What's Yoga Nidra ?
Yoga Nidra is one of the lesser known yogic practices of yoga called pratyahara, sense withdrawal. Dr. David Frawley calls it "the forgotten limb" of the 8 limbed path of yoga. In this world, at the speed with which we live, we lose huge amounts of energy through overwhelming, continuous sensory stimulation, and even more through suppression of uncomfortable experiences and emotions. So much time and energy goes into struggling with thoughts and feelings. In fact, we think we’re awake and alert but we have many filters in place-all to allow us to receive huge amounts of information without feeling continuously overwhelmed. Yet there must be a time and place to simply unplug. But when? How?
Yoga nidra means “yogic sleep”, but instead of the state of dreaming or unconsciousness that we may associate with sleep, the sleep of yoga nidra is a state of heightened wakefulness, of great potentiality and greater consciousness. The deep physical relaxation that is induced in yoga nidra by closing down all senses except the sense of hearing allows the release of energy blocks- physical blocks that may be experienced as muscle tension, as well as the subtle emotional blocks that come as a result of unprocessed, suppressed or unwelcome emotions and experience. Once energy/ prana/ life force is free to move without resistance, by closing sensory losses, overtaxed tissues get their share of prana and can begin to heal. And even more basic to our "dis-ease" is our chronic sleep deprivation. The most recent studies indicate that 86% of Americans are sleep deprived!
Unremitting stress has many effects, not the least of which is suspending long term storage projects in the body. In a life threatening emergency, there is no need to digest food, reproduce or maintain immune surveillance. That, of course, is appropriate if there is a true emergency, but lately, we live with a “24/7, everything is an emergency” mindset! Prolonged shut down of long term projects can have a detrimental effect on all systems of the body, leading to diseases such as diabetes, infertility , and immune diseases such as adrenal fatigue, cancer and gastrointestinal dysfunction, and many of the "mystery illnesses"to name a few. Yoga nidra resets the body’s innate energy balance by reprogramming the autonomic nervous system, restoring one to a state of inner harmony and good health.
In this practice, you will be guided to a state of deep physical relaxation, followed by guided imagery designed to help release any subconscious habits (samskaras) and muscular energy blocks that may be utilizing a lot of energy and guiding or impeding daily activities, causing an “under the radar”energy drain. The usual practice is 1 to 1.5 hours long, including preparation for the practice using breath and gentle yoga, then 40-50 minutes of guidance to a deep level of relaxation and restoration. Most people report feeling energized after the practice, which has the physiologic effect of 2-8 hours of restful sleep. Yoga nidra offers deep physical, emotional, mental, physiologic and metabolic rest-the perfect antidote for the way we live today!