Friday nights I usually keep as nights for myself. No continuing to run around after an already busy week. Just coming home and relaxing, taking care of small things, or doing something low key. Tonight I chose to go to the free session of Yoga Nidra at the Moving Mantra Yoga Studio. I’ve done yoga for many years now, and tried different formats of it, but this one was new and now my favorite.
When I go to sleep, my mind is still racing with things that happened in the day, things I need to do in the near future, or discussions I had with friends. In the last year or so, I’ve gained the ability to relax my whole self in order to sleep, but sometimes its difficult to clear all of that out to make sure I have a full night’s rest. Yoga Nidra is the cure for that. Yoga Nidra is the conscious awareness of the deep sleep state. You’re not exactly asleep, you are very relaxed, but still conscious of your surrounding—almost in a meditative state. This form relaxes and calms 90 percent of your mind and body, while keeping 10 percent of it still active through focusing on simple breathing exercises, relaxing your body, and using imagery.
We were told to lay a blanket on top of a yoga block, and diagonally angle a small body pillow from the block to the floor. Then we lied down on the body pillow and also had our knees somewhat elevated with a blanket tucked underneath. So you are basically sleeping at an angle and not flat on the yoga mat.
For one hour we were taken through rounds of deep breathing, while we focused on relaxing and becoming aware of each portion of our body. We had a few sets where we focused on counting backwards from 27 to 1 to deepen our relaxation. The third portion of the session was all focused on imagining and picturing calm scenery–birds flying into a red sunset, waves on an abandoned beach, a full moon,—just to name a few.
When we were done, I didn’t even realize an hour had passed and I felt very relaxed and calm—even several hours later. It’s amazing how one hour of those relaxation exercises and “sleeping while awake” can put the humdrum of hectic lives literally at rest. I highly recommend you try this at a local yoga studio if you can.
What are some of your favorite relaxation techniques?