The author of the technique, Swami Satyananda Saraswati, a disciple of Swami Sivananda, created a special practice based on thousands of years of tantric techniques of working with consciousness, adapting the teachings to Western followers.Outwardly, the practice is simple, and there is only one asana in it – Shavasana. Lying on the back with arms and legs spread out, the students close their eyes and during the whole practice (from 20 minutes to an hour) are immobile. All work takes place inside – following the leader’s voice, practitioners consistently relax the body, visualize the proposed images, consider inhalations and exhalations and formulate their desires.
This “sleepy yoga” is primarily needed to achieve a deep conscious relaxation on three levels – physical, mental and emotional.
Ironically, deep relaxation for many presents greater complexity than the fulfillment of the 108 cycles of Surya Namaskar. According to the eight-step system of raja-yoga offered by Patanjali, Yoga Nidra refers to the higher levels, because it is the method of pratyahara – the removal of feelings from external objects. In Yoga Nidra, consciousness is distracted from external images and sounds, from the body, from the breath and the rational mind.
Practice always begins with the relaxation of certain parts of the body, which Satyananda called the rotation of consciousness, and this sequence is unchanged. Right hand thumb, index finger, middle, ring finger, little finger, palm, back of the palm, wrist, elbow, shoulder, armpit, right side of the trunk, right side of the waist, right thigh, knee cap, calf, ankle, heel, sole , the big toe, the second finger, the third, the fourth, the fifth … After the right half of the body, go to the left.
“The brain,” writes Satyananda, “is the physical mediator of consciousness, since it connects the mind, feelings and body into one harmonious unity.
The neurosurgeon acts on the body, stimulating the brain, the trainee acts on the brain, stimulating the body. The progressive movement of awareness, penetrating into all parts of the body, contributes not only to physical relaxation, but refreshes and cleanses the nerve channels that go to the brain and control both physical activity and the flow of information. So the Yoga-nidra relaxes the mind with the help of a relaxed body. ”
Map of the brain. One of the methods used in science to study brain functions is electrical stimulation. It has been proved that by stimulating certain points in the motor cortex on the body of a person lying with the eyes closed, one can cause movement of the hands, legs and other parts of the body. The researchers named this neurocard, or hologram of the physical body existing inside the white brain substance, the motor (motor) homunculus. As we found out, stimulation of sensory areas of the brain causes different sensations in the body. Yoga-nidra does everything on the contrary: with the help of consciousness it causes sensations in the body that stimulate the brain.
The sequence of rotation of consciousness in the body, according to Satyananda’s conviction, should not be violated, since this determines the correct flow of energy in the neural circuits and in the mobile homunculus. And this, in turn, provides deep relaxation, forms a spontaneous release of consciousness, detached from the sensory and motor channels. At every moment of Yoga nidra practice, all attention should be focused on the instructor’s voice: thus, the only active channel of perception (auditory) simultaneously directs consciousness, and helps to stay in the border phase, not to fall asleep. You do not need to specifically control breathing or try to forcibly exclude feelings – so the mind will remain restless and the tension will remain. It is necessary to observe the emerging images and thoughts detached, as a dispassionate witness,
After the relaxation is achieved, the time comes for the mental utterance of the sankalpa – intentions. Prior to the practice, students formulate certain intentions, expressed in brief form, and then repeat them several times throughout the class. As a rule, these are intentions about the development of one’s own personality. It is important that the sankalpa sounded in the form of a statement, not a negation, and concerned the practitioner himself. If you can not come up with your sankalpa, you can use the formulas that the instructor will suggest. The options are: “I want to awaken my spiritual strength”, “I will understand my purpose”, “I will achieve full recovery,” and so on.
If such installations seem too pretentious, you can wish yourself successful implementation of the nearest projects. However, every week a new desire will not work out: Sankalpa is not a magic wand, and the result will not appear right away. Relaxation of the body and rotation of consciousness – the precedent stage of the practice of sankalpe – help to calm the restless mind and release images from the subconscious; as soon as this is achieved, there comes the phase of awareness and high suggestibility – it transforms the personality.
Satyananda describes this as follows: “During the Yoga Nidra session, the subconscious field gradually reveals itself, and when it becomes more receptive to self-suggestion, a sankalpa is superimposed on it. It is important to choose the right moment when the rational mind loses its activity. Sankalpu is used both at the beginning of the lesson and after it. The sankalpa used in the beginning is similar to the planted seed; Used at the end – like irrigation. Each of us can “wreck” its mental structure, and there is no such person that can not be formed, as there is no such obsession or fear that could not be eliminated. ” This explanation of practice can create the erroneous impression that in Yoga Nidre you become the creator of your personality. This is not so: practice allows you to know yourself, to touch your unconscious, and then immerse yourself in it deeper. Satananda speaks separately about non-violence and an observant approach to his own psyche. The yoga-nidra must flow spontaneously – in accordance with the tantric laws. “You should not fight with your habits and root out your nature, because such actions only form internal discomfort. It’s not for nothing that many people who try to correct themselves using various creeds become aggressive schizophrenics, “Satyananda writes.
Extraction of matter
The practice of Yoga Nidra is capable of extracting a colossal psychic force from the depths of the subconscious to the surface. A huge number of impressions that we experience throughout life, sometimes without fixing in the mind and not thinking about them, are postponed in the subconscious and affect us. Everything that exists in the macrocosm is in the microcosm – in the form of archetypes. (Archetypes – according to the teachings of CG Jung – these are the structural elements of the collective unconscious, which underlie all mental processes). Yoga Nidra is able to displace archetypes from the “archives of the unconscious” into the realm of consciousness.
