Relaxation after a yoga class releases any physical tension, makes concentration easier, stills the mind and helps to channel energy in a creative way.
Beyond mere relaxation is a technique called Yoga Nidra. Yoga meaning ‘Union’, Nidra meaning ‘Sleep’.
It is a powerful technique which enables us to relax consciously. We mostly assume we are relaxing when collapsing in an easy chair with a drink, reading, listening to music or watching TV. But these are only sensory diversions. True relaxation is an experience far beyond all this.
The practice of yoga nidra extends the transitional state between waking and sleeping known as the Hypnagogic State. This state normally lasts for 3-5 minutes with gradual deep relaxation and decrease in sensory awareness. It is recognized by the presence of alpha brain waves and is the state where intuitive ideas and inspiring imagery occurs before dreaming and deep sleep.
It is the source of many artistic and scientific breakthroughs. Many scientists, artists, writers and inventors including Einstein, Goethe, Salvador Dali and Kekule all utilized this layer of consciousness in their work. Here the real self is accessed behind the restless mind.
The stages of yoga nidra include muscle relaxation, sensory withdrawal, focus on internal rather than external awareness, visualization, imagery and autosuggestion in the form of a personal resolve. The resolve is made with feeling into the subconscious mind by the practitioner himself when the mind is quiet and calm. It is not made by the instructor who is only a guide. During yoga nidra the mind is in a very receptive state. When relaxation is deep and the mind more withdrawn you are neither in a state of deep sleep nor completely awake. Whatever impressions enter the mind during this time will become powerful.
Memory can be developed in this way, the relaxation of mental tensions, concentration, determination, knowledge and creativity.
For further reading: Yoga Nidra, Swami Satyananda Saraswati
“ Each must discover his own way in life, and that way lies in his heart. Let him delve deeply into the depths of his being; his true centre is not far from there. ” N. Sri Ram