What on earth do they use it for…

Different people's experiences of Yoga Nidra.
Stories from the use of Experience Yoga Nidra

From a female Norwegian boxing champion

As an active athlete and one of Norway's female boxers, I used to have a recurring problem before many matches. I was very nervous and tense during the period just before a fight - several days in fact before a boxing meeting. My body behaved like a battery which had discharged its energy. I was really disappointed to lose fights where I could not do my best simply because I lacked the energy.

I understood that I had to learn to relax, but how? My knowledge of meditation and the positive things it can give a person, wasn't great either. When I received a Yoga Nidra CD from a friend, I realised that I had nothing to lose in trying it.

For a week prior to the next boxing event, I used the CD every day, and I felt that it helped me reduce the tension in my body. Right before I had to box, I lay flat on my back in the dressing room and meditated to Yoga Nidra. My coach thought I had gone crazy, and made a scene because I didn't warm up the way a boxer ought to. I then went up into the prize ring and boxed brilliantly, not only because I had more energy in my body, but also because Yoga Nidra had sharpened my concentration and cleared my head!

Since then, Yoga Nidra has become a permanent companion in my daily life and before boxing tournaments. By the end of 1996, I had become Norwegian champion and received the boxing association's cup for best female boxer. This would have been hard to achieve, had it not been for Yoga Nidra, which taught me to relax and at the same time clear my mind, so it became easier to box in a smarter and more tactical way.

(Anita Bertelsen, Norway)

Yoga Nidra and adverse side effects from medicine

I am schizophrenic and Yoga Nidra helps me greatly.

The drugs I take have numerous and strong side effects. But even after just a short time practicing the long Yoga Nidra, the side effects have practically disappeared altogether.

At the same time, schizophrenia is very much characterised by fear. But each time I use Yoga Nidra, I experience the fear decrease little by little.

(From a person in a hospital in Denmark, whom shall remain anonymous)

The wedding of my younger sister

My younger sister was lying on her bed with earphones, as if dead, "Listening to a relaxation," she said. She had been on a yoga and meditation course.

I was going to set her hair beautifully as it was her wedding day, but now instead, I had to stop doing it and wait for 20 minutes. She seemed to think that taking this time out was natural, and I was expected to accept the break and wait - but I felt the irritation rising. That was not the way to treat me.

The break did us both good however. If she had not put a brake on my enthusiasm with comb, curling brush and spray, a wig would probably have been the only way out. Both she and I had become calmer when she suddenly rose and said that now we could continue.

Her hair style was fine - and she got married.

Seven years later, when I had "burned myself out", the wise doctor I visited told me my workplace probably wouldn't fall apart if I took a stress break. He was right. It was still there when I returned.

I rested and as I had plenty of time, I borrowed some books about being burned out. They all stressed the importance of relaxation to enable the body to get rest and gather new energy. The claim seemed sensible, but how did one go about it? I found it difficult to unwind.

I went on a trial yoga lesson. We were asked to listen to all the sounds around us, without listening to anything in particular. That was fantastic. I heard a lot of things that I normally wouldn't have perceived, although I left with the same set of ears as I had arrived with.

We did some physical exercises. It looked easy but I was very stiff. I got hooked and went to several courses to loosen up.

At one lesson, we listened to a relaxation CD. I bought the CD because I thought it might be good to have. The need to use it proved to be almost daily.

I told my sister about the CD. It turned out that I had been taught by the same yoga teacher as she and now had bought the same CD as she listened to on her wedding day.

Now, I listen to the CD almost every day after work. How insolent of me to just throw myself on the bed and let everyone and everything be for 20 minutes, while I am lying as if dead! It is wonderful. No one in my family has any objections to my habit (some might call it a bad habit) because they see the results.

Now, I do yoga, relaxation and meditation on a regular basis - and I am happy that I am more inquisitive and curious than I am sceptical, so that I tried it - because it helps me.

Try and see! The CD my sister and I listen to is the deep relaxation Yoga Nidra guided by Swami Janakananda from the Scandinavian Yoga and Meditation School.

(Hélén Persson, Sweden)

Yoga Nidra and Sleep

A man who recently took part in one of our courses at Haa Retreat Center used to work at his computer far into the night. He told me that he had found a way, to a large extent, to replace sleep with Yoga Nidra.

Around four o'clock in the morning he turns off his computer, takes a shower, and places himself on a rug on the floor and listens to the long Yoga Nidra. Sometimes, he falls asleep afterwards and sleeps for half an hour to an hour. Then he eats his breakfast and goes to work fresh and rested.

This, he can do without a problem, three nights a week.

For a period I practised Yoga Nidra just before going to bed. I had felt tense when bedtime came and wanted to improve my sleep. Instead of going to bed like I used to at half past ten, I began to listen to the long Yoga Nidra. When the CD was over at a quarter past eleven, I went to bed and fell asleep right away. To my surprise, I woke up completely rested at five o'clock, 45 minutes earlier than I used to get up.

For several weeks, I did Yoga Nidra at the same time every night and I kept waking up at the same time every morning.

A woman dancer was on one of our postnatal yoga courses. She told me that after giving birth, she felt stiff and full of aches in her muscles, just like after training her dance exercises. But following each class, which involves physical yoga and Yoga Nidra, the aches in her muscles were gone. She wondered why.

Swami Satyananda once said that a half hour of Yoga Nidra is equal to four hours of sleep. And I have read that you need four hours of unbroken sleep for the muscles to relax enough to allow the blood to carry away the lactic acid that has accumulated there. This woman never slept that long at a stretch without being woken by her baby and, therefore, the lactic acid remained in her muscles and caused the pain.

Could it be that her muscles relaxed as much during half an hour of Yoga Nidra as they would during four hours of unbroken sleep? (Mira)

How Yoga helped me overcome shingles

In July, 1995 I woke one morning with a severe pain down the side of my nose. I thought it was the beginning of a sinus attack so I did nasal cleansing and Nadi Shodhana [a yogic breathing exercise].

While this relaxed me, the pain was still intense and, by that night, had centred in my right eye. My doctor diagnosed shingles.

Unfortunately, as it was a late diagnosis, the optic nerve had already been affected. I was in terrible pain and, as shingles affect the nerve endings, I suffered from deep depression, especially at night. But then I began to get up early each morning, - usually between 4 - 5 am - to do Yoga Nidra. After that, I was able to return to bed relaxed and much more comfortable, which helped greatly.

In the afternoons, I began to do 20 minutes or so of Nadi Shodhana which relaxed my head and really helped the pain. After a couple of weeks of this routine, I was amazed at how much better I felt and, by degrees, I was able to do simple eye exercises such as Palming, Sideways viewing etc. After four weeks, I was told at the eye clinic that, in spite of initial scarring of the retina, my sight was now perfect. I had used reading glasses for small print but I now find that I don't need them anymore. As I was sixty last year, I feel that this is something of a record.

I would recommend yoga to anyone suffering from a severe dose of shingles such as I had, especially in the delicate eye area.

(Dympna Dreyer, Waterford, Ireland)