Yoga Nidra is an experience of expanded awareness in a state of deep relaxation, promoting parasympathetic dominance, calming the physical body, mind, brain, senses, and nervous system. There are different yogic practices that lead to the state of yoga nidra. Most commonly in the west, yoga nidra is experienced lying down in savasana with guided verbal instructions that occupy the mind through rotation of consciousness and visualizations - and may include breath awareness and awareness of sensations and feelings. As the body relaxes, remaining a witness, awake and aware, we move into this subtle state of deep conscious sleep (the state between wakefulness and sleep). With pratyahara (sense withdrawal), we work through levels of the unconscious and subconscious, removing energetic blockages which can be in the form of trauma, stress, health issues, physical and emotional disturbances. This experience is a powerful way to set our intention and plant it’s seeds with our Sankalpa (Resolve, Resolution, Force of Will) which is established during yoga nidra. When our mind is calm and quiet during yoga nidra it is more receptive and sensitive to our intentions as they are impressed on the subconscious mind.
A beginner may use yoga nidra therapeutically. Although with regular practice (and practicing alone without needing a script to follow) yoga nidra brings us to higher states of yoga. Traditionally, yoga nidra belongs to the higher stages of raja yoga.
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