This yoga nidra script can provide aquatic enthusiasts a relaxing experience during a turbulent time
The COVID-19 restrictions are wearing on all of us. It’s difficult to be thrown into a new way of living so suddenly where many familiar comforts—including our daily stress-releasing swims—are no longer available. Breath by breath, yoga nidra can melt away your worries, relax your nervous system, and bring you back to a state of balance.
Yoga nidra practice transports you through different states of consciousness in a way that allows your body to replenish and rest and that allows personal transformation. Although yoga nidra literally means “yogic sleep,” it is in fact an awakening, a method of relaxing that brings you closer to your authentic self.
The script presented below is designed to appeal to swimmers, yet follows the general structure developed by Swami Satyananda Saraswati and taught at the Bihar School of Yoga beginning in the 1970s. Some scripts are outlined in his book “Yoga Nidra,” available on Amazon and elsewhere. Richard Miller recently developed the widely practiced iRest program, geared toward helping people cope with painful emotions including grief, pain and anger. His book “Yoga Nidra: A Meditative Practice for Deep Healing and Relaxation” is available on Amazon and elsewhere. Many other yoga nidra scripts are available to listen to on the Insight Timer app.
Before you practice, you may want to come up with a sankalpa, or resolve. This is a short, concise affirmation, intention, or heartfelt desire stated in the present tense. Most people who practice use the same sankalpa until they feel the resolve has been manifested in their lives. Many examples of sankalpas are listed on this Luna Nidra site.
Record the script below as a voice memo on your smartphone, so you will have it available to listen to any time you need to relax and rest your body and mind. Talk in a calm, relaxing voice, and read the script very slowly. The headings do not need to be said out loud.
You are about to practice yoga nidra, a deep and relaxing meditation experience that will allow you to let go of distractions and worries and connect with your deeper self. Please lie down on your back and relax in a comfortable position on the floor or bed with your palms facing up and your feet falling gently out to the side. Position your head comfortably, with your head and neck in a neutral position, with your forehead level or slightly higher than your chin. Feel free to place a blanket under your head or a bolster under your knees. Whatever you need to feel very comfortable and at ease in this relaxed posture.
Now please soften and close your eyes and allow your body to slowly relax and settle into the posture. Come to a place of stillness and try to remain still throughout the practice. If you notice discomfort anywhere in your body at any time, first observe. If it continues to bother you, make any necessary adjustment, and then come back to a place of stillness as soon as possible.
Take a deep breath, and as you exhale, let go of all worries and distracting thoughts. Allow your mind to relax completely. Follow the sound of my voice throughout the practice, remaining awake and aware. Now allow the sound and the easy rhythm of your breath to further relax your body. Allow each breath to flow through you like a rolling sea wave.
Observe sounds outside and inside the room, noticing them without finding any of them disturbing. Feel awareness of your body from the crown of your head to the tips of your toes. Mentally repeat the mantra o-o-m-m, noticing stillness in your body and awareness in your mind of your whole body. Again, say to yourself o-o-m-m, keeping your awareness on your whole body, your whole body on the floor, relaxing. Become aware that you are going to practice yoga nidra. Say to yourself, “I am aware, and I am going to practice Yoga nidra.” Repeat this to yourself again. The practice of Yoga nidra begins now.
Now is the time to state your sankalpa, a concise vow or affirmation stated to yourself in the present tense. Repeat your sankalpa in your mind three times with full awareness, sincerity, and faith. If you do not yet have an affirmation you are working with, simply say to yourself, “I am opening myself up to learning more about my deepest self.”
ROC (Rotation of Consciousness)
Now we will begin a rotation of consciousness experience. You will transfer your awareness swiftly to different parts of your physical body while remaining still. Allow your mind to quickly transition from part to part. Please stay alert, but do not strain to follow my script. This should be a relaxing journey through the different parts of your body. Think of the part of the body or see it in your mind’s eye—whichever you find easier, but make sure not to actually move the part of your body being mentioned.
Become aware of your right hand. Now draw your awareness to your right hand thumb, second finger, third finger, fourth finger, fifth finger, palm, back of the hand, wrist, forearm, elbow, upper arm, shoulder, arm pit, right side of the body, waist, hip, right thigh, knee, lower leg, ankle, heel, sole of the right foot, top of the right foot, big toe, second toe, third toe, fourth toe, fifth toe.
Become aware of your left hand. Left hand thumb, second finger, third finger, fourth finger, fifth finger, palm, back of hand, left wrist, forearm, elbow, upper arm, shoulder, arm pit, left side of the body, waist, hip, left thigh, knee, lower leg, ankle, heel, sole of the left foot, top of the left foot, big toe, second toe, third toe, fourth toe, fifth toe.
Moving on to the back of your body. Become aware of the right shoulder blade, left shoulder blade, right glutes, left glutes, the whole of your spine and back together.
