WHAT IS YOGA NIDRA?

Nidra means sleep but Yoga Nidra is not sleep as we all know.
It is more the state between sleep and wakefulness, sleep with awareness.
It is also not concentration but deep meditation. In Yoga Nidra the intellect is switched off and unconscious and subconscious levels of mind are opening. That which we call daily life is lead by the unconscious in us and in this level of mind live the samskaras, the impressions from our entire life. Alike in meditation, in Yoga Nidra we are getting the access to the deepest of our nature. Just deeply relaxed mind can get to its real nature.

HOW YOGA NIDRA IS PRACTICED

Yoga Nidra is performed laying on the back with palms turned upwards, with closed eyes, in a quiet and warm room filled with warm and cosy light, dressed in comfortable clothing.
In Yoga Nidra you don’t do anything else than listening instructions following them mentally, but with no attachment and concentration. Your restless mind does not scan, pack, analyze, judge and measures like in the awake state. It does not fight but it let go. In Yoga Nidra you are just letting go.

At the beginning of practice the body relaxes gradually and the breath is perceived. After that you will find yourself on the journey through the world of your feelings, as well as the visualization of your chakras (psychic, energy centers), objects and symbols.
Yoga Nidra brings tremendous peace and transformation. The Yoga Nidra practice brings us to our nature closely and it transforms the nature of our mind. It eliminates fear, claims creativity, regenerate skin and the inner body. It is said that one hour of Yoga Nidra is equal with couple of hours of sleep. Yoga Nidra is also a self-healing method.

Yoga Nidra was described in ancient tantric scriptures. Swami Satyananda has developed the method of Yoga Nidra. However, it is not his own discovery.

HOW DOES YOGA NIDRA AFFECT THE BRAIN

The computer behind our eyes, the brain, is a very powerful and the most complexed organ, and no one knows what percentage of our brain do we really use. Among many other proves, it is known that the brain is the center of our nervous system, it controls all the other organs in the body and that inside of the brain there are billions of cells which are in constant electrochemical communication between each other, even in sleep. That electric web collects informations, packs them and processes them in different ways. This is what is happening in a awake state.

The electrical communication between the cells in the brain happen in waves which are passing in different number of cycles in a second. How many circles are passing per second is called a frequency and those frequencies can be measured by the instrument called the electroencephalograph (EEG). The unit of frequency is Hertz.
The modern instruments can measure the frequencies of the brainwaves which oscillate up amplitude of 100 Hertz. Like the waves of the ocean, they can be big and need more energy, or small and need less energy. The fastest brainwaves are Gamma waves and the slowest are Delta waves. The discoveries about the border between the waves differ, but this is what the most neuroscientist agree about:

– Gamma (25-100 Hz):
the fastest waves but with very small amplitude, which means that need little energy. It is like the speed of the lightening, like in the highest samadhi state. When the brain works on this waves, the human consciousness is on the highest level of perception, memory, concentration, insight, happiness, compassion, calmness, self control, feeling of unity. In the highest meditative state the brain works on this waves. Those waves unite the activities and informations in the brain with each other, like the samadhi state is melted knowledge. Visions happen.
Tenderness, honesty and love increase those waves in the brain.

– Beta (12-25 HZ):
the most active state of consciousness in daily life, a waking state where the brain processes informations, scans, cuts, puts together, splits, analyzes, judges, makes decisions. The hormone (a chemical which are transporting messages between the brain centers) which is realized by the pineal gland (a pea-sized organ in the center of the brain, a physical connection to the „third eye“) is serotonin, it balances mood, appetite, body weight. High level of this chemical lead to anxiety, hyperactivity, alcoholism and lack of it to depression. The adrenaline glands (above the kidneys) secret the cortisol hormone, so called the stress hormone, but also involved in the increasing the immunity and against inflammations.
There is no regeneration of the body.
The conscious mind.

– Alpha (7-12 Hz):
a deep relaxation, conscious dreaming, when the eyes are closed, relaxed state but not sleeping state. Calmness in this state lead to the deeper state of consciousness. The body and mind are refreshed and brought into the harmony. This is the frequency of the brain waves when we are in touch with nature.
The superconscious mind.

Theta (4-7 Hz):
the state where the sense are withdrawn form the outer world, sleeping state and dreaming, also deep meditation, day dreaming, fantasy, imagining, addictions are cured, inner wisdom is awakening.
The subconscious mind.

Delta (0-4 Hz):
the slowest waves, dreamless sleep, deepest meditation, deepest relaxation, tremendous feeling of piece and transformation, regeneration of the body cells. This brainwaves affect the pineal gland which releases the anti-aging, growth hormones (the chemicals made in the brain) and the melatonin hormone. The pineal gland (epiphyses) reacts on light and when there is no light, it releases the melatonin hormone.
A chemical melatonin is one of the most powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants are molecules which are the best fighters against the free-radicals, which are the biggest enemy of health and life.
Free-radicals are little units which are normally very important because they are regulating many body processes, but under certain circumstances they react different and in contact with other body particles, they can damage them causing many serious diseases in the body. Stress, aging, injuries, radiation, drugs, pollution, wrong nutrition are sources of this harmful appearances.
Antioxidants are fighting the harmful free radicals, they have the rejuvenating effect on the body and they improve the immune system. This is why the deepest relaxation is important, because deepest relaxation releases the important fighters against aging and diseases.
The unconscious mind.

Now, most of the day we live under the Beta waves which are very active. Overactivity will caused sleepless nights, restless breath and agitated mind. As long as you switch the light off, lay down on the floor and start the practice of Yoga Nidra, the most active frequencies of the brain will be turned off and begin to change into the alpha state of consciousness. The alpha state will then bring your consciousness to the Delta brain waves which are the most rejuvenating waves for complete body-mind system and where your samskaras, the impressions from the entire life, live. Yoga Nidra belongs to Delta state of consciousness, as the tremendous peace, transformation and rejuvenation belong to the deepest relaxation.
This is how Yoga Nidra makes you capable to access the unconscious informations in your brain, the samskaras.

MAPPED BRAIN

In the outer layer of the brain, the cortex, there are areas that, via receptors, receive and process information from touch, sight and sound. Those areas control certain parts of the body.
The cortex looks like a map.

picture source: wikipedia

This „little man“, the Homunculus illustrates different parts of the body and the location of their innervation in the brain. The bigger importance of the senses and their organs, the larger areas in the cortex.

As touch, speech and walking are of a great importance for us humans, the centers in our cerebral cortex for those faculties are the largest.

Yoga Nidra uses the map of the brain.
The relaxation begins with hands.

 FURTHER BENEFITS OF YOGA NIDRA

We all watch and listen, but most of us do it quite superficial. Through practice of Yoga Nidra, the mind will be sharpened enough not only to listen and watch the environment with deep intention and understanding, but it will also develop the insight into the deepest inner world of own emotions, feelings, impressions. The practice of  Yoga Nidra will, alike higher stages of pranayama and meditation, make us capable to notice the things which we did not notice before and to process that new informations in the most fruitful way. It will enable us to deprogram the old patterns and to learn from own mistakes.