Yogic Sleep Yogic Sleep
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Breathe In

Yogic Sleep

The Practice of Yoga Nidra
Maria Górz
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Yoga nidra (or yogic sleep) is an ancient practice that can help us face the demands of modern living. It’s accessible to everyone, regardless of their age and physical fitness. Yoga nidra helps the body deeply relax and builds our resistance to stress. It can remedy insomnia and even improve memory – the list of benefits goes on.

Our first meeting took place in 2015. I was living in a Hridaya yoga and meditation community in the south of Mexico and despite my nearly decade-long yoga experience, I had never heard of nidra. After the class, I felt reborn. The short practice was enough to bring me a sense of deep calm, distance from the world around me, and inner lightness that I had never experienced before. I didn’t yet have the theoretical knowledge to realize that for the past 30 minutes, my brain had been floating freely on the alpha waves typical for the relaxation phase we experience right before falling asleep. Much later, I also learned that classic writings refer to the state of mind after yoga nidra practice as “peace that eludes words to describe it”. In the years upon my return to Poland, I was overjoyed to see more and more yoga schools and teachers offer this form of practice to their students.

The path to deep rest

Let’s start with the basics: yoga nidra does not require us to do any kind of gymnastics on the mat. We spend the entire session lying comfortably on the ground, wrapped in warm blankets. We practice in savasana, also known as the corpse pose. The only thing we are expected to do is follow the voice of our guide and try to stay conscious, without falling asleep. The guide will lead us softly through several stages of the practice. First, we find an unconstrained and comfortable position, then create the intention, focusing on individual parts of the body. Finally, we visualize. Each

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Illustration by Marian Eile, from Przekrój archives
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The Rhythm of the Night

How Music Can Help with Insomnia
Enis Yucekoralp

“Even asleep we partake in the becoming of the world,” to utter the echo in Czesław Miłosz’s poem “A Magic Mountain”. Lying awake at night, I have sometimes found myself turning this idea over in my head. Like millions of slumberless souls, I have suffered with regular bouts of insomnia, which, in my case, were triggered by overworking, psychological pressure, and obsessive thoughts. Insomniac sleep deprivation provoked in me a profound anxiety, shades of paranoia, and the promise of depression. However, during one tempestuous summer a few years ago, I discovered an aural way to silence it.

Beleaguered in the stifling intensity of two interim jobs, I worked too much, too hard and too long; stress-ridden and marooned in the city, I fell over the edge into a nightly insomnia. Like quicksand, the more I tried to sleep and ignore the freneticism of my racing thoughts, the harder it became to drift off – I couldn’t say how I partook in Miłosz’s becoming. I tried everything, from books on balmy midnight sleepwalks to friendly lectures on temperance. Nothing worked. A sleeping pill prescription was complicated by side-effect trepidation spawned by my state of nervous distress; my mental health suffered and I feared a repeat of depressive episodes. In the past, I had used music to modulate my emotions, so I trialled a kind of self-directed musical hypnosis. Finally, here was something that hit a chord.

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