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Understanding Deep Relaxation through Yoga nidra.

By Arun Goel

I received quite a few responses to my newsletter last week on “Yoga Nidra”. It was particularly pleasing to know that some of you were already on your way to explore its virtues.

However, the feedback also suggested that many wished for a further elaboration on the “awareness rotation" techniques.
For the benefit of these, I shall try to put as much as I can into words. If, however, youweren’t one of those inquisitive few, please ignore this issue.

Ok, where do I begin? Before I do so, let me clarify that Yoga nidra is done while lying down flat on the back (Shavasana). While this may seem obvious to some, there were many doubts on this score so that should settle it.

AIM OF THESE TECHNIQUES

The whole purpose of these “awareness rotation” techniques is to “disconnect” from the outside world and begin to relax INSIDE at the mental level. This whole process is called involution of the senses.

Initially, when you close your eyes and try to focus inwardly, your mind behaves like a naughty child. It does the direct opposite of what you instruct it to do!! So we use this mischievous tendency against itself.

SOUND ROTATION:

The first part involves the “sound rotation awareness”. In this you are asked to listen to all the sounds that you can hear and rotate your awareness from one sound to the next and so on. This is not easy – our natural tendency is to focus and analyze each sound which in turn triggers thought and memory. This must not be done. You should move from one sound to the other just witnessing it, without getting affected and moving on. With practice, the mind starts getting bored of this stupid game and disconnects itself from all sounds. This is the desired effect!!

BODY AWARENESS:

The next phase is very important. It is the rotation of body awareness and it involves two aspects. One is to disconnect the tactile senses and the other is to establish the link of mental / physical awareness. Just as you disconnected the sense of sound previously, you are now disconnected from the sense of touch by progressive guidance of the instructor.

With practice, you will notice that you cannot feel your body anymore physically – it doesn’t seem to be there. This again is the desired effect. But it will happen only if you are AWAKE and aware.

EFFECT OF BODY AWARENESS:

The rotation of body awareness stimulates different parts of the brain that control each and every body nerve. When you are aware of each part of your body, you are actually massaging the corresponding part in the brain as well. You establish the connection between the body and the mind.

This powerful technique in Yoga Nidra has in fact been responsible for several people with disabilities experiencing a certain part of the body for the first time.

BREATH AWARENESS:

From these physical and mental experiences of body awareness, you are led to a more subtle experience – that of breath or “Prana”. By lying still and “watching” the process of normal breathing in Yoga nidra, greater relaxation of body and mind is achieved. In this stage, you are made to observe your breath and its effects upon different parts of your body. When practicing this, you are not supposed to alter your breath in any way. Nor is there any effort imposed upon the natural breath – just observe what is happening….

EFFECTS OF BREATH AWARENESS:

Through these methods, you will be able to understand what really goes inside – which aspects of your personality are the causes and which are the effects of your thoughts, feelings and actions.

The breath is like the bridge between the body and mind – a link between our conscious thoughts, and feelings with the mental imagery stored in the mind.

BENEFITS:

Often during yoga nidra, repressed material from the conscious and subsconcious layers of the mind surfaces. This happens because the blocks and psychological barriers have been removed because of the induced relaxation. It is at such times that you see the solution to such “repressions” clearly. That is why people arise from Yoga Nidra feeling that a great burden has been removed from within.

As you can see, the awareness rotation techniques seek to create an environment of “enhanced relaxation”.

Once this environment is created, the next step is to increase the performance, creativity and capacity of the mind manifold through subtle vibrations of mantra and visualization techniques. The Beginners Course that I mentioned in my last newsletter, incorporates these Mantra and visualization methods in its Yoga Nidra audio CD. For your benefit, you can go there by click here

I hope that I have succeeded in throwing some more light on this mystical topic WITHOUT it appearing too far out. Hope it helps.

All the best,
Arun Goel

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