• Ashwini Shannikodi

Yoga Nidra A Radical Rest

Updated: Sep 28, 2020

Post-Yoga Teachers Training Self- reflection




Yoga Nidra is a powerful practice that promotes self-awareness and deep relaxation. It is a systemic form of guided meditation based on self-inquiry. As a student of yoga, I have come across and practised Yoga Nidra under different teachers. However, I had a vague understanding of this practice before I went for the Teachers Training. I completed the Yoga Nidra course 10 months ago from the Bihar School of Yoga Tradition. As a student of yoga, I use this practice in my personal healing to recover from sensory overload, pain relief from chronic pain and to strengthen my life purpose. I also believe that Yoga Nidra is a conscious radical rest we are taking in our healing journey, allowing us to be in presence with our true nature.

Patanjali Yoga Sutra describes 8 Limbs of Yoga. They are Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. Pratyahara is 5th limb and very significant stage in the yogic journey towards the path of liberation or self- realisation as it’s a bridge between the outer and inner world. Pratyahara means withdrawal of senses. We use our senses (sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch) to perceive the world around us. Our brain is in constant movement; thinking, processing external stimuli and perception of life; our reality is defined by what our senses have captured from the world. The aim of Yoga Nidra is to consciously take a break from using senses and detach ourselves from external auditory and visual stimulation that have a reflection in our inner or mental world. In practice, we observe the world around us with a witnessing attitude, which is free from the conditionings and influences of the external, sensory world. This yogic practise aids in creating awareness about the senses and the impact of the subconscious mind on our reality. Therefore, it is an essential practice for more in-depth meditative experiences.


In this practice, the focus is on our breath; all sensory organs take a backseat; this creates a space for the inner voice to reconnect with the source - true self; non-physical- infinite realities for our existence. Regular practice of sitting in silence; withdrawing the senses and moving inwards to for finding answers for life questions have changed my direction of life. Yoga Nidra practice has further enhanced this change in understandings, different patterns that manifested in life. Yoga Nidra has provided an opportunity to sit in silence and flow inside, allowing to explore self and acknowledging the patterns behaviours on and off the mat and allowing to bring change in life. Through years of self- inquiry and self- awareness was able to identify trigger points for migraine, found the remedy. However, it was not an easy path from childhood to 20s to live with migraine. In the process to recover from it, I have done so many things; one of it was turning towards yoga and spirituality. Firstly, I stopped medication; instead of feeding, I embraced pain with migraine. Slowly, made changes to lifestyle and developed a routine that has helped in taking back my life.

From the past few years, I have been experiencing chronic pain with all symptoms of fibromyalgia. Although I told myself repeatedly that I accepted this condition, however, in my core, I know that I was fighting, running away from the experience of pain. I still remember the last day of my course, I was exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally and had no energy. That was starting of fibromyalgia flare-up and took a few days to recover. From that experience realised, Yoga Nidra not only about relaxation its also a journey towards healing, to explore and to understand about self. Yoga Nidra and Self- reflections have made me more receptive; started noticing the patterns through which fibromyalgia flare-up in the body.


Pain and sufferings are constant in nature. When we live with any kind it could be physical, emotional or psychological in nature; we habituated to distance ourself from the body, mind by distracting ourselves as its very painful to stay in connection with the body that hurts, aches all time. Automatically we are not attentive to breathing or present in the moment.


While in Yoga Nidra, I am awake, aware of body-mind breathing from an observer perspective. I have started taking this awareness off the mat into everyday life. Approaching this life with mindfulness. Noticed that when I stopped fighting; connected with the body and acknowledged muscles that are burning, experiencing numbness, stabbing pains, spasms and practice conscious breathing with deeper exhalations; my symptoms are less intensive. To staying out—of flare-up is to be present with pain. Through, the practice of yoga, pranayama and pratyahara I have come to accept chronic pain, brain fog, and fatigue; as well acknowledge the centre of experience with pain, instead of trying to escape, have made peace with pain.


We look for swift solutions for symptoms of illnesses, it keeps repeating, we get conditioning (Samskara). Longer we stay with physical or mental illness deeply they get rooted. We get attached due to holding on to symptoms of illness, we forget what is normal to be in life. It is very addictive; I have been there and experienced it. It starts gradually; life feels like blank and white and fun or self-nurturing activities become daunting tasks. Many resist to be healed, there is a fear of healing!! Accepting the reality of illness and finding two fragmented part of the self (ego) and embracing them equally (I am feeling ok, I am not feeling ok) is when journey towards healing begins.


My lived experiences have had its impact; to recover from emotional, mental (depression and anxiety shattered chance of academic career) and physical (fibromyalgia) conditioning that has manifested in life. I had embraced the natural rhythm of movement, breathing, yoga Nidra and mindful activities to thrive and provided the foundation for designing my life. The combination framework of pranayama, yoga, pratyahara and spirituality with a therapeutic approach is for self-discovery. It rewires limiting and disempowered thoughts, alter the critical voice, personal expression of social power through self –realisation, boosting self –confidence, healing and bringing transformation in life.


In conclusion, what I can say is that Yoga, Pranayama and Yoga Nidra have given me a chance to lead a wholeness life with authenticity and true to self. Life is a journey, not to think about the destination what truly matters is to enjoy the process as there are thousands of possibilities while we are still in this journey.

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