What Is A Yoga Nidra Practice ?
Yoga Nidra is making yourself as comfortable as possible physically so you can mediate without distraction. With traditional meditation you might sit upright on a cushion. But the rigid posture could become a little uncomfortable for some. Thats why we relax the body to easily access a state of consciousness that might have been inaccessible in a rigid traditional stance.
How to get started?
A great to get started is by building your "nest" as Tracee Stanley calls it in her book "Radiant Rest" She begins with ,"things that needed to be present to activate the relaxation response: A quiet environment A prayer repeated silently or aloud A comfortable position A passive attitude of “not worrying about how well one is performing the technique and simply putting aside distracting thoughts to return to one’s focus.”
The nest is whatever props help you feel most comfortable, things like pillows, blankets, or soft yoga blocks. Make sure to wear something comfortable. After you find a completely relaxed position, begin to chant the word "Aum." This chant may help connect you to the eternal part of yourself based in vibration.
How to meditate?
Get into corpse pose and get comfortable. Deep relaxation is our goal. Not falling asleep! Guided meditation is a good way to begin. This can also help us to stay awake. The meditation technique you maybe familiar with asks you to DO something. But thats not quite right. You should actually try to refrain from doing something: identifying with your thought.
Yoga Nidra experts can coach you through this process which asks you to notice each thought and let is pass by. Note you're not trying to stop your thoughts! Thats impossible. Yet you can notice them and make note of what kinds of thoughts you have. Body and mind are mostly out of your control. So trying to get upstream from your thoughts to stop them is beyond your capabilities.
What is the goal?
Our goal is to notice the incessant rushing thoughts that comprise our minds. Once again, a meditation practice is the opposite of doing something. If you find yourself trying to mediate, your going the wrong way. We want to step back and notice how the "self" we identify with is always the last to know whats going on.
The endless torrent of thoughts become new identities with each passing second. An angry thought makes "me" angry. And a happy thought makes "me" happy. But we are not our thoughts. A Yoga Nidra meditation will hopefully get us closer to a state of yogic sleep where this chaotic process becomes obvious.
A yoga teacher guiding yoga classes may correct your form. In this way, your meditation guide will call you back from getting lost in thought. They may ask you to notice the thought and let it pass, all with no judgment.
But what next?
The next step is applying these insights in every day life. Our nervous system is constantly reacting to the thoughts rushing through our brains. Yet we have a chance to put a little separation between the thought and the reaction.
On a more a metaphysical level, we can turn our lives into a living ritual. Tracee Stanley puts it like this. "Try seeing your practice as a twenty-four-hour cycle. Each breath, mantra, pose, mudra, or contemplation you are able to thread into your day makes up your Householder’s Flow."
But we also want to bridge the gap between practice and everyday life to feel empathy for those that different from "ourself." That is those those that are not "us." We tend to be most critical of others when we are feeling self conscious which is of course, the mistake of identifying with an insecure thought.
We are not our thoughts even though it feels that way. To be so immersed in our selves can make empathy quite difficult. When you step back for moment, its easy to see the constant signals of insecurity broadcast by people in most social settings. We can not be tuned into this phenomenon if we constrained by our own thoughts.
The practice of Yoga Nidra is often associated with a deep sleep, but as we know thats not quite right. We want to borrow the relaxation of a deep sleep physical so we may concentrate easily on our metal condition. Epicurus, the greek philosopher believed that happiness in the absence of pain, both mental and physical.
That is the great insight of Yoga Nidra. It leaves us with no excuse. Your body is comfortable in your little "nest" and the mind is free to turn consciousness upon itself, to notice consciousness and its contents. If meditation has always seemed a little to rigid and stuffy to you, Yoga Nidra is an appropriate option for absolutely anyone.