Yoga Nidra and Shavasana

by Sharon Gannon |
December, 2008
Yoga Nidra and Shavasana
Yoga Nidra is a state of complete bodily relaxation, in which the mind rests in a suspended state awake, yet calm, and free of all distraction. The body, senses and material mind are magnetized.
Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati

Through deep relaxation, a state of Yoga Nidra arises, which can lead to kaivalyam, or samadhi, in which the sense of individualization merges with absolute, transcendental joy. The practice of shavasana (corpse pose) can facilitate the arising of this state. But for success in shavasana, you have to understand, as Shri Brahmananda suggests, “how to use fixation, suggestion and sensation, and how to use the proper pause for time.”

The following is a guided relaxation to be used in the practice of shavasana; it is meant to be spoken out loud by a teacher to students after they have assumed a lying-down position:

“You are about to embark upon a wonderful adventure, a journey into the experience of deep relaxation. To relax means to become receptive; receptive to your own inner happiness and peace, your true nature, that which is boundless, limitless joy, that which is the very core of every being. To relax allows you to let go of everything that may be holding you back from the experience of the truth of your very being.

“Start by taking your consciousness to your feet. Silently suggest: Toes, relax. Feet, relax. Ankles, relax. Let go. Calves and shins, relax. Let go. Knees, relax. Thighs, relax. Release the large muscles of the thighs. Allow them to let go of their grip on the thighbones. Relax. Let go. Allow the bones of the legs to rest in the softened tissues of the relaxed muscles. Relax hips and buttocks. Release all clenching, all gripping there. Release all tension from the pelvic area. Let go. Let go. Lower back, relax. Middle back, relax. Upper back, relax. Allow the muscles of the back to spread and melt into the floor, spreading warmth outward from the spine. Release into the floor. Let go. Allow the floor to lift up under you, to support you. Trust it beneath your body. Melt into it. Release into the floor, into the earth. Drop all your tension, anxieties, restlessness, and resistance into the floor, into the earth. Relax your abdomen and chest. Release. Soften. Soften. Fingers and hands, relax. Let go of all gripping and clenching there. No need now to hold on to anything. Everything is yours. Let go. Let go of it all, and receive everything. Relax your wrists, forearms, elbows, upper arms. Let the muscles melt away from the bones. Let the bones rest in the soft tissue of the relaxed muscles. Relax your shoulders. Allow the shoulder blades to drop into the floor. Release and soften all neck and throat muscles, allowing them to relax. Relax your face, the mask of your personality. Release your jaw. Relax your tongue. Allow your tongue to float inside your mouth. Lips, cheeks, let go. Nose, eyes, inside the nose, and behind the eyes, let go. Let go. Let go. Eyelids, eyebrows, forehead, relax. Release all tension between the eyebrows. Allow the forehead to broaden. Relax the scalp and the back of the head. Let your hair grow. The more you can melt heavily into the floor, into the earth, the lighter you will begin to feel. Allow yourself to feel light.

“Go now, deep inside. Relax the internal organs, the organs of elimination. Relax the organs of sexuality. Relax the organs of digestion. Relax the organs of blood circulation. Relax the organs of respiration. Release the sense of feeling and of thinking. Allow the frontal part of your brain to slip back into the skull. Let go. Let go.

“Your whole body now, inside and outside, is relaxing deeply. Great healing and rebalancing is taking place now. Don’t interfere. Allow a complete letting go into inner wisdom, and peace. Let your body relax, and take your consciousness to the site of your spiritual heart, the lotus of the heart at the center of your chest. Enter into this lotus. Feel yourself inside the lotus of the heart, which is the source of all creative things. The source of love itself; unconditional, boundless, limitless joy — bliss, ananda. Feel the petals of the lotus surrounding you with their soft fragrance. Allow yourself to become this lotus of the heart, to become the source of all creative things, to become love itself; beyond name and form, beyond pleasure and pain, beyond night, and beyond day. Become boundless, limitless joy. Fall into love itself. This is who you are. Become who you are. Relax all resistance to who you are. Relax all resistance to boundless, limitless joy. You … you …. you are love itself, happiness itself. Shantih, shantih, shantih.