The current COVID-19 pandemic has caused increased fear, panic, insecurity, anxiety and stress among people around the world. Due to the officially prescribed measures, there has been even greater distance between humans, so these problems have become even more emphasized.
In such a situation, we can say that yoga is extremely important for people, in order to maintain physical, mental and social health, and to continue with our most important task – spiritual progress. With this series of short and simple tips, we present yoga exercises and techniques that help us overcome the current situation and help those who suffer from post-Covid symptoms.
Lack of sleep, anxiety, poor diet, lack of movement, sadness, fear, insecurity, all these factors weaken immunity and reduce quality of life. Considering these problems, we will suggest ways to be a healthier, happier and more fulfilled person through yoga and how to get in touch with ourselves again, with our Self.
Yoga Nidra has a beneficial effect on these problems associated with social distancing during a global pandemic – including lack of sleep, anxiety, poor diet, lack of movement, sadness, fear, insecurity.
Yoga Nidra, or conscious sleep, complete relaxation, has nothing to do with hypnosis or self-hypnosis. It is a technique in which we remain fully aware and everyone can practise it, from children to seniors; it can easily be incorporated into daily life and it is familiar to all of us.
Remember those times when you lay down in the afternoon and in just a few minutes managed to relax deeply, so you felt like you were sleeping for hours. This is the basis of the first stage of this technique – to be able to completely relax in a few minutes and eliminate muscle tension caused by stress.
Stress is the most common cause of weakening the immune system, which is extremely important to us during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sometimes, when we lie down in bed, we feel like our whole body is trembling, pulsing in the rhythm of the heart. It is tension caused by stress. When we enter a deep state of relaxation, it disappears instantly.
Yoga Nidra is a yogic way of sleeping in which we voluntarily (consciously) switch from the very active sympathetic state (fight-flight reaction) and enter to a parasympathetic state (digestive and relaxation reaction). Yoga Nidra provides deep relaxation for the whole body, calms the flow of thoughts, balances our emotions and thus eliminates a number of psychosomatic diseases.
- Lie on your back (anandasan) with legs and arms slightly apart, palms facing the ceiling, so the chest is open and you are able to breathe more fully. You can cover yourself to keep the body warm.
- Once or twice, inhale a little deeper and exhale slowly (through your nose), feel how the tension leaves your body. Feel the weight of your body, the contact of the body with the ground.
- Slowly in your mind (without moving the body), feel your whole body from the toes to the top of the head and from the top of the head to the toes. This is a purely mental exercise and there is no need for physical movements. As you go through your body, mentally relax part by part. Try to feel how every part of your body becomes relaxed and light.
- When you have relaxed your whole body, focus your attention on your breathing. Just be aware of inhaling and exhaling, try to feel how your abdomen increases in size when you inhale and decreases with exhalation. Do not change the rhythm of your breathing. This awareness and relaxation of the body, awareness of breath and 'abdominal breathing' (diaphragmatic breathing) calms the nervous system, balances the left and right brain hemispheres, calms emotions and leads to the elimination of stress and insomnia.
- Observe your breath for a few minutes, the harmony of your breath and body, the expansion and contraction of the body. Feel how the tension leaves your body with each exhalation, and how fresh energy (prana) fills your body with the inhalation.
- At the beginning and at the end of Yoga Nidra you can repeat a sankalpa – your resolve, decision, desire or goal – that should be positive, short and completely understandable, expressed in the present tense. Once you have formulated your sankapla, recite it three times mentally and be sure that it will come true. In this way, we can eliminate bad habits, accept good habits and improve our health.
- After about fifteen minutes, again slowly become aware of the whole body. Be aware of the position of your body and that you are not sleeping but practising Yoga Nidra. Inhale and exhale a few times a little deeper, slowly move your fingers and toes. Then, with the inhalation, reach your arms back and over, above your head and stretch the whole body, and with the exhalation relax and return the arms by the sides.
- Rub your palms and place the warm hands on your eyes, warming your face and then slowly open your eyes. This completes the Yoga Nidra. Sit up slowly.
Practising 30 to 45 minutes of Yoga Nidra can have the value of many hours of sleep.
This is just a small part of the Yoga Nidra technique from Yoga in Daily Life – The System that can bring you great benefits. We know that many solutions to scientific problems and artistic inspiration can come from this state of mind: between sleep and wakeful awareness. The state between unconscious, subconscious and conscious, is the state of the first part of the Yoga Nidra practice.
Give yourself this technique fifteen minutes a day and you will experience the benefits of Yoga Nidra. Better physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health, better memory, creativity and problem-solving. By doing so, we will deal better with the problems that life brings us, and we will strengthen the immunity that will protect us from Covid-19 and other illnesses.
Recorded session: Yoga Nidra | Yoga in Daily Life | Spotify led by Vishawaguruji Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda, founder of Yoga in Daily Life.
Article written by Mahamandaleshwar Swami Vivek Puri, senior Yoga in Daily Life teacher and long term student of Vishwaguruji.