I love a vigorous, sweaty and challenging practice but I really love to slow it down. We hear yoga practitioners explaining that the goal of yoga is balance, said as they’re rushing through the city to the next pumping power yoga class. Everyone claims that savasana is their favourite pose but as soon as the time comes to lie down people leap up and run out!
How many people take photos of themselves performing savasana to post on facebook and show their friends? In the fast paced modern world where image is everything, it seems that the most challenging posture is actually savasana.
Yoga nidra is a deep relaxation, usually performed in savasana, that balances the left and right sides of the brain. It has been practiced for centuries by the wandering sadhus in India. Originating in the Satyananda yoga discipline, modern researchers now claim that 30 minutes of yoga nidra can provide the same benefits as 3 hours of sleep. During practice students set positive life goals for themselves using both the conscious and unconscious mind, and leave the studio feeling centred and with a smile on their face.
A typical session begins by entering into a relaxed state using gentle stretching and breathing exercises. The mind is then guided to create a ‘sankalpa’, a positive intention for that person. The next stage is body rotation of consciousness where the mind travels around each part of the body balancing the left and right sides before bringing the awareness to the breath. Visualisation techniques are used for sensory perception before beginning the journey into guided meditation. Once in a deep meditative state, the subconscious mind returns to the ‘sankalpa’ to reinforce the positive affirmation. A session concludes with externalisation and return to a normal state.
The joy of yoga nidra is spreading. Dallas Horton, who runs a photography company in Hong Kong, comments “I practice every day at home and also at the House of Light studio in Sheung Wan. The voice of the teacher in the live sessions at the House of Light helps guide me deeper in my practice”.
Next time you’re about to rush out of the yoga studio, linger a little longer in savasana. One of the best gifts to myself is time spent practicing yoga nidra. I was first introduced to this discipline when suffering from jet lag and it has been so beneficial that it is now a regular part of my practice.
Find balance in your yoga practice through yoga nidra. Take the time to slow down. It’s more challenging than you might think. Will you rise to the challenge?