Yoga nidra: meditation with a cherry on top.
Yoga nidra meditation is a sleep-based meditation technique. It is literally yogic sleep, sleep with full awareness. The body sleeps but the mind remains awake listening to guided instructions. It feels like a nap, and some say just fifteen minutes feels like one hour of sleep in your body.
I call it "meditation with a cherry on top" because you get all the benefits of meditation plus deep sleep.
Here are a few of the key benefits:
- Minimizes tension and counteracts stress. In our modern world, many people are in a state of tension and frustration - muscular tension, emotional tension and nervous tension. The mind is always in a state of arousal. In the practice of yoga nidra meditation, the mind is relaxed through breathwork and guided rotation through the body, thereby releasing the mental tensions. As a result, through a regular practice of yoga nidra, tensions at the physical, emotional and mental level can be minimized.
- Relaxes and trains the mind. The subconscious mind is obedient. During yoga nidra meditation we use a sankulpa, a deep heartfelt intention, and plant it in the subconscious mind when the body is relaxed and ready to absorb and accept it. Also, when awareness is rotated on the different body parts during yoga nidra meditation, it not only induces physical relaxation but also clears the nerve pathways to the brain.
- Clears up unconscious conflicts. From early childhood, we tend to repress wishes, desires and conflicts. During yoga nidra meditation the practice of visualization brings the unconscious repressed desires, experiences, conflicts and frustrations to the conscious level and then cuts off the personal identification with those experiences. As a result, the unconscious is cleared up.
- Awakens creativity. Several examples from the past indicate that creativity is a characteristic of a relaxed and calm mind. When the mind is totally relaxed, the awareness slowly enters the deeper realms (subconscious and unconscious) of the mind and the person becomes aware of the creative and intuitive faculties. Regular practice of yoga nidra helps in making a bridge between the conscious and unconscious mind, awakening creativity.
- Enhances memory and learning capacity. When yoga nidra meditation is used in education, both hemispheres of the student's brain are involved in learning the subject, whereas in classroom teaching the left hemisphere functions more. In this way, the practice of yoga nidra meditation involves the total mind in learning. A 1973 research study found that, "using the technique of yoga nidra it was possible to teach a foreign language in 1/5th of the time required by conventional methods". (Ostrander, S., & Schroeder, L., (1973). PSI - Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain, Abacus, UK, pp. 290-302.)