Do you realize you feel more rested after a short power nap versus long hours of sleep? This is because, in a power nap, relaxation takes place consciously.
As you are already aware, four energy sources nourish the human body. They are food, breath, meditation & sleep. Nidra, or sleep, refreshes the mind and nourishes the body.
Yoga Nidra in Sanskrit means Yogic sleep. Yoga Nidra means to sleep consciously. It is a state of deep relaxation that encourages us to go into the subconscious mind and helps melt accumulated tensions & stress.
The Monkey Mind
Did you know that tension in the body & mind is interconnected? Anxiety manifests itself through body ailments & illnesses. The stress results impact the nervous system, suppress emotions and trigger overthinking. All these together impact the quality of our sleep. A good night’s rest can only happen when the body is fully relaxed and any emotional, physical or mental pent-up stress is completely released.
This is where the practice of Yoga Nidra can elevate the quality of your overall well-being. Yoga Nidra guides you through the various layers of your being, which helps release tension. It is complete relaxation of the body while the mind is awake. A state of consciousness in between sleep and being awake.
You are your Thoughts
We all have thoughts that have patterns that strengthen with time. Yoga Nidra trains the brain to view our thoughts from a new perspective. This is possible because the practice of Yoga Nidra allows you to enter an altered state of conscious awareness.
Rather than being fully absorbed by your thoughts, you are able to step aside and watch your thoughts from a distance. This new perspective guides you to retrain your pattern of thinking.
Yoga Nidra & Five Koshas
Interestingly Yoga Nidra & the koshas are very closely connected. The meditative practice of Yoga Nidra takes you through the Pancha Kosha, or the five layers of the self.
Each of the five koshas is interconnected to Yoga Nidra. To learn more about Koshas, you may visit our blog page, which features a dedicated blog on the five koshas.
Annamaya Kosha (The Physical Layer)
This includes the muscles, bones, ligaments & tendons. It's simple to identify & associate since it can be felt, seen and touched. In the practice of Yoga Nidra, being aware is important.
Experiencing each of our physical body parts from head to toe through a body scan by observing and being a silent witness is key.
Pranamaya Kosha (The Energy Layer)
As you know, our prana (energy) travels through our nadis. By observing the breath, we become more aware of the rise and fall of every inhalation and exhalation.
A more subtle experience than the physical layer, yet it is possible to experience and feel this layer. Focusing on the breath helps enhance the prana & overall energy in the body.
Manomaya Kosha (The Emotional Layer)
It is complex and home to emotions and mental health. Stagnant emotions & energies reside here. It's human to tend to ignore feelings we are uncomfortable with.
As these emotions simmer beneath the surface, they eventually erupt when we reach breaking point or are triggered by external situations and influences.
The practice of Yoga Nidra allows us to deal with these emotions by firstly acknowledging them. A feeling of lightness or heaviness in a certain part of the body can also be experienced as you explore this intricate yet much-needed Kosha.
Vijnanamaya Kosha (The higher Intelligence Layer)
It is more intuitive kosha in nature. It can be associated with our ‘Gut Feelings’. We often communicate or arrive at hasty decisions when our minds, thoughts and words are racing. A busy and confused mind results in careless actions. This kosha taps into our inner wisdom and insight.
During Yoga Nidra, this kosha is addressed through the process of visualization or storytelling with detailed aspects woven in. For example, a visualization narration could be – ‘Imagine a lush green forest with tall, scents pine trees.
The morning mountain air is crisp and perfumed with the sweet fragrance of pines. As you slowly walk towards a gurgling river, you notice the sound of the chirping birds in the far distance as bright ochre yellow butterflies dart around the pathway, almost leading you towards your destination.
This process of vivid storytelling allows us to be a witness to our higher intelligence layer & it gently nudges us to listen and feel this deep inner state of being.
Anandamaya Kosha (The Bliss Layer)
It is the last of the five koshas and the subtlest of all the koshas.
In Yoga Nidra, this Kosha can be experienced in the moments of silence post-practice and before it completely ends. Upon awakening from this yogic sleep, there is a feeling of unity between the body, breath and mind.
This feeling, put in words, can be experienced as wholesome, peaceful and one of complete stillness. When these are the outcomes of your practice, it implies that all your layers have been well taken care of.
We hope you savour this beautiful yet profound practice and include it in your daily routine. After all, like everything else in yoga, enjoy the process and the journey towards self-awareness and inner joy.