Move to the front of your body. Draw your awareness to the top of your head, then move to your right temple, left temple, right eyebrow, left eyebrow, eyebrow center point, right eye and eyelid, left eye and eyelid, right cheek, left cheek, right nostril, left nostril, upper lip, lower lip, chin, throat, right side of the chest, left side of the chest, middle of the chest, navel, abdomen, pelvis, pelvic floor. The whole of the right leg, the whole of the left leg, both legs together. The whole right arm, the whole left arm, both arms together. The whole back of the body. The whole front of the body. Feel the whole body together on the floor. Remaining awake and aware, feel your whole physical body resting, completely still and relaxed, softening and sinking. Visualize your whole body relaxed and resting on the Earth.
Return your awareness to your breath. Feel the gentle rise and fall of your chest, rib cage, and abdomen with each slow breath and feel the nourishing energy of the breath flowing through you. Visualize the front of your body and the space between your navel and throat. Begin to visualize your breath rising from your navel to your throat with each inhale and slowly descending with each exhale.
Now listen to the soft sound of your breath and how it sounds like the mantra so-hum. You can hear the “so” sound when you inhale, and the “hum” sound when you release your breath. Hear your so-hum breath and feel it moving through you easily, without effort.
Let go of your concentration on the mantra and continue to visualize your breath rising from your navel to your throat. Begin to count your breath, descending from 10 to 1. Inhale, breath rising, 10, exhale, breath descending, 10. Inhale, breath rising, 9, exhale, breath descending, 9. Continue on with your breathing, maintaining awareness. If you lose track of your counting, begin again at 10. If you finish counting to 1 before I give further instructions, simply go back to 10 again and begin counting down a second time.
Now cease the practice of counting.
Awareness of Sensations
Awaken the sensation of heat in your body. You are outside on a scorching hot, sunny day. Feel the sweat running down your body. Feel the intense heat on your skin. Even your clothes are so hot from the blazing sun they seem to scorch your skin.
Now allow the sensation of heat to fade away.
Experience the sensation of intense cold. Imagine you are standing in the snow in your swimsuit, with no shoes on your feet. Visualize the goose bumps rising on your skin, your whole body shivering.
Now allow the sensation of cold to fade away.
Awaken the sensation of being wet. You are walking outside in a jungle during a torrential rain. Water is dripping from your hair. Your drenched clothes are sticking to your skin.
Now allow this wet sensation to dissipate.
Experience the sensation of being dry. You are standing outside in the Atacama Desert in Chile, the most arid desert in the world. Your skin feels parched and tingles from lack of moisture. Your throat feels like sandpaper, craving even a single drop of water.
Now allow this sensation of intense dryness to leave you.
Concentrate on the space in front of your closed eyelids. In this space, begin to notice the screen of the mind we call chidikasha. This space extends as high and wide and distant as the eye can see. Concentrate on this mind screen and become aware of any colors, patterns, or light you may see. Whatever you see manifested by your mind. Continue to be aware of this space, but do not become involved. Practice detached awareness only.
Now intensify your imagination and allow yourself to take this journey with me.
Imagine you are at your favorite beach walking along the shore. The sun is rising, illuminating brilliant shades of pink and orange in the clouds. You can feel the breath of the sea breeze tickling your skin, smell the salt in the air, and feel the squeeze of sand between your toes. You can hear the sound of gentle waves rolling onto the sand.
You look out over the endless expanse of blue-green water and notice a pod of dolphins swimming close to the shore where you are walking. You stop to watch them. You see one arc up out of the water and then dive down so gracefully, its two-pronged tail the last thing to disappear beneath the surface of the water. Another dolphin jumps up even higher, doing a flip in the air before entering the water nose-first without making a splash. You see two dolphins chasing each other. They zoom through the water so fast that they produce wakes on the nearly flat water. You smile as you observe the dolphins playing.
You flash back to when you were a child. Back in those youthful days, you would skip or run or dance to a favorite song or turn a cartwheel in the grass. But you don’t do those things anymore because there are too many serious things to do, and you are expected to act like an adult. But you glance around and notice the beach is deserted. A laugh escapes your lips. You find yourself skipping through the sand and the shallows along the shore, watching the sea water splash all around you. You allow this playful feeling to wash over you like another rolling wave. You break into a run, watching for a flat spot in the sand. Then you rotate downward, placing your hands onto the sand and feeling your legs fly over your head as you execute a cartwheel. The years seem to drop away. You feel happy and full of joy. Like an innocent child. You feel so free. You raise your arms in the air and twirl around, inhaling a breath of life that has never felt so renewing.
Now allow these images to slowly fade away.
Now come back to your resolve and repeat it to yourself three times with full awareness, sincerity, and faith.
Now return your attention to the rhythm and soft sound of your natural breath, feeling its flow in and out of the nostrils. As you maintain your awareness of your slow, easy breath, develop your awareness of your state of physical relaxation. Notice your whole body resting on the floor. Notice the parts of your body that are touching the floor. Your head and upper back, your elbows and hands, your buttocks, your calves, and heels.
Begin to notice sounds outside the room. Notice sounds inside the room. Visualize the floor, the windows and walls and the ceiling in the room where you are lying. Slowly start to do some slow movements. Start to do larger movements and some stretches and slowly open your eyes. Roll over onto your right side and take at least five deep breaths before slowly making your way back up into a seated position. The practice of yoga nidra is now complete.
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