The literal meaning of Yoga Nidra is yogic sleep.
It's not the same as sleeping, though.
In Yoga Nidra, your mind is awake, but the five senses are resting completely.
You're temporarily disconnected from the outside world and from all the input that you have to deal with all day long.
It's a deep state of relaxation, where your body is resting, but your mind is awake.
Yoga Nidra is the ultimate relaxation technique for releasing stress and tension held in your body. It releases physical tensions, slows down mental activity, and allows deeply held emotions to dissipate gradually and safely.
The Practice of Yoga Nidra
A Yoga Nidra practice is typically divided into eight stages:
* Preparation: The practice of Yoga Nidra is performed while lying in Shavasana, Corpse Pose, with the eyes closed. The focus is on relaxing the body and mind through awareness of stillness, comfort, breath and listening to any external sounds with the attitude of a witness.
* Sankalpa: Once the body and mind are relaxed, you say your Sankalpa (resolve) mentally three times in a clear and positive way with determination and confidence.
* Rotation of consciousness: During this stage, awareness is rotated around the different body parts in a systematic way. You move your mind quickly according to the instructions from one body part to the other.
* Breath awareness: You're asked to become aware of the natural flow of your breathing and count each inhalation and exhalation mentally.
* Opposite feelings and sensations: During this stage, attention is on physical and emotional sensations by instructing pairs of opposite feelings or sensations such as heat and cold, heaviness and lightness, pain and pleasure, love and hate, etc.
* Visualization: Awareness is taken to the dark space in front of the closed eyes. You're then instructed to visualize some objects, stories or situations.
* Sankalpa: You repeat your Sankalpa mentally three times with full dedication, faith and optimism.
* End of the practice: Becoming aware of your external surroundings again, slowly moving and stretching your body.
How to discover your Sankalpa
The Sankalpa is a short and clear resolution about something you want to apply in life. Literally, Sankalpa means determination.
Don't think that this resolve will magically come true. The Sankalpa is not something you fantasize about, but a practice to exercise willpower.
The Sankalpa is a direct, short and positive statement. Not something negative that you want to give up, but something positive that you will do.: "I will….."
Finding a meaningful Sankalpa might take time. It can be a small but important thing in your personality that you wish to change or develop, or it can be a long-term goal.
Whatever the Sankalpa is, once chosen, it shouldn’t be changed until it becomes reality.
Your Sankalpa is yours alone. You don't share it with anyone and you don't have to think about it. You only give attention to your Sankalpa during the Yoga Nidra practice.
The Sankalpa is like a seed that is planted deep in the soil of the subconscious mind. Each time you repeat your Sankalpa, its growth is stimulated in your subconscious and unconscious mind. With regular repetition, its power increases. It grows and breaks through into the light of the conscious mind and your waking life.
Discovering your Sankalpa is a process of listening. Your heartfelt desire is already present and it doesn't need to be invented. It is waiting to be seen, heard, and felt.
Be willing to hear the message of your heartfelt desire. It may take courage to listen to your heart. Take time to reflect on what you hear. You must be willing to act on your desire.