You may have heard the term before, but what exactly is Yoga Nidra? In the quest for ultimate relaxation and inner peace, this powerful yoga practice has emerged as a powerful tool.
Often described as “yogic sleep,” it is a unique form of meditation that goes beyond the realm of traditional yoga asanas. It holds transformative benefits for those seeking rest.
Sabrina often hosts incredible yoga events that include Yoga Nidra and Nada, so we thought we’d explain a little more about this incredible practice.
How Does Yoga Nidra Work
Yoga Nidra is a powerful relaxation technique that allows the practitioner to enter a state of conscious sleep.
During the practice, it’ll appear like you are asleep. However, you don’t actually sleep. In fact, your consciousness will be heightened.
Unlike conventional sleep, Yoga Nidra maintains a state of awareness while allowing you to experience complete physical, mental, and emotional relaxation.
It is a systematic method of inducing deep relaxation at all levels of being, promoting self-awareness, healing, and personal transformation.
Each Yoga Nidra experience is unique. It differs from person to person as well as from session to session. I’ve never had the same Yoga Nidra experience. Each time has been completely different.
Yoga Nidra Origins and Philosophy
Derived from ancient yogic traditions, Yoga Nidra combines the profound wisdom of yoga and the therapeutic benefits of deep relaxation.
It was developed by the ancient sages and yogis of India, who explored the profound connection between the body, mind, and consciousness. The practice is mentioned in ancient texts like the Upanishads and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
It has been practiced in many forms since its conception but was refined and popularized by Swami Satyananda Saraswati.
The term “Yoga Nidra” can be broken down into two Sanskrit words: “yoga,” meaning union or integration, and “nidra,” meaning sleep. It is the union of relaxation and meditation, where the practitioner enters a state between wakefulness and sleep, connecting with their innermost self.
The Process of Yoga Nidra
During a Yoga Nidra session, you lie down in a comfortable position, usually in Savasana (corpse pose).
Following this, your teacher will guide you through the practice using their voice. You will be guided to turn your senses inward, allowing you to experience the mind.
The practice typically consists of a series of verbal cues that direct your attention inward, guiding you through different stages of relaxation and self-exploration. Keep in mind that the teacher is merely a facilitator. You are the true captain of your practice.
The most important thing to do when practicing Yoga Nidra is to stay awake. But don’t judge yourself if you do happen to doze off.
How Long is Yoga Nidra?
A Yoga Nidra practice can last anywhere from 10 to 60 minutes. The duration will depend on the objective, your availability, and how experienced you are. Yoga Nidra can be tough initially, so we recommend starting with shorter sessions and gradually building up to longer ones.
What Type of Clothing is Ideal for Yoga Nidra?
In Yoga Nidra, you want to be comfortable. This means light, loose-fitting clothing is ideal.
The 8 Stages of Yoga Nidra
Yoga Nidra has different phases of guidance, allowing you to deepen your awareness and fully relax.
Yoga Nidra is practiced in Savasana with your eyes closed. Here you will breathe normally. The mind will likely focus on external sounds, and then you will be guided inwards.
Then you will bring your awareness closer to your body, then to your body, and lastly to your breath.
Setting an intention
The Yoga Nidra process begins by setting an intention known as a Sankalpa. You set a clear intention or resolve, known as a Sankalpa, which acts as a seed for personal growth and transformation.
Rotation of Consciousness (Body Scan)
The second stage of Yoga Nidra consists of systematically bringing your awareness to different parts of the body. Here you will consciously relax and release any tension or discomfort. You’ll follow the voice of the teacher as they guide you around your body.
You focus on observing the natural flow of your breath, allowing it to deepen and become slower, which calms the nervous system. You should not attempt to force your breath or change it. You’ll merely be aware of how the breath enters and leaves your body.
Feelings and Sensations
In this stage, you’ll focus on relaxing feelings and emotions. You’ll engage in a process of witnessing and exploring any sensations, emotions, or images that arise without judgment or attachment.
This stage focuses on mental relaxation. You’ll harness the power of visualization and imagination to access deeper layers of consciousness. Your guide will describe certain images, and you will then visualize them.
You’ll repeat the same resolve or Sankalpa you created at the beginning of the Yoga Nidra session.
Towards the end of the practice, you gradually bring your awareness back to the external environment. You will be encouraged to ground yourself and carry the benefits of the practice into your daily life.
Benefits of Yoga Nidra
The benefits of Yoga Nidra extend far beyond the practice itself. Regular engagement in this unique form of meditation yields numerous rewards for both the body and mind.
Through this unique combination of delta brainwaves and pineal gland activation, Yoga Nidra becomes a powerful gateway to inner healing, rejuvenation, and expanded awareness.
Yoga Nidra helps alleviate physical, mental, and emotional tension, leading to a deep sense of relaxation and tranquility. Yoga Nidra grants access to delta brainwaves, the waves responsible for healing and restoration during deep sleep.
With Yoga Nidra, you get all the benefits of sleep while maintaining full awareness. Regular practice of Yoga Nidra promotes better sleep patterns, alleviating insomnia and sleep-related disorders. It is a great practice if you’re suffering from insomnia.
By exploring the layers of consciousness, Yoga Nidra cultivates self-observation and self-reflection, leading to a deeper understanding of oneself. Additionally, Yoga Nidra activates the pineal gland, often referred to as the “third eye,” enhancing intuition and deepening the connection to higher realms of consciousness.
The practice provides a safe space to process and release suppressed emotions. Let them out and let them go.
Tips from a Yoga Nidra Practitioner
It is also perfectly normal to miss some verbal cues. That’s not the point of Yoga Nidra. It’s about your awareness.
Being alone with your mind can seem daunting, and it does make Yoga Nidra one of the most challenging forms of yoga. But the practice allows you to learn about your mind, connect with yourself. If emotions are released, let them be released. I’ve cried during almost every single Yoga Nidra experience.
It’s also normal to feel anxious. If or when this happens, refrain from judgment and try to get back to the source. Become a witness to all these experiences.
In some cases, you might even want to engage in some movement before you settle in Yoga Nidra.
Discover Yoga Nidra
Yoga Nidra offers a unique path to relaxation and self-discovery, bridging the realms of yoga, meditation, and profound rejuvenation.
By delving into the depths of this transformative practice, we unlock the potential to find solace amidst the chaos of daily life. It allows us to tap into our inner wisdom, and experience true integration of body, mind, and spirit.
You can also check out our Yoga Nidra session on Instagram