What is Yoga Nidra?
Yoga Nidra is one of the deepest relaxation states the body can be in while maintaining total awareness.
Swami Satyananda Saraswati created Yoga Nidra, which adapted and modified these ancient practices, retaining their essence while eliminating the ritualistic complexities, adapting them to our time, and making them more available to non-initiated individuals.
You stay in a state of lucid dreaming in this exercise, know your dream world, but have little to no knowledge of your real environment. The phase of Yoga Nidra conserves and consolidates your resources for yoga activities. It also relaxes the system and prepares it for Pranayama and meditation. It is necessary to make time for Yoga Nidra in the midst of your other training practices (1).
The structured meditation takes you through the Pancha Maya kosha (five layers of self) as you rest comfortably in savasana (corpse pose), leaving you with a sense of wholeness. You don’t have to hate spending hours lying on the floor hoping for independence anymore. Yoga Nidra is not the same as meditation practice (2), which is very important and should be kept in mind by any practitioner. The two practices may be identical, but their goals and outcomes vary. The main differences between the methodology and meditation of Yoga Nidra are below.
Yoga Nidra vs Meditation
As both a method of meditation and mind-body therapy, Yoga Nidra is an ancient but little-known yogic practice that is becoming increasingly popular. It is a structured type of directed relaxation that usually takes between 35 and 40 minutes at a time (3).
Yoga Nidra is not the same thing as meditation, really. You lie down and go into a semi-hypnotic state while you do the Nidra, a state between being awake and asleep. However, you sit with your spine erect when you are meditating and are more alert and conscious than when you are in Yoga Nidra.
This is more like meditative preparation. In reality, it is the practice of the sense of withdrawal that prepares you to enter the meditation state. Your focus is drawn inward, and so much so that you enter the mental state of meditation, your mind and body are calming down.
It is incredibly difficult to meditate for most people today, mainly because we are so busy and impatient that for long stretches it is hard to sit still and quiet. It will immediately allow you to take on the challenges of meditation as you learn Yoga Nidra, and soon, you will be able to meditate with ease (4).
We restore our body, senses, and mind to their natural function in yoga Nidra and awaken a seventh sense that allows us to feel no separation, that only sees wholeness, tranquility, and well-being,” says Richard Miller, a yoga instructor and clinical psychologist from the San Francisco Bay Area who is at the forefront of the Nidra yoga teaching movement and taking it to a broader audience (5).
What are the benefits of Yoga Nidra?
There are many advantages of Yoga Nidra. But these are the key benefits (6).
- After an intense Yoga exercise, it cools the body down and restores the body’s natural temperature.
- It ensures the nervous system is stimulated and allows the body to absorb the benefits of asanas.
- It flushes the body’s toxins out.
- It helps to rest during pregnancy and to relax.
Anyone can do it
Intensive flows of vinyasa and long holds of asana are not for all. However, Yoga Nidra is an activity that can be performed by anyone, from kids to seniors. At any age, it’s easy to follow. Lying down on the floor is something that your body wants to do. And even if you can’t lay down on the concrete, you can still sit down to do your workout.
You will find your connection with all living things
Yoga Nidra provides a gentle approach as a meditation technique, beginning with body consciousness, then engaging with thoughts and feelings compassionately as they emerge, and eventually leading the meditator to access a greater field of consciousness. In reality, it is synonymous with samadhi, or union, in some of the oldest written references to the word yoga Nidra, the ultimate aim of the eightfold path.
Is easy to incorporate into your daily life
It can be difficult to try to clear the mind, bring consciousness back to the breath, or find inspiration to concentrate to sit and meditate. Yoga Nidra is always driven, so there’s no deep thought or wondering why a blank wall is staring at you. A practice of yoga Nidra can be as brief as five minutes and as long as an hour. You can find that making it part of your everyday bedtime routine is the best way to accommodate a yoga Nidra exercise. Put on your headphones, practice in your bed right away, and then drift off to sleep. Even if this isn’t the most traditional way to do yoga Nidra, if you’re going to lie down anyway, you have no reason not to do it.
It provides the ability to learn about yourself
Some people crave the deep relaxation, while other practitioners use the non-judgmental and safe environment offered by yoga Nidra as a window into themselves. Yoga Nidra provides a place to discuss what you need at the moment, as well as a chance to focus on releasing long-held feelings. You can encounter an emotion during yoga Nidra and come “face to face” with what you want to conquer, without fully “diving into it,” meaning without experiencing the emotion so fully that you become overwhelmed. You begin to experience the feelings and related emotions over time, going further into the work.
You cannot incorrectly practice it
All you have to do as you lie down, helped by savasana, is obey the voice that directs you. It is possible that some aspects of the meditation will be recalled more than others. You encounter a new experience every time you arrive at the practice, none of which is incorrect. It’s also okay to fall asleep since you’ll always reap benefits as the unconscious mind absorbs the practice.
