In Hinduism, nyasa is a Tantric ritual that involves a series of touches in specific locations on the body. It is thought that this ritual imparts the presence of a deity in the body, or makes the body of the individual more divine. Nyasa is often performed before or during pujas acts of reverence , at the hands of a seer or by the individual who is chanting or meditating. There are different types of nyasa practice. Some of the most common are:. In some nyasa practices, a mantra from a book is considered ineffective. Instead, it is believed that the mantras should be produced by a rishi. The relaxation, meditation and visualization exercises also called yoga nidra that are used at the end of a yoga practice -- and, during which, practitioners "place" efforts of relaxation on specific body parts -- originally stem from mental nyasa rituals.
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Nyasa is the conscious act of touching or placing the fingers or hands on sacred, sensitive, or medicinally active points of the body. In hindu tantric meditations and pujas, the practitioner lays his hands on himself in each of these places, in special sequences. The meditator infuses each location with a special mantra, visualization, or feeling, which is spoken aloud or mentally conjured. In the case of nyasa during tantric maithuna sacred sexuality , the male anoints each part of the female with aromatic oils, ashes, or sandalwood paste, and the touching and mantra infusion both sanctifies each body part, arouses it sensually, and creates empathy, or connection, between the partners. In modern western terms, nyasa creates mind-body connections by linking together neural networks, merging physical sensation in the body with thoughts and feelings of sanctity, joy, devotion, protection, and warmth. In the early s, Swami Satyananda Saraswati of the Bihar School of Yoga decided that the religious overtones of this practice might repel many westerners who might otherwise benefit from yoga. Now repeat the process, touching any part of your body that needs it — sore joints, achy sinuses, whatever. What is Nyasa? Look at your imagined yellow smiley face until you start to smile. Feel the results.
The word nyasa means 'to place'. It is a practice in which specific mantras are 'placed' and felt at different parts of the body. It is the traditional form of yoga nidra used by yogis throughout the ages and still practised by almost all Hindus. Nyasa is described in various scriptures such as the Brihad Yoga Yajnavalkya Smriti and the Yogataravali, as well as many upanishadic and tantric texts. The Aruneyi Upanishad verse 5 advises all wandering sannyasins to practise nyasa at all times - to chant Aum and to place it mentally at different parts of the body. More specific and ritualistic forms of nyasa are described in the Mahanirvana Tantra. They include the following:.