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A daily dose of yoga nidra can transform you

By Rachel Long (Muktakiran)

Let me share a little story.

The year was 1999, and I had been attending yoga classes regularly for a few years.

I had come to realise that yoga asana had an incredible power to restore balance to my body and mind.

After a yoga class I was more relaxed and much less anxious. I felt positively different; people told me I looked different. Some sort of transformation seemed to be occurring.


Naturally strong and flexible, I naively thought that by attending advanced asana classes (where the atmosphere was a little like a yoga olympics) I was therefore an advanced yoga student.  I was soon to learn how very little I knew about myself or ‘advanced yoga’.


One day after attending an advanced asana class I went home and was greeted by a hefty speeding fine which had arrived in the mail. At that time in my life, I was an apprentice chef on meagre wages, and was overwhelmed by what seemed like an exorbitant amount for a speeding ticket. 


Despite having just left a yoga class feeling relaxed and grounded, I lost my calm outlook and I’m pretty sure what I did next was nothing short of a tantrum. Having no witnessing consciousness of my own in that moment, my dear mother was there to witness my tantrum instead!


Even today I can hear her words clearly,

“Look at you. Doing all this yoga, and you’re still carrying on like a child. Nothing’s changed.”


Thanks, Ma, for crystallising the moment!


I knew she was right. The positive change I had experienced so far with yoga was superficial. I had only just scratched the surface. The metamorphosis I thought was occurring in that moment felt completely elusive. 

I had to admit the yoga I was doing and its relaxation effect was only skin deep. It had not accessed the deeper layers of my mind. 


Yoga teaches us that the subconscious and unconscious minds are the storehouse of all our memories, our experiences, and also our tension.   And it is the hidden, repressed tensions in the mind, which cause the neurosis in the personality, and the idiosyncratic behaviours and feelings we can’t give reason to.


My explosive and out of proportion reaction to the speeding fine was because my subconscious mind was riddled with suppressed tension.  


With my mother’s word punctuating the truth, I knew I needed to find a teacher or a path, which could take me beyond the physical.


As is the way of life, a month or so later I found myself at Mangrove Yoga Ashram for an Easter weekend retreat, learning for the first time that yoga was so much more than just stretching. Without a flicker of doubt, I knew I had found what I was looking for. 


A year later, I returned to the ashram to immerse myself in the teachings and lifestyle of yoga.


The years spent living at the ashram had a transformative effect upon every layer of my being.  For that transformation to occur there was a cleaning-out process of deep-seated physical, mental and emotional tensions.


This clean-out happened through a slow and steady synthesis of practices which included karma yoga, hatha yoga, shatkarmas, mantra, meditation and perhaps most importantly daily yoga nidra.


Daily yoga nidra allows one to let go, without any effort, of the tensions, the memories and past experiences that are being held prisoner within the subconscious and unconscious mind. And, as a result, something quite magical occurs.


This letting go frees the mind and makes it possible for the nature of the mind to be reprogrammed.


The beauty of this whole process via yoga nidra is that it is so easy. There is no struggle or inner conflict. And along the way you benefit from the relaxation and rejuvenative effects. You achieve your goals with the use of sankalpa


The most important benefit of yoga nidra, though, is the letting go of tension. Because it is this that as one teacher describes below, is the secret to transformation.


“What is the secret of this transformation? Sermons? No. Admonitions? No. 

Release of tension, relaxation and peace of mind are the secret of transformation. 

When a man is under tension, his behaviour is influenced, and when he relaxes, he becomes natural.

He knows the reality, the truth. Then he knows how to behave, because the knowledge of truth is necessary for right behaviour.

And knowledge of truth only comes when you are free of tension.“

Swami Satyananda - Yoga Nidra

To discover more on how Yoga Nidra works join Rachel for a four night intensive Yoga Nidra and Developing a Sankalpa starting 4-7 January 2016.

About Rachel Long (Muktakiran)

Rachel has been teaching yoga and meditation for over 10 years. She likes swimming, lying in the sun, pumping iron at the gym, hanging with her nephew, studying psychology, and downloading an endless stream of reading material onto her Kindle.