Nidra Yoga is a peaceful activity
It’s a practice that is deceptively easy. Since yoga Nidra is most frequently taught lying down, it appeals to people who may feel overwhelmed by conventional sitting meditation or yoga postures. It is possible to implement and practice a short version of Yoga Nidra in less than 10 minutes. Yet it’s different components, taken together and frequently practiced, make up a complex collection of mind-body instruments that can help practitioners overcome some of the hardest moments in life.
An instructor guides practitioners through many stages in a typical yoga Nidra session. You begin with the creation of a purpose for your life and practice. You then learn to concentrate your mind on your breath, body sensations, feelings, and thoughts. You are encouraged throughout to tap into an always-existing underlying sense of peace and foster “witness consciousness,” witnessing and accepting whatever is existing without getting swept up in it.
This is a simple way to relieve tension.
In your average meditation practice, Yoga Nidra encourages deep rest and relaxation that is not found. To relax the nervous system, the phases of body scanning and breath awareness alone can be practiced, leading to less tension and improved health.
How to practice Yoga Nindra
Getting Started: By placing a bolster lengthwise on your mat and slipping a block under the top end, set up your Yoga Nidra practice room. Lie down on the mat with your sitting bones and the bolster that supports you from the lower back to the head. Place underneath your head a folded blanket. Note and welcome, as well as color and light, sounds, smells, and taste. Release excess stress in your body and know like your whole body and mind are spreading a feeling of calm (9).
- Define your intentions. Bring your heart’s deepest wish to mind, something that you want in life more than anything else. Maybe it’s an urge for well-being, fitness, or awakening. With your entire body, experience this heartfelt desire while imagining and feeling it at this moment as though it were real.
- Set a Purpose. Today, focus on your reason for your practice. It may be to relax and rest or to explore a specific feeling, emotion, or belief. Whatever your purpose, with your whole body and mind, welcome and affirm it.
- Find Your Resource Inside. Pay attention to your Inner resource, a safe refuge in your body where feelings of safety, well-being, and calm are encountered. You can imagine a place, person, or experience that makes you feel safe and relaxed, and that makes you feel a sense of well-being inside your body. At any time during your practice or in everyday life, re-experience your Inner Resource when you feel overwhelmed by an emotion, feeling, or life situation and want to feel relaxed and comfortable.
- Scan your body. Shift your consciousness progressively across your body. Make sense of your chin, your mouth, your ears, your nose, your eyes. Feel your brow, your scalp, your spine, and the inside of your throat. Scan your focus through your left arm and your left palm, your right arm, and your right palm, and then simultaneously through both arms and hands. You can feel the torso, the pelvis, and the sacrum. Experience sensations in your left hip, your thigh, your foot, your right hip, your right leg, your right foot. Since the whole of your body is a radiant sensation field.
- Become aware of your breath. Since the body breathes on its own. Observe with each intake the normal flow of air in the nostrils, throat, and rib cage, as well as the rise and fall of the abdomen. Feel each breath circulating across your entire body as flowing energy.
- Welcome the feelings. Welcome the sensations (such as heaviness, discomfort, or warmth) and emotions (such as sorrow, rage, or worry) present in your body and mind without judging or attempting to alter something. Also, note opposite sensations and emotions: call up feelings of serenity if you feel worried; experience ease if you feel stressed. Sense within your body each feeling and its opposite.
- Witness your emotions. Note the emotions, memories, and pictures that are present in your mind and welcome them. Without criticizing them or attempting to alter them, observe your emotions.
- Joy’s insight. Welcome feelings of joy, well-being, or bliss that emanate from your heart or stomach and spread across your body and into your surrounding space. Experience feelings of fire, pleasure, and well-being radiating throughout the body with every exhalation.
- Just observe yourself. Be conscious of your “I-ness,” or personality sense. When you say “I’m hungry,” “I’m upset,” or “I’m happy,” you note this sense of identification. Then, perceive yourself as an observing witness or consciousness who recognizes these emotions. Put away thought and dissolve into perception, awakening, and self-consciousness.
- Consider Your Practice. Reflect on the path you’ve just taken as you complete your practice. Affirm how the sense of pure Being, or pure Consciousness, is still present as a sublime, unchanging peace that underlies all evolving circumstances. Imagine incorporating that sensation, in both fun and challenging times, into your daily life, and always reconnecting to that sense of equanimity.
Important things to consider when practicing Yoga Nindra
- When you are in Nidra, it is only normal to have random thoughts and be disturbed by them. You don’t suppress them. Also, if you fall asleep during practice, do not feel guilty.
- Before you begin to practice, play some gentle music, either soft chants or instrumental music. That’s going to make you relax. But this is not a must, because you’re going to relax to your own inner rhythm eventually.
- After a few minutes, don’t miss the step of turning on your right and sitting up. It lets your breath flow through the left nostril when you are on the right side, and hence, your body cools down.
Yoga Nidra, created by Swami Satyananda Saraswati, is a strong technique through which you learn to actively relax. When the consciousness is removed from the external experience (sense organs) and from sleep, the state of relaxation can be achieved, then the mind becomes quiet and very solid.