Yoga and meditation are known to share symbolic similarities regarding philosophy and culture. Although these disciplines are unique, both practices are synonymous in being able to bring the mind and body into a relaxed and balanced state of harmony.
While meditation is highly emphasized on the mental state of awareness as an anchor point, yoga includes movement of the body as a gateway to our energy centers.
Yoga and meditation definitely share some very key aspects, but what remains constant is that when we are referring to the practice of meditation we are not necessarily speaking of yoga and vise versa.
What is interesting is where these two very unique practices find a common tone and begin to fall into the same playing field. This fascinating area of focus can be described as Yoga Nidra Meditation.
Yoga Nidra Meditation
Nidra, which translates to “yogic sleep”, is a form of meditation that touches on deep sleep consciousness. The word “Nidra” means “Deep Sleep”, which is very distinct from “dreaming” consciousness. In a deep sleep state, there are no images in the mind, while during dream state there can usually be mental imagery involved.
During this form of yoga, typically guided by the yoga instructor, you are brought through the process of scanning your body using the intention of your mind. This technique triggers a very deep relaxation response and is often said to provide a perfect segway into the deepest levels of meditation.
Similar to meditation, harnessing this state of serene energy and balance of the mind and body allows for the release of deep tension to take place.
There are some slight differences though. In Meditation, you remain in the waking state of consciousness, while allowing thought patterns, emotions, sensations, and images to arise and drift off naturally. In yoga nidra, however, you are leaving the waking state, going past the dreaming state, and gently into a state of deep sleep, while remaining fully conscious.
As opposed to being an unconscious deep sleep, while in Nidra Meditation, you are in a state of conscious deep sleep. This is where the frequency of Delta brainwaves are at peak activity.
Ironically, when achieving this state of deep sleep consciousness, we become stunningly more alert and aware than we usually are in our conscious wakeful state. Yoga nidras was taught by ancient sages for the purpose of exploring deeper realms of existence and believed to hold the power of enlightenment.
Yoga nidra, despite its recent increase in popularity, has been around for thousands of years with roots tracing back to India. However, like many other forms of yoga with a palpable following in the West, it has undergone some modifications and has branched off slightly into different sub categories.
This is why yoga nidra, through time, has lost some of its truest and most raw essence.
Whatever the case may be, any form of yoga nidra carries exhilarating benefits which hold significant impact even in modern times, which is why this practice is worth taking a closer look.
Why Do Yoga Nidra Meditation?
After an intense workout or yoga session, there is a sense of euphoric calmness released in the body. It is for this reason that after a good training session it feels so good to lay flat on the back and just chill out — in this state you can feel yourself really start to relax. The basis of yoga nidra meditation is to harness this moment by taking it further and pushing it to a much deeper point.
When we are in meditation, or even out for a nice jog, we tend to call it off just when things were starting to get really good. What yoga nidra meditation aims to do is to go straight into that point of euphoric flow.
This level of serene bliss is useful in dealing with serious behavioral and psychological issues including depression, PTSD, substance abuse, and so forth. The end result of even a few sessions can enhance levels of self-control, inner joy, and a peaceful mind.
How To Do Nidra Meditation – A Quick and Easy How To Section
The whole point of doing yoga nidra meditation is to reach a very deep relaxation state while maintaining alert focus. Here is an easy sequence that can be used to achieve proper yoga nidra meditation.
Start with about 10 minutes of basic stretches, or yoga asanas, which serve to loosen the muscles. These can be gentle poses or even more intense positions to, just go with whatever feels right.
Lay down flat on your back on a blanket or yoga mat. This position is known as the Corpse Pose, or Savasana. You can also use a bolster under the knees, and an additional blanket to cover yourself for added comfort. Make sure you assume a position that offers optimal comfort.
- The instructor or audio session then helps you relax through a soothing sound, which can be a frequency or a sound; you will take a moment to control your breathing through deep repetition and intentionally calming your muscles.
Continue breathing deeply
As the yoga teacher helps you relax through a sequence of repetition, you should focus on various sensations throughout your body including the sensations in your mouth, extremities, as well as subtle sensations of temperature. This process typically starts with your legs, working your way up as you relax every part of your body.
Once your awareness has scanned through your entire body and has reached the crown of your head, allow it to linger there for a while before doing the whole process in reverse. Then repeat the process all over again for a couple of times.
- Through this delicate process, your body should slip into a deep sleep, and yet your awareness should remain in complete conscious alert. Notice that thoughts might try to keep popping in your head, especially when you are starting out.
You will soon learn to counter them by allowing them to drift away until you are deeply relaxed and there is nothing left. When you gain momentum with this process, you will begin to realize that your awareness and your thoughts are not the same thing. This knowledge will give you the power to separate your meditation experience from your thoughts much more easily.
It is crucial to understand that the first few sessions might not work out as intended and you may find yourself either distracted by your thinking mind or maybe even end up drifting too far into an actual sleep. After you gain stability and feel more familiar with the sequence, you will really start to appreciate the flow of this unique form of yoga.
A Final Glance at Yoga Nidra Meditation
Yoga nidra is not overly complicated, but this deceptively powerful meditation practice might take a while to reach the full potential of deep level consciousness.
When done properly, yogis who perform yoga nidra regularly are able to purify their state of mind and improve their physical and psychological health dramatically. As a matter of fact, yoga nidra meditation could just be your breakthrough moment when it comes to meditation.