Yoga Nidra (Yogic Sleep): A Meditation Practice for Deep Sleep & Healing - hair buddha
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Yoga Nidra (Yogic Sleep): A Meditation Practice for Deep Sleep & Healing

What matters is to live in the present, live now, for every moment is now. It is your thoughts and acts of the moment that create your future. ~ Sai Baba

We have forgotten to use our body’s innate wisdom to heal us. Even for a simple headache we straight away reach for a pain-killer. We don’t let our body’s intuitive wisdom tell us what can be causing the headache. And we don’t trust our body’s amazing healing potential (power of self-healing), instead we take external help, in this case a pain-killer.

But how can we use our body’s intuitive power when our mind is constantly occupied with the thoughts of past or future. And if we are not thinking then we are distracted by work, family, social media, television, phone, people, adverts or zillion other things.

The other issue is of our emotional health. No matter how healthy our lifestyle is, if we are emotionally weak and vulnerable our physical health will suffer. The healthy, nutritious food that we eat will not be absorbed well by our intestine. And we will look undernourished, our skin will be dull, hair will be lanky and we will have less energy and therefore fatigue easily.

If you see yourself engaged in these conversations, ‘I am doing everything I know of to improve my healthy and it’s not getting better?’ or ‘what am I doing wrong?’ Then you need to question your emotional health rather than digging up physical health in isolation. What is your response to stress? How do you cope with unpleasant situations? How do you react when you don’t get acknowledged at work?

Our response to failure, criticism, rejection, loneliness, and loss plays a big part in determining our overall health. We cannot be truly healthy by just taking care of our body and neglecting our better half – mind. The word is holistic health – taking care of your body, mind and spirit, that’s when you will experience vibrant health.

There is enough said and done about physical health, but we have very limited knowledge when it comes to empowering self and taking care of emotional health. While friends and family can help you to an extent, it is you who will have to work to make yourself emotionally strong. Also, many a times family and friends themselves are emotionally weak and they may be unable to help. So here again you need to trust your own wisdom and inner strength to uplift and empower you. Here is an excellent ted talk by renowned psychologist Guy Winch on importance of emotional health.

Yoga nidra or restful sleep is the simplest method to improve both your physical and emotional health. Practicing this asana will help you focus on the present and at the same time empower you to relax, heal and rejuvenate your body and mind.

What Is Yoga Nidra?

Yoga nidra is a state of consciousness, which is, neither sleep nor awaken, neither is it concentration, nor hypnotism. You remain in deepest state of rest, but at the same time aware of your surroundings. In this state of deep relaxation you allow your body to heal itself and get emotionally rejuvenated. It’s as if you are deriving power from the source (God or universe) to replenish your reservoirs.

Through this ancient practice you will slowly become aware of your inherent dormant potentialities and thus become better at coping with stress and worry. As you progress you will notice that along with your physical health, you will begin to experience better mental health. Research shows that yoga nidra can be used as a therapeutic technique to cure psychological problems like insomnia, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, lack of energy, hopelessness etc. It is also helpful in treating psychosomatic diseases like asthma, hypertension, coronary heart disease, low back ache, headaches, dermatitis and ulcers.

Benefits Of Yoga Nidra

  • Your body becomes completely relaxed and tension free. And in this state it can rejuvenate and heal itself from illness.
  • Your mind and spirit gets complete rest. And there is no space for negativity, worry and stress.
  • Yoga nidra awakens the hidden creative and learning abilities of the practitioner.
  • Your concentration improves.
  • You feel empowered and capable of achieving the unattainable.

How to do Yoga Nidra?

The practice involves mindfulness of body and breath, visualization and resolve. Here is a video on yoga nidra by notable yoga guru Ramdev baba – I am pasting both Hindi and English links (the English translation is not that good but take what you can.) Also I highly recommend this book if you are keen to learn yoga nidra.

Here’s how to do this amazing practice.

Body & Breath Awareness

Yoga nidra is practiced in flat lying position, with face up. You can do it anytime, but it is especially beneficial when you do it at night just before sleeping so that your subconscious mind gets working to bring what you desire.

  • Lie on your back with your legs and arms straight and in line with your body.
  • Place your legs about one feet apart. Release any hold on them and let your feet drop out to the sides.
  • Also place your arms about a feet apart. Keep both hands open and palm facing towards the ceiling.
  • Make sure your head rests on the centre part of your skull. If your head falls back, use a folded towel or sheet under the head.
  • Slowly close your eyes and release the eyeballs into their socket and relax.
  • Now bring your attention on your breath. Feel the breath going in and out of your chest.
  • And become aware of each part of your body.
  • You may get distracted by necessary or unnecessary thoughts, but bring your attention back to your breath, allowing the breath to gradually (and automatically) become soft and even.

