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I needed to learn how to relax in order to benefit my health. I have always been a highly motivated and proactive person. I was a perfectionist. If I started something then I had to finish it, I attempted to meet others expectations and didn't like to say no.
My search for tuition in relaxation tequniques did not take long. I attended a Yoga and Relaxation class and there I experienced Yoga Nidra, an age old Yogic practice that has stood the test of time.
This deeply relaxing and healing practice can be done at any time of the day. My class was in the evening; and though it can be a wonderful aid to a deeply relaxing sleep if done before getting into bed, our very experienced teacher would never end class with this practice because she didn't want us to drive straight away afterwards.
Having already discovered Mindfulnesss Meditation, body scan and Hatha Yoga I found that this practice is a little like all three of these wonderful systems rolled into one - this is a pretty powerful experience!
I discovered James Jewell at his website www.yogamountainyogasea.com when I was searching for a recording of this practice. I wanted the opportunity to experience the deep healing benefits of Yoga Nidra on a more regular basis.
A JEWELL IN THE CROWN THAT IS RELAXATION
Already impressed with James' profile and philosphy ( which you can discover on his impressive website) I had no hesitation in ordering his CD. You can purchase it from www.amazon.co.uk for £14.59 on disc and MP3 at a greatly reduced price of £2.37. Prices fluctuate and if you visit eBay you may get a CD for less.
The CD comes in an attractive and spiritually uplifting design which depicts sand and sky. Within the case and on the back cover there is some detailed information from James regarding the practice. Also there is a short introduction to Mr Jewell who has been practicing Yoga since the 1980's. He has developed his own style of teaching Yoga.
I decided to preview the introduction which is approximately 4 minutes long and also the beginning of the first and second session. The duration of these are approximately 35 minutes and just over 20 minutes respectively. I wanted to get an idea of what to expect and observe if there were any differences to my class experience. James' teaching is similar to how the Yoga teacher instructed Yoga Nidra.
The difference between the long Yoga Nidra and short Yoga Nidra on James' CD is:
Has a duration of relaxing before and after the session and the cello accompanies James only at the beginning and end. Yoga Nidra is done without music.
Shorter duration of relaxing before and after the session and the cello plays throughout the Yoga Nidra.
I quite like the music that accompanies the second shorter Yoga Nidra - it is a hauntingly beautiful cello and is not too intrusive - it does not distract you from James' voice. Yoga Nidra is the same whichever option you choose. You decide whether to have a longer relaxing session or music throughout a shorter period. This affords you opportunity to fit it in when you are restricted by time and also a choice to rotate.
LIE ON YOUR BACK AND LET JAMES WORK HIS MAGIC
Yoga Nidra is especially good for reducing stress. Our society is getting faster and wanting more and more from us in less time. We are a 24 hour culture where peace and tranquility often elude us. It was time for me to get back to me and rediscover my inner world, were I would experience bliss.
It is essential that you find and space and time where you will not be disturbed as you will be very deeply relaxed and a sudden interruption would not be beneficial.
You can be seated to practice but if you lie on your back it allows you to release and let go more easily. The pose that is normally used is Savasana one of the most important Yoga asana's (postures). For anyone with ME/CFS this is THE recommended pose as it allows the muscles to totally relax ( this can ease aches and reduce pain). Savasana also relaxes the breath which has a key role in good health and healing. Optimal breathing from your diagphram oxygenates organs and muscles and helps to calm the mind.
Lie flat on your back on the floor. Have a good stretch. With legs about hip width apart. Allow the feet to relax outwards. Arms a little away from your body with palms facing up. Try to straighten the neck by pulling the chin slightly in. (I find that a slim pillow or cushion supporting the head is more comfortable if you are new to yoga). You can use a mat or rug to lie on. Keep warm by using a blanket because the body soon cools down in this posture.
I listen to the introduction whilst I am ensuring that I am in a comfortable position. I work with Yoga Nidra in a morning normally but you can select any time of the day. Be mindful to allow yourself time to be fully awake again before undertaking any activities such as cooking or driving as this is very deeply relaxing.
I normally run the longer session as I enjoy the silence during Yoga Nidra and like to hear only James' voice. Eyes will be closed and you will not be required to move from here on in. James will vary his tone and volume because he is going to be guiding your consciousness around the body. This will aid in maintaing wakeful sleep (wakeful sleep is a description of Yoga Nidra, you remain awake but the effects are like you experience when in deep sleep). James will ask you to choose an affirmirmation/resolve at the beginning of Yoga Nidra and once again at the end. The affirmation needs to be conscise and positive eg I am peaceful.
You will take three wonderful deep inhalations/exhalations and then James will gently and soothingly guide you around parts of your body. The alpha waves of the brain are activated during the practice which are very beneficial (especially for cognition) and also the hemispheres of the brain become balanced. Every so often James will ask you to think to yourself 'I am awake' because even though you feel so very peaceful and relaxed ( as if you could just drop off to sleep) you will need to remain awake - wakeful sleep. You will become aware of your breathing. You will notice where you are breathing from (chest or stomach) and notice the smallest sensation within the body - even though you are perfectly still. The feeling is beautiful - the mind becomes decluttered and if any thoughts come along you are advised to simply observe and not feel the need to interact - let them go.
