Relaxation For Health_Yoga Nidra
If I were to tell you relaxation was work, you'd be laughing, right!
Ideals of relaxation include
- laying on a sun lounge by the pool or under a palm tree
- headset with your favorite music cd.
- no-one to bother you, no nagging or annoying, no noise.
- nice walk on the beach, in the hills, through a forest.
- sitting by the fire, hot chocolate, nice restful space and dreamy thoughts.
- reading a book and diving into a dream world that takes you out of your own.
All great contenders for the ideal superior quest for a state of relaxation. Is it enough? For some it is, for most it is not. Have you achieved anything other than an hour or two of relief? You're back in your normal world and subject to the same grind that makes you yearn for relaxation again.
When relaxing most people stay in the mind, they use it to go off to some far away Utopia that gives a blissful pleasure. A wonderful and relaxing experience. Some will come back and wish they didn't have to return. Others feel revived, refreshed and ready for another onslaught in the world of action and experience.
The use of consciousness in relaxation.
You will have heard the term Awareness. It's used a lot in Spiritual teachings with good reason. Most of our lives are spent using the senses. The senses are the means by which we cognize and respond to our external environment - for good and bad. Most of our time is spent externalized and focused on what to respond to. Rarely are we focused on ourselves, our body or our feelings. Even when we are lying on our sunbed by the pool, we are focused outside. Although you may see yourself in an oasis with a pineapple drink and your ideal lover beside you, you are still pulled out beyond yourself and not actually feeling you as you are now, in this minute. You like the feeling of what it would be like to drink cocktails with your lover in some romantic setting.
How about trying the real thing. What about staying glued to yourself for awhile and checking out the state of your own actual universe. To do this requires the use of consciousness. Putting consciousness into yourself. Awareness of you. There is a technique available to do this. Called Yoga Nidra, it's practice is usually reserved for just before you go to sleep, but can be used at any time during the day, even on that sun lounge. This technique requires putting consciousness into your own body parts. Only by doing this can you actually release tension inside yourself.
We hold many layers of stress in our bodies. Be observant next time you go for coffee. Watch people walk around. Can you find the relaxed ones? The rigid walker will do the same while vertical as horizontal. Lay him on a sun lounge and he will have no idea how to relax. Cardboard man is a good name for he who is stiff, stressed and in need of a good 200 hour massage! Massages are good, they will help the process of relaxation markedly.
So how to do yoga nidra. A tape would help here, something to guide you through the process of consciousness and remaining awake while you do this. Lie down on your back. Take off your watch and belt if you have them on. Become aware of your body. All of it. Be aware of any twinges, pulls, aches and pains. Adjust yourself to get as comfortable as you can. Try not to judge those aches and pains. It is those pains that need the most attention. So the process is to methodically put awareness on body parts. The top of the head, the left ear, right ear, left eye, right eye, nose, mouth, tongue, chin, neck, left shoulder, left elbow, left wrist, hand, fingers. Then right shoulder, right elbow, wrist, hand, fingers. Back to the neck, to the chest, stomach, belly, left hip, left thigh, left knee, shin, left ankle, foot and toes. To the right hip, thigh, knee, shin, ankle, foot and toes. To the bottom of the spine, go up the spine slowly, to the back of the neck, back of the head and then top of the head.
Repeat the process. When becoming aware of each part, silently acknowledge each part and consciously feel each part. In the beginning, it pays to clench slightly and release so that you 'get into' the part. As you release you will feel the tension release, thereby becoming more relaxed. Hence superior relaxation. The work is the consciousness you put into the practice.
You will also have heard there are layers to the onion, meaning just when you think you have relaxed enough, there is more. Each twinge, pull or ache needs attention. As you put awareness into yourself, it is common that pain can increase. The release of it comes in the awareness of it. Think of the pain as a clamped bit of tension inside your body. The more consciousness you have of the ache, the easier it is to release. The mind is good at ignoring pain or taking an aspirin at this point. Persevere as much as you can at breathing into it and releasing.
Of course, if the pain is too much, move a bit. Use cushions under your knees if you need to. There is no point being heroic in this practice otherwise you will not enjoy it and it will be more of a chore to make yourself do it. In fact, you will probably stop doing it altogether. But it is perhaps the exact thing you are needing to do. The feeling you want to aspire for in this practice is the floating effect. Then the state of not being able to feel your body means you have reached excellence. No aches and pains, no twinges or pulls.
If you do this practice during the day, at the end of the practice sit up straight and make sure you become alert before moving to do anything. You may feel a little sleepy after doing yoga nidra, that is normal. It doesn't pay to walk around in that state or get into your car and drive while you are not back fully into an alert attentive mind.
Doing this practice of Yoga Nidra, or Superior Relaxation which is what I like to call it, has several benefits. You become more aware of your own self, your own body, you actually start to feel more inside yourself. Secondly, it gives a superior rest to you during the day. By giving yourself 30 to 45 minutes of deep relaxation, your body has the opportunity to keep up with the grind. Just like fine-tuning your car, it's a way to help your body rejuvenate during the day. This is a good practice for anyone, including the fit and healthy. Doing this practice before sleep will put you into a good state for a very restful night. In some cases, it has been known to help insomnia.
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