The powerful benefits of Yoga Nidra - a wonderfully effective deep relaxation technique for healing anxiety and panic - include releasing tension and improving overall health. It is indispensable for settling anxiety problems.
When you are worn out with feeling fearful and anxious all day, the body and mind crave the experience of some rest and a little peace. Yoga nidra can provide this. It can begin to teach your nervous system that it’s OK to relax now, the emergency is over. Bit by bit, you start to release all that accumulated tension that lies beneath anxiety states. During the practice you will experience a little bit of respite from your symptoms. Over time, with regular practise, especially following the other tips on this site, your anxiety symptoms will start to fade away, eventually becoming nothing more than an unpleasant memory.
For anyone whose mind and body are just too busy and unsettled to get any really deep rest from meditating alone, yoga nidra is particularly invaluable.
Especially in the very acute stages of anxiety and panic, more than anything your body needs to learn how to release tension, learn how it feels to let go and to know that this is safe. This practice can provide you with that experience.
There is still great benefit from meditating, even when you are very unsettled, because of the practice you get at monitoring your thoughts and learning to let them go by coming back to your meditation. This is an essential skill to learn in order to overcome anxiety and panic completely. But yoga nidra can help you learn to settle into meditation more easily.
It is a technique that systematically induces physical, mental and emotional relaxation, based on ancient yogic wisdom. It is different from most relaxation methods in than it involves a specific and effortless rotation of consciousness through the different parts of the body together with breathing and visualisation. This brings your awareness inside naturally, without concentration. To get maximum benefit, it's best to find authentic versions based on the style originated by Swami Satyananda - the founder of the technique in modern times.
In the full version of yoga nidra, a personal resolve (or 'sankalpa' in sanskrit) is introduced towards the beginning of the practice and again towards the end. This is a short, positive statement, or affirmation, to increase some personal quality in your life, for example: 'I am becoming deeply calm and at peace'.
At some point, perhaps only for a second or two initially, you reach a point of awareness and stillness between wakefulness and sleep. This is a deeply restful and pleasant experience. It is this state that is Yoga Nidra - which means "sleep with a trace of awareness".
Often, of course, especially at first when you have masses of accumulated tension, stress and fatigue, you may fall asleep instead, and that is perfectly OK. It is the ideal way to help deal with insomnia and improve your sleep. You gain the most benefit though, if you are able to stay awake throughout. It is said that an hour of Yoga Nidra is the equivalent of 4 hours normal sleep.
No effort is required, you simply listen to the instructions and the mind follows them more or less automatically, whilst lying down. It's also possible to practice in a comfortable chair.
The easiest way to practice is by listening to a recording - anxiety unravelled.com now has the first of its own Yoga Nidra mp3's available. This is a full version, including breathing awareness, rotation of consciousness throughout the body, personal resolve and visualisation.
$6.95 - 28 mins
If you can, do a 25-30 minute practice everyday, but shorter ones will still be very valuable and certainly better than nothing at all. (Shorter versions will become available on anxiety unravelled.com in the months to come.)
As you recover you will continue to receive more and more of the health benefits of this simple practice and you will come to look forward to your daily experience of deep relaxation.