For eliminating stress we have the practice of relaxation which releases strain from the whole psyche. There are many and various methods used in teaching relaxation but in Yoga, traditional preparation for practising what is known as Yoga Nidra remains constant as discipline required for us all throughout life. It is sometimes referred to as ‘the Yogi’s sleep’ but in fact we remain conscious throughout.
We first assume the body position or asana called Savasana by lying flat on the floor along the north/south polarity if possible, arms down by the sides with eyes closed. A passive peaceful body is required as a prelude to passive, peaceful states of mind in the stillness of meditation.
Stillness of the body in Yoga Nidra is designed to help us become receptive, first to outward sounds and impressions and then free of the distractions of others, to become inwardly aware of our whole being.
It should be a refreshing and pleasant experience – to which we look forward. Various subtle states of consciousness are rediscovered, sometimes for the first time since our infancy, as we find refreshment in the magical realm between sleeping and waking.
Relaxation rewards us by encouraging a state of freedom, even from our own thoughts, as we enter degrees of consciousness related to feeling awareness. We remain conscious of our surroundings, yet with a sense of acceptance, embracing the fact that although we are just a single life unit, we are able to sense life’s wholeness.
When we are in a relaxation state, we do not feel ourselves as separate from Nature, but as evidenced by our respiration and our life dependence upon the breath, we are in constant rapport with it.
Under the expert guidance of the teacher, we find that experiences in Relaxation increase in quality as we learn to ‘let go’ and to feel a vibrant part of the universal life and energy that surrounds us and learn to just be.
Relaxation is the state of non-action, of not doing anything. One ‘lets go’ and makes no effort in any way. Even breathing rhythm is rhythmic, easy and without strain. In this state we yield to allow Nature to energize the body and direct all physiological functions of organs and glands as it does every day for us with our heart beat, digestion and other subconscious processes. So as we ‘let go’ and release ourselves from the conscious controls we learn that we can trust great Nature, as we do when we go to sleep, with confidence that we will reawaken in the morning refreshed.