Note: If lying straight does not feel comfortable, place a pillow under your knees.

Visualization

Visualization works to clear the blocked channels and heal our body and mind. You start by visualising each part of your body and see it getting healthier and rejuvenated. You can start from the feet and work your way up to the head or vice versa. Relax each and every muscle of the body. Let loose the body. Spend more time on the area which is unhealthy and needs healing.

  • With your eyes closed visualise the toes and the feet, and let go of any tension. Imagine it to be totally healthy, relaxed, and capable to supporting your body.
  • Thereafter move to your ankles, and experience their relaxation.
  • Now visualise your calf and front of the leg. Picture them to be absolutely healthy, tension free and in state of complete rest.
  • Then move on to your knee joints and see them healthy, tension free, and supported by the muscles around.
  • Move up to look at thighs and hip joints and experience them also to be in a state of complete rest.
  • Now focus your attention on abdominal organs – your liver, kidney, pancreas, stomach, intestine, reproductive system, etc. See them to be calm, peaceful and stress-free.
  • Then with relaxed mind focus on your heartbeats. While listening to your heart beats vision that your heart is completely relaxed and in good health. Blood is flowing freely through the blood vessels and there is no disease in the circulatory system.
  • Then, visualise your lungs. See them expanding and contracting and bringing fresh oxygen for your body. envision them to be free from stress and in state of total health.
  • Then, one by one, see your shoulders, arms, forearms, wrists, and fingers. See them healthy, loosened and in complete rest.
  • Then focus on your neck, back and buttocks and visualise them to be healthy and completely relaxed. And if you have any back pain simply see it melting away into the ground. Send that area lot of love and peace and see it getting better.
  • Relax any tension that might be on the face – around the eyes, forehead, jaws and cheeks.
  • Finally bring your attention to your spinal cord and brain. Experience them to be calm, quiet, and in a state of total rest.

Resolve

Intention is one of the most powerful forces there is. Your trust in your body’s healing abilities will make it heal faster and achieve its full potential. You only have to sow the seeds of intention and let the universe handle the details for you. And you will have serendipitous encounters to help you attain your goals. Do not get impatient when don’t see the results. Simply release what you desire and enjoy the present moment as it is.

The past and future are in your imagination, only the present is real. And when you stay in the present your mind will be calm and relaxed, and you will feel more powerful and courageous. In this peaceful state you can watch your breath or recite a mantra ( e.g. om, shiv, allah, or pick any word you like) and surrender completely to the divine guidance. Feel or think as if you are receiving the power to attain success in your endeavours. Always have pure and positive thoughts and that is when you will experience pure bliss.

 

  • harshavardu

    Exactly what i believe in. Mind and body need to work cohesively to make anything work. Wonderful thoughts and work, thank u!

  • Pallavi

    Hi Minaz, I’ve been following your posts for sometime now. Can you pls suggest a homemade toner, cleanser and moisturiser for my face? I have normal to oily skin and am 35 years old.

    • Hi Pallavi, I have similar skin. I use ubtan to wash my face and then moisturise using a few drops of natural oils such as almond or jojoba. Some times I also use pure shea butter.

      • Pallavi

        Pls don’t mind ya, but what is ubtan?

        • ubtan is ayurvedic blend of herbal powders. If you live in India, it’s easily available in beauty store/section.

  • pure virgin coconut oil ____

  • hi minaz thanks for your reply 🙂 my hair are normal not oily or combination and also at the moment i am applying west Indian castor oil and pure virgin oil mixed together is this good for my hair problem i have bald patches as i i have been pulling my hair since 2 years ago can u please suggest any good oil or remedies for my hair kindly please 🙂

    • Minaz Aslam

      Hello Hiba, that’s a good combination, continue using it and let us know how it goes. Best wishes.

  • i also need help for my hair i have hair pulling problem and i have bald patces which oils are gd for regrow new hair i have been useing ciconut oil bt dosent help pls kindly help thanks

    • Minaz Aslam

      Hiba, can u describe your hair, so that I can suggest some oil for you.

  • hi my name is hiba i cant sleep at night time inreally need help thanks

  • sayali mahajan

    Really helpful article. SO nice to use it practically.

    Thanks a lot for sharing such beautiful knowledge !!!!!

    Sayali

    • Minaz Aslam

      Hi Sayali, glad you liked it 🙂
      Thanks for commenting!

  • Aparna

    This is such a lovely article Minaz. I find yoga nidra so relaxing. We mostly tend to disconnect form our inner self in midst of all the madness around. It feels so nice to read your writing that brings so much positivity. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

    • Minaz Aslam

      Hi Aparna, thanks for your kind words 🙂

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