Yoga Nidra literally translates into “yogic sleep.”
This form of yoga may be the least explored technique for transforming the mind and body. However, the benefits of Yoga Nidra are very powerful.
Yoga Nidra is an ancient practice originating from the Tantras.
Tantra literally means to “stretch” the “instrument” as it applies to religious or meditative experience. In this case it is a philosophy of mind and body that can expand awareness and effect change. And changes in your mental state can have a profound effect on the body.
It is estimated that underlying stress causes over 80% of all illnesses.
Benefits of Yoga Nidra
More yoga studios are offering this type of meditation to their clients who seek relief from stress and physical ailments.
Yoga Nidra does not require years of practice, a flexible body or intellectual understanding to practice. It does require a willingness to explore a state of deep relaxation through a guided meditation process; delivered by an experienced yoga practitioner.
The goal of Yoga Nidra is to eliminate harmful unconscious obstructions and energetic blocks that negatively impact your physical health and emotional state of mind.
Research has shown that practitioners have reached a deep state of relaxation, measured by EEG (electroencephalagraph) showing the characteristic slow rhythm delta waves produced by the brain. During this deep state of relaxation healing and transformative change can take place through auto-suggestion.
An integral part of the Yoga Nidra experience is utilizing positive affirmations.
This affirmation process is called Sankalpa. Your Sankalpa is a statement or intention, directing the subconscious mind. Everyone’s Sankalpa is different, depending on your own physical and mental state. One person might affirm “I am relaxed” and another might state: “I am cancer free”.
How to practice Yoga Nidra
Typically when you practice Yoga Nidra, you will begin in the Savasana or corpse pose.
Your practitioner will make sure you are comfortable — a rolled towel under your knees or head might be offered. You may have a blanket covering you and eye coverings may be available to reduce the light in the room.
The practitioner will probably explain the goal is to maintain a state of conscious “sleep”, so they may lightly touch your head or feet during practice if they think you have fallen asleep.
There is a distinction between yogic sleep and napping!
Ideally at the end of the practice, you will be able to recall most what your practitioner has said, even though many people sense they are present and not present at the same time.
After you practice Yoga Nidra this statement might make more sense to you, though I’ll admit that this seems contradictory.
During practice — which lasts about 45 minutes to an hour — your yoga teacher will use guided imagery and deep relaxation techniques, for example:
- body scanning (becoming aware of areas of the body)
- soft music
- positive statements
- readings from the Yoga Sutras.
Each Yoga Nidra experience can be very unique and different depending on your state of mind and the practitioner giving the class. However, you can expect to feel deeply rested or relaxed and some people report feeling very energized.