Sleeping with Awareness and Coming into Balance
Yoga Nidra is a powerful relaxation technique that uses a systematic method to induce complete physical, mental and emotional relaxation with the ultimate aim of increasing self-awareness. It is a practice that is easily accessible to all, requiring very little effort to enter a meditative state.
During the practice, the student’s awareness is progressively withdrawn from the external world; the body; the process of breathing; the conscious mind and finally the unconscious mind. The consciousness is then in a state between waking and sleeping. Here the mind is exceptionally receptive, and this is where yoga nidra becomes very powerful. For example, yoga nidra can help de-stress, improve sleep, develop the memory, undo bad habits and transform one’s nature.
During yoga nidra it is possible to use a sankalpa (see more details below). A sankalpa, also known as a resolve, is a short, positive statement designed to guide you and give you purpose. It can be a powerful way of reshaping your personality and direction in life. During a yoga nidra, this short mental statement is said at the beginning and end of the practice. Here it is planted and impressed deeply into the subconscious mind just when the mind is receptive and sensitive; when the mind is calm and quiet.
Optimum Conditions for yoga nidra practice.
You normally lie on your back in savasana (corpse pose) but choose any comfortable position that is right for you.
Ideally wear loose fitting clothing.
You should make sure you are warm, using a blanket/light cover.
Remove jewellery, watches and glasses before the start of yoga nidra.
A yoga nidra in a class setting is usually between 15-25 minutes.
Don’t “try”. Do your best to avoid the ‘thinking mind’ taking over.
It is stated that a single hour of yoga nidra is as restful as four hours of conventional sleep.
Don’t worry, you can’t always avoid falling asleep.
Yoga nidra is a great treasure for healing, insight and empowerment.
Introduction to Sankalpa
A Sankalpa, also known as a resolve, is a short, positive statement designed to guide you and give you purpose. It can be a powerful way of reshaping your personality and direction in life.
During a Yoga Nidra, this short mental statement is said at the beginning and end of the practice. Here it is planted and impressed deeply into the subconscious mind just when the mind is receptive and sensitive; when the mind is calm and quiet.
It may take some time to discover the right sankalpa for you.
You may have a temporary sankalpa, an emergency sankalpa and later on; a life sankalpa.
Initially, you could create ‘stepping stone’ sankalpa; a sankalpa with a specific intention, helping you to go one step at a time on the journey towards your True Nature.
A good place to start is to begin with how you feel. What is the first thing that comes to mind? Perhaps you want to invite more compassion, kindness or gratitude into your life. Perhaps you want to become more present or mindful or become better at letting go. For e.g. If you are feeling unstable you might want to transform your intention into feeling more balanced. “I am balanced in mind and body.” Take your time, sit with it, feel it, reflect on it.
Alternatively, you may have an intention to quitting smoking, get fit, lose weight etc… Therefore, one stepping stone could be “I take care of my body.”
Having worked with this sankalpa and seen it manifest, further down the road the sankalpa might become “I love my body” or “l love myself” or even “I am love itself”. It’s an evolutionary process.
A sankalpa is a deeply held fact that is true in the present moment, therefore it is important to use phrases like “I am” or “I will”. – here it means the use of will power rather than future tense.
Keep your sankalpa short (4- 8 words are ideal), use language comfortable for you, be clear and positive and say it with full determination, conviction and confidence.- make sure there is energy behind it.
Once you’ve made it, write it down, keep it private, say it exactly as you wrote it every time. Use it for some time and see how you get on. It could take some time to see changes. If it really doesn’t resonate with you, change it and try again.
Be patient. It may take some time to discover the right sankalpa for you and it may change over time.
You can also have an emergency sankalpa for certain times such as illness or stress, as well as a life sankalpa.
In Yoga Nidra, the sankalpa you state at the start of a practice is like sowing a seed and preparing the mind. The sankalpa stated at the end is like irrigating it. When the mind is clear the sankalpa grows well, so once you have planted the seed in the bed of your mind, it is important to nourish it as best you can. You can use it in meditation or prayer. You can repeat your sankalpa before you get out of bed, just before you go to sleep, or anytime you feel it would benefit you.
A sankalpa is:
Positive – eliminate negative words. It reflects your will and commitment to manifest change or transform some part of your life or personality.
Concise – about four to eight words long. As short as possible
Natural – use language you are familiar with.
Authentic – your sankalpa addresses a deep longing within you
Private – don’t share or discuss your sankalpa
I am strong/confident/energetic
I am strong and able to overcome obstacles
My health is improving every day
I am successful in all I undertake
I am kind and loving
I love and accept myself exactly as I am
I will achieve total health
I am (feeling) loved/more compassionate/loving
I can deal with whatever life brings
I am becoming more balanced/stable/grounded/content