Yoga nidra, or the yoga of waking sleep, consists of a complex series of exercises designed to induce the sophronic state. Caycedo developed the technique while studying with some of the greatest yoga masters in India at the time. Which exercises are used depends on the subject. Some, like focussing your awareness on each body part, are extremely pleasurable.
When we are in an active, waking state, our awareness or consciousness is focussed outward, on external stimuli and perceptions. We perceive little of what is going on inside our body, although bodily functions are accompanied by a host of sounds and other sensations. These interior stimuli are generally filtered out by our cerebral cortex.
Yoga nidra helps people tune in to their own body. Here is an example of a yoga nidra exercise, based on an excerpt from Dennis Boyes' excellent work,
'The Yoga Of Waking Sleep:'
Focus your attention on your forehead.
Now shift your attention down slightly, to your right eye.
Concentrate on your right eye.
Feel the spherical shape of your eyeball.
Try to feel your whole eye, gently, completely, without letting any mental images or thoughts get in the way.
Now concentrate on your left eye.
(Instructions are repeated)
Now shift your focus to your right cheek.
Feel it, feel it deeply.
You are completely present, completely focussed.
(Repeat with the left cheek)
Now shift your awareness to your right ear.
Feel the flesh of your outer ear.
Now guide your attention inside your ear.
Concentrate on your inner ear, on the auditory canal.
All bodily parts, as well as other sensations like blood pulsing through the veins, cellular vibrations, the feeling of clothes in contact with the skin, and so on, are explored in this way.
Subjects who are willing to make the effort can attain the desired state of 'disconnectedness' by concentrating on almost any sensation, whether it be a sound, an image, an odor or an object. You can practice while taking the sun, relaxing in a hammock, steaming in a sauna, or sitting in your favorite easy chair. Just tune in to your inner sensations and let yourself go. You will soon feel yourself floating away in a very pleasant bubble of physical and mental relaxation.
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