Creative visualization is a catalyst that provokes reactions in the unconscious. It often happens that the revealed accumulated impressions differ from the realized experience and are not even associated with it in any way. This is possible because a huge amount of information is stored in the unconscious in the form of symbols (compressed into symbols). Usually we do not have access to this layer of information, but by awakening images and symbols during deep relaxation, we can throw a bridge between wakefulness and the unconscious. In the implementation of this contact, the most important role is assigned to the teacher, who chooses symbols for visualization.
Symbols are either conditional or universal. The conditioned are related to the everyday experience, social, cultural, religious and other characteristics of the group. For representatives of different countries, social groups and even races, these images will be different. But there are also universal symbols, described by Jung in the late 1930s, they are not conditioned by any traditions and affect the consciousness of any person.
In Yoga Nidra, such symbols are mantras, yantras and mandalas. During the visualization of the symbols suggested by the teacher, the most unusual images may appear in the practitioner’s mind, for example a flowering garden or, on the contrary, ugly monsters. As a rule, all these are “worked-out”, “compressed” experiences: painful memories, fears, unfulfilled dreams.
“Our thoughts and actions are conditioned by samskaras (prints of past actions) – the main cause of anxiety and disease. The process of visualization enables us to purify our mind. This is the true indicator of yogic progress, “Satyananda teaches.
An obligatory part of practice is a consistent representation of opposite states: gravity-lightness, heat-cold, pain-pleasure. Each of these pairs of sensations has a corresponding pair of interacting think tanks, striving for balance. Thus, Satyananda believes, Yoga-nidra activates the body’s ability to self-regulation. The psychosomatic balance is restored by the release of the enslaved prana (vital force), which is distracted from the sensory channels and sensations in the pratyahara state and is attracted to over-strained tissues, glands and organs.
Ilya Zhuravlev, a specialist in Yoga-nidra, one of the founders of the school “Yoga108”
1. I received a Yoga-nidra technique from a graduate of the Bihar School of Yoga Swami Samarpananda Saraswati. In Russia at that time there was a Russian translation of Satyananda’s book Yoga Nidra, but it was made very casually, with a lot of mistakes (even parts of the body are confused). Pretty soon I made my editorial text, relying on the English original of Satyananda. Later I studied the techniques of immersion in trance states at the Moscow Institute of Group and Family Psychology and Psychotherapy with the famous hypnotherapist Professor MR Ginzburg. This gave a lot to understand how Yoga Nidra works.
2. Not all use Nidra fully. For example, some teachers leave only relaxation, but they take away sankalpa, visualization, chidakasha dharana (work with ajna-chakra), considering them dangerous. But these elements make the usual relaxation technique Nidra, work with consciousness and subconscious.
3. Satyananda compiled the Yoga Nidra known to us on the basis of tantric techniques and knowledge of psychology of the 70s and 80s. In Nydra, the trance guidance is used, in many respects similar to Ericksonian hypnosis. Based on the rules of effective trance guidance, I edited the texts of Satyananda, preserving all the key techniques in a traditional sequence, but made the Russian text more euphonious. This version of Nidra can be downloaded for free on the website of the school “Yoga108”.
4. Yoga Nidra with the built-in technique of immersion in the memories of past lives (Past Life Regression) – my innovative development. The fact is that the techniques of regressive hypnosis were developed by a group of American psychotherapists since the 50s – Michael Newton, Raymond Moody, Brian Wace. None of them used oriental doctrines in their work, but the possibility of viewing the memories of past lives described by them fully coincides with the teachings of Patanjali. So, for example, in two places “Yoga Sutras” there is a mention of the ability to view the events of past incarnations. Patanjali even designates the area of consciousness where samskaras (impressions of impressions) are stored in a separate term – karmashaya (“karma storehouse”). When immersed in past lives, we are dealing with the memories of past incarnations.
5. My favorite images for visualization are different versions of flights and the image of the ocean. Satyananda has a short but very symbolic visualization – the raging ocean of the subconscious, instinctual impulses and the vastly clear, calm air ocean of superconsciousness, our buddhi (the wisdom mind).
6. Sankalpa should be simple, clear, positive, aimed at solving a specific issue or problem. Do not ask for “world peace” or “immediate enlightenment”. With the help of sankalpa, it is necessary to solve actual problems, step by step moving towards harmony of body and spirit.
7. In Nidra, there must be a voice of the presenter – whether it is a record or a live class. And the presenter should be able to work with intonation, pauses, in the language of psychology, be able to immerse in trance, even, even, “broadcast” his calm state of mind to the students.
8. Someone solves his problems with one session and one sankalpa, and someone needs dozens of regular sessions – it depends on the person and the task. In any case, at least at the end of the working week, Nidra is very useful, and, if necessary, it can be practiced daily.
The technique of working with attention is based on all meditation, and Yoga Nidra is no exception. These techniques are really effective for changing the state of consciousness, but such changes alone do not lead to healing from mental ailments and psychological problems, but provide only an opportunity for such healing.
I think that the effectiveness of Yoga Nidra is not less (and no more) of any other meditative practice. In some scientific studies, the effectiveness of certain types of concentrative meditation (to which I would include the Yoga nidra) has been shown to lead to a decrease in the level of excitation and a decrease in anxiety.
Advancement in any meditation requires many years, but the first results begin to appear in a few months. In psychology, what Yoga-nidra defines as a sankalpa is called motivation, in this case the motive for recovery, it is considered one of the most important conditions for any therapy.