For centuries, yoga has been used by millions of people as a way to improve mindfulness and get some rest. The latter is actually the reason why this practice is getting more and more popular. The fact is that a huge number of 21st-century people are chronically tired. Whether it’s stress or something else that’s causing it, the fact is that millions of people are struggling to get enough sleep. The good news is that there might be a solution to this problem. It’s called Divine Sleep® Yoga Nidra! It has been said that 20 minutes of Yoga Nidra is equated with 3 hours of sleep.
This program is the brainchild of Jennifer Reis and is quickly becoming one of the most popular types of yoga Nidra meditation. This method promotes complete physical and mental relaxation while the practitioner is guided through all levels of being. Each session takes from 5 minutes to 45 minutes to complete and involves eight different stages.
Practitioners start by getting comfortable and letting their bodies sink into the floor. It is recommended to move and shift a little as the body slowly settles into the ground. As the body starts to relax, the mind must focus solely on the present moment and listen to its body.
While being guided through this exercise by a teacher, it not uncommon to flow in and out of conscious thought. There is no reason to worry if and when that happens because it is a sign that the mind is ready to enter a state of deep meditation. This state of mind comes naturally as the exercise progresses and shouldn’t be forced.
The exercise should also take place in a safe and protected environment free of any forms of distraction. The goal of this first stage is to promote stillness into the body and allow the muscles to relax. As the whole body starts to become heavy, the focus should shift to the smooth and natural breath.
Sankalpa is defined as an intention created by the heart and mind and represents the will and focus of the practitioner. As part of Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra, the Sankalpa should be formulated as a positive statement and spoken as though it is already happening. The practitioner says the Sankalpa three times in a soft and gentle voice before proceeding to the next stage.
The third stage of Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra is the lengthiest and focuses on complete awareness of one’s body. You are led to feel each body part from head to toe without needing to move or change anything.
As the students lie down in place without moving, the teacher guides them on a journey of awareness and self-discovery throughout the whole body. This journey begins at the mouth and gradually continues towards the nose, cheeks, eyes, ears, forehand, and everywhere else on the face.
Just as the name of this stage indicates, the purpose is to perform of a full body scan and become aware of each and every one of its many components. This is done is a very deliberate and gradual manner as the students start to feel every part of their face as pure energy. It is not necessary to try and move each face muscle individually in order to achieve this. Instead, practitioners should simply focus and become aware of each component before finally focusing on the entire face and then on the head as a whole.
The journey of awareness then continues down the neck and into the shoulders and arms. Students should continue to bring awareness to each individual body part in these areas before moving on to the elbows, forearms, and hands. Here, it is important to take the time to notice each forearm, palm, and wrist, as well as each individual finger as they start pulsating with energy. Once students have meditated on each of these body parts, they should start feeling a wave of energy that starts at the head and flows down the neck and shoulders into the arms and hands all to way to the tip of the fingers.
Practitioners should remain focused and continue their journey of awareness towards the chest and back areas. Again, it is important to become aware of each individual body part in a gradual manner. As such, students should start with the upper torso before moving on to the abdomen, pelvis, and hips. Once energy flows through the entire torso, the focus can be shifted towards each thigh, knee and down towards the rest of the legs and into the feet.
Now that the whole body is flowing with energy, students should bring awareness to their root. This can be imagined as a vertical flow of energy that starts at the base of the spine and goes all the way up to the crown of the head. Along the way, the flow passes and activates a number of energy centers such as the navel center, solar plexus, heart, throat, mouth, and the third eye.
The body is now grounded and resting peacefully, which means that practitioners can start bringing awareness to the whole back body and then the whole front body. The focus should next shift towards the entire right side of the body as it fills with sensation before doing the same for the left side. Students can now become fully aware of their whole body and feel how it is flowing with energy all the way through.
Breath and Prana Awareness
Once the journey of awareness has come to an end it is time to focus on the breath. The goal is not to control the breath in a certain way but rather just to observe it and its natural rhythm. While simply noticing each inhale and each exahale, students can imagine waves of energy passing through their body. Each exhale brings with it a wave that carries away tensions and fears while each inhale creates a fresh wave that brings calm and serenity.
Three More StagesThere are 3 more stages before repeating the Sankalpa. Each varies with each journey. It involves feeling whole body sensations, awareness of positive feelings, and also a multi-sensorial journey outdoors through natural landscapes.
With the body and mind now enjoying a state a peace and balance, it is time to repeat the Sankalpa created during the second stage of the exercise. Once again, the Sankalpa should be spoken three times as the present truth.