You will become deeply relaxed, the breathing is slower and deeper and you may notice that you are not aware of outside stimuli - you will be existing in your inner world and it can be euphoric. During my experience I felt limitless and just beautiful - I felt 'at peace'.
James will ask you to repeat your affirmation 3 times to yourself and then you will be taken on a journey around the body. Starting with the thumb on the right hand and then each finger (no time for wondering what to do for tea now) this is relatively quick and I felt each area vibrate or tingle - I was intensely aware of the body part for that fleeting second that we touch on it. It is especially noticable with lips and hands and that is because we use these often so we are more aware of them. Close your eyes for a minute and direct your attention to you lips, mine felt as though they were really big and softly tingling! James will rotate your awareness to the right side, left side, front and back, head and face - everything is covered and it flows eloquently with James' voice dancing over each cycle of speech. I was completely tuned in to the inner world - all was quiet in Monkey Mind. (Monkey Mind is a term used in Mindfulness Meditiation and simply describes how the mind is like a mischievous monkey that is always wanting your full attention. Initiating things to concern or worry you and preventing you from being in the present moment).
James will then ask you to follow the breath. You will experience the breath, become the breath - simply observe it. You will count down from twelve to one and say to yourself I am breathing in/out. This keeps your mind attentive to the task in hand. (Do this regularly and eventually you will get less and less attached to thoughts and worries and concerns of the day. It really does work if you put in the effort). I find this wonderfully calming, though how calm can one get.
From here James will focus on opposite sensations of the body. You will feel heavy and sink into the floor. I really did feel heavy, just focussing the mind on feeling it makes it seem so real. Similarly I felt light, cold (as if walking on snow) and hot ( as if sunbathing in the Mediterranean). How this happens I don't know but incredibly I was so focussed that I felt these sensations as if real!
James will check to see every so often if you are awake. I felt awake but it was as if my body was in a deeply relaxed slumber. If I was asked to move a leg I don't think that it would have budged!
There are visualisations to come, initially a place of my own imagining. A place of serenity and peace. In my minds eye (focus on the third eye - the point just above and inbetween the eyebrows) the place appeared of it's own accord and became vivid, bright and colourful. It was a bissful experience. Then, gently, James will list variety of words that conjur up alsorts of images, it felt rather like I was seeing one photograph after another. Though these images were richer and had energy around them. This kind of visualisation communicates with conciousness and intuition, not a bad thing to develop.
Remember the affirmation/resolve that were made at the beginning - well it is now repeated three times. I had no problem remembering mine. I was surprised because I felt so relaxed. Gentley James guides you back by reintroducing feelings, sensations and finally the outside sounds of the world. Before opening the eyes it is important to ensure that you are fully awake. To do this you can stretch and roll, sit up and then slowly open your eyes. It is not advisable to hurry out of the deeply relaxed state as it would leave you feeling ungrounded. (When ungrounded you can experience a 'spaced out' senstation).
MAKE TIME FOR YOU BECAUSE YOU ARE WORTH IT
I am delighted that I discovered Yoga Nidra. As with any form of Yoga it has many benefits even if you only manage to do it once a week. As I stated earlier this system reminds me of three systems together. Because you lie in Savasana you are in one of the most relaxing and healing postures possible. The body scan type system of Yoga Nidra communicates and tunes into your conciousness and inner world - activating the alpha waves of the brain and balancing the hemispheres and also focuses on the breath. Mindfulness is developed by remaining in the present moment and accepting what is happening right here, right now. Yoga Nidra has numerous positive benefits and can aid with physical and emotional pain, insomnia and stress related issues. You can become calm and content.
MY THOUGHTS WITH MY CALM AND CLEAR MIND
Yoga Nidra has been extremely beneficial for me. It has, along with a regular Yoga practice, helped me to develop an inner calm, radiance, gracefulness, focus, confidence, deeper sleep, relieved aches and promoted a contented happiness that I have never experienced before. The inner world is there for us all to visit - we just need to make time and reap the benefits. My experience of James CD is a good one. It is a high quality recording which flows seamlessly from one track to the next. The sound quality is wonderful and needs to be, given the nature of it's use, as it needs to promote relaxation. The length of time of both sessions is more than adequate and I like the variation of the two. I have to give the cello a mention as it is just beautiful. The CD is protected by a jewel case and the artwork is lovely.
Visit James on www.yogamountainyogasea.com
Get a CD or MP3 from Amazon (prices fluctuate but at time of reviewing CD £14.59 and MP3 £2.37)
Google or eBay it and maybe find it for less on CD.
If this is something that you are interested in for whatever reason then I can highly recommend James' CD of Yoga Nidra. His voice is lovely and soothing, the Cello sound is a haunting delight which I also like occasionally and he instructs the system beautifully. It is something that I relish and thoroughly enjoy and I know that it benefits me greatly.
Thank you for reading. The review will also be published on CIAO under my username Dawnymarie.