Staying Awake Mentally While Physically Asleep (3/6 – Stephanie Chua)

Does it make sense to you? Because it sure does not make any sense to me. This is apparently the concept of Yoga Nidra that was introduced to us during one of the YTT sessions for better sleep. At first, we were like “Wait, what?” Totally doesn’t make sense. So Yoga Nidra, also known as yogic sleep (according to Wikipedia), it is a meditation and conscious relaxation practice that is intended to induce complete physical, mental and emotional relaxation. But wait, isn’t that sleeping then? Sure sounds like it however after doing some reading up online on the difference between Yoga Nidra and Sleep, what I found was when you are asleep your conscious mind is dormant and it is not working while your subconscious mind take over. The subconscious mind does not leave behind the pressures you might have faced during the day. Yoga Nidra on the other hand, completely relaxes you and heals you.

How does it do that? Here’s a list of benefits.

Benefits of Yoga Nidra
• Improves sleep quality
• Decreases anxiety
• Alleviates stress
• Reduces post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and chronic pain
• Transforms negative habit, thinking and behaviours into something positive.
• Improves blood circulation
• Strengthens immune system
• Normalizes blood pressure and sugar levels
• Calms the mind
• Engender a profound sense of joy and well-being

Sounds great, isn’t it? We were also taught about how Yoga Nidra is done.

Steps to Yoga Nidra
• Physical Preparation
• Breath Preparation
• Physical Relaxation
• Mental Relaxation
• Spiritual Relaxation
• Coming out of Nidra

After which we experienced Yoga Nidra. I must admit the experience was somewhat surreal. I recalled lying Shavasana position and listening to the instructor. We relaxed every part of our body, starting from the feet all the way to our facial muscles. Basically we had to completely let go. Then the audio said to focus on one particular sound. So I focused on the ocean waves in the audio. I heard a classmate snore, my body was completely relaxed but somehow I was aware that someone was walking to the toilet, then I felt like I was asleep. Suddenly, a part of my body will jerk. My mind will be awake and alert again, making me aware that I was falling asleep with my mouth open, so I gently closed it, heard the snoring, making sure it wasn’t me before I realized it was still my classmate. It was just the sensation of sleep except my mind kept drifting between being unconscious to conscious. I must admit, it was a nice yet surreal experience and I definitely would not mind going through it again.