Yoga nidra (“yoga rest” or “yoga sleep”) is a relaxation technique that has become very popular in last few years. It is used as a way of reducing stress, can help with insomnia, anxiety, migraine etc.
There are different stages in performing yoga nidra, but we will introduce simple techniques that you can practice safely in the privacy of your home and whose primary goal is to help you relax and let go off stress. It takes only 15-20 minutes a day, and you can practice whenever is convenient.
Before you start doing yoga nidra at home, ventilate the room.
The temperature should be around 20°C (68.2° F). Put on some comfortable, loose cloth and prepare a blanket in case you are cold. It is recommended, but not obligatory to wash your teeth, and rinse your face and nose before practicing, as well as practice on an empty or half-full stomach (so you wouldn’t doze off).
Now you are ready to do yoga nidra at home.
- Lay on your back, with legs and arms slightly speeded and palms facing ceiling (yoga practitioners call it “corpse pose”). Stretch your limbs. Close your eyes, relax your jaw, chin and tongue. This is very important because position of tongue shows if you’re really relaxed. The tip of tongue should lightly touch the upper pallet of the teeth.
- Take a few deep breaths. Do not try to relax, just concentrate on your breathing. Notice how your breath is a bit cold when inhaling and warm when exhaling. We will use breathing to warm up and relax our body.
- Now, pay attention to your right foot. Imagine that you have another nose and breathe through your foot. You will notice a warm, tingling sensation, as if touched by feather. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t feel anything for the first few times. The sensation comes with time, when you learn how to keep attention.
- Move your attention and breathe through the tip of your right big toe, tip of the second toe, middle toe, fourth toe and little toe.
- Slowly, move your attention towards your ankle and continue towards right knee and thigh. Continue breathing from hips to the base of your spine.
- Breathe through spine from perineum towards the back side of your neck. Try to concentrate on every vertebra.
- When you reach your neck, direct your breath to right shoulder, and then gradually move it down to fingers. Concentrate on the tip of your right thumb, then tip of index finger, tip of middle finger, tip of ring finger and tip of little finger. Warm up your palm and go back to your neck.
- Inhale and exhale through your neck for a few seconds and then continue towards left shoulder and arm. Do the same thing you did with your right arm.
- Again breathe through your spine from your neck down to the perineum. It helps if you imagine a thin flow of water going through your back.
- Move your attention towards left hip, and down to your left thigh, left knee, ankle, tips of your toes and whole foot and then slowly go back to your throat (as you did with your right leg).
- Now, breathe through your throat. Then, move attention to the tip of your chin, your mouth, tip of your tongue, root of your tongue, tip of your nose, nostrils, cheekbones. After this, focus on your eyeballs, eyebrows and space between your eyebrows (so called “third eye”). Stay there for a few seconds, and then move attention to the top of your head.
- Take a few deep breaths and slowly open your eyes. Shake your hands and stretch your arms and legs. You first yoga nidra practice is over.
Don’t be surprised or frustrated if you fall asleep while doing yoga nidra.
It is normal and it happens to all beginners. Actually, you should be satisfied, because it shows that you’ve managed to relax completely. Later on, as you become more proficient in doing yoga nidra at home, you can start breathing through chakras and use visualization techniques to get even better results.
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