous system, increase vata dosha and erode our ability to relax and rest. Constant engagement and stimulation results in excessive vata in the body and mind, which leads to disturbed sleeping patterns. Disturbed sleep detriments all aspects of life and can create a negative spiral of increasing stress, tension, exhaustion and ill health.
Yoga Nidra is one of the best ways to remove deep-seated tensions and to improve your capacity to sleep peacefully. It reduces excess vata and in fact is a tridoshic balancing technique when practiced properly.
As you practice Yoga Nidra you are guided deeper and deeper through the layers of your being, gradually releasing the more deep-seated tensions that prevent you going into deep states of recuperative sleep. As a result Yoga Nidra takes you into a conscious sleep-like state where you can gain all the benefits of sleep, including deep rest and better health.
The technique of Yoga Nidra is broken into several sections. Initially you rotate your awareness through the parts of the body to remove muscular tensions. Then you focus on your breath aiming to maintain unbroken awareness of a slow breathing pattern. Staying awake while you do this can be difficult and most people find that they will doze at this stage, if not before, especially if they are tired. If you can remain awake you can then go into the deeper parts of your being, developing awareness of mental images and other internal experiences that arise as your awareness becomes subtler. Yoga Nidra can be a deep meditative process.
So Yoga Nidra has two main phases of practice. The first is called the phase of relaxation and recuperation and the second is called the phase of meditation. In the phase of relaxation and recuperation relaxing the muscles and following the breath will remove tensions and exhaustion and enable better sleep. Once you have practiced this for a while and have restored your vitality you will effortlessly go into meditative states that are both empowering and life affirming, and that lead to better mental calm and strength.
For most of us leading busy lives we need Yoga Nidra as a tool to support health and energy. This is the foundation of a good life. A good night’s sleep enables us to engage with and get the most of life.
Modern research has shown that as we age our sleep architecture can be disturbed so that we have less deep cycles of sleep and wake up more often. Though it was once thought that older people needed less sleep it is now known that this is not true. Regardless of age we all need around 7 to 8 hours of deep sleep per 24-hour cycle. Research has also shown that when healthy adults had a siesta during the day their quality of nighttime sleep improved. Not only did they sleep longer but their quantity and quality of deep sleep also improved. It seems that if you are more relaxed and rested during the day that you sleep better at night.
Ultimate aim of Yoga Nidra
The ultimate aim of Yoga Nidra is to induce deep relaxation and recuperation of the body-mind that leads to greater self-awareness. As you learn to relax and to direct your attention deeper and deeper into yourself, you can discover who you are and all the great things that lie within you.
Dr Swami Shankardev Saraswati MB, BS M.SC, Yoga Acharya
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