Imagine floating through calm seas as if you were weightless. Imagine yourself hovering somewhere in that state of conscious awareness just before you fall asleep – Yoga Nidra is all about that experience of complete physical surrender and ultimate relaxation.
Yogic Sleep is another name for Yoga Nidra (pronounced yoh-gah nee-drah). Guided meditation facilitates and induces an ancient yogic practice of healing and calm. The goal is to relax your mind as you advance through the successive brainwave states, in which there is naturally less and less thought, until you reach a very deep state of awareness. Body-breath awareness practices are utilized to assist us in moving from the thinking mind to the experiencing body, allowing us to fall into a deeply relaxed state of being. When we go to bed at night, our bodies do this naturally, but Yoga Nidra mixes the deep relaxation of sleep with a level of attentive consciousness.
The goal of Yoga Nidra isn't just to acquire a higher level of awareness. The practice unblocks the channels (or nadis) through which prana (energy) flows through us by reaching the pranamaya kosha (energy sheath) through the breath. The body's ability to heal itself is dependent on the free passage of prana through it.
Yoga Nidra sessions typically last 15 to 1 hour, however skilled practitioners have been known to practice for much longer. According to several studies, one hour of Nidra is equivalent to several hours of regular sleep. Because Yoga Nidra is such a specialized kind of meditation, not all yoga teachers are prepared to lead it, so sessions must be led by a Yoga Nidra guide (like me!)
YOGA NIDRA BENEFITS
This method of deep relaxation induces a state of mind that is somewhere between alert and sleepy for the practitioner. It relieves physical stress and slows the breath, which causes the heartbeat to settle down, resulting in a tranquil body and mind. After an asana class, the advantages are amplified because it helps to cool and manage the body's natural temperature while also preserving energy from the movement activity. It also relieves tension across the entire anatomical system.
Many benefits have been claimed by practitioners after practicing Yoga Nidra on a regular basis, according to study conducted by clinical psychologist and yogic researcher Richard Miller, PhD, of The Integrative Restorative Institute (iRest):
Anxiety and tension are reduced.
Better, less disrupted sleep and fewer insomnia symptoms
In some cases of persistent pain, relief may be possible.
A brighter, more optimistic view
The ability to stay concentrated has improved.
Emotional balance is restored.
HOW DO I KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT?
During the Yoga Nidra session, the following phases are traditionally used in order:
1: Get Your Body Ready for Relaxation - Settling down.
In savasana pose, Yoga Nidra is usually practiced. You can do it on your side or seated too!
Savasana: Place your arms away from your body, palms facing up, while lying on your back. The space between your feet should be around hip-width apart. Allow the toes to slide out to the side.
If you're having trouble with your lower back, try putting a bolster, pillow, or rolled-up yoga mat under your knees to help release those muscles.
2: The Sankalpa Is Introduced
It's a good idea to create a positive intention, also known as Sankalpa, before you begin in earnest. Although there is an art to making a good Sankalpa, repeating it helps to root the affirmation in the practitioner's mind.
3: Become aware of your body
Following that, you may be asked to concentrate on the points of touch with the back of the body. A full guided body scan is frequently used, in which you are encouraged to focus on each specific body area for a time before moving on to the next. This can also be accomplished by tensing each body part individually and then totally releasing it.
4: Be Aware of Your Breath
Your guide will frequently begin the practice by asking you to listen for any distant sounds, such as those outside the room. Then it's on to listening to the sounds in the room. Following that, you'll be instructed to pay attention to the sound of your own breath.
It's also typical to be given a number to count back from and told that if you lose track, just start over. A scene of tranquil, natural beauty is frequently suggested, as is an instruction to envision energy or light moving through the body. There may be space for some silence too.
Step 6 – The Sankalpa is recited again.
Just before you go into deep relaxation and at the end of this portion of the practice, you will be reminded to bring your consciousness to your Sankalpa.
7: Coming back to a Normal State
You will often be taken back up through the layers of consciousness at the end of the session, bringing your awareness back to your breath, sounds, and body before the session ends.
A QUICK AT-HOME INSTRUCTION
Now is an excellent time to give Yoga Nidra a try in the privacy of your own home.
Here's a quick rundown of how to get the most out of your Yoga Nidra practice at home:
Choose from a free Yoga Nidra on the Insight Timer app where I have uploaded a number of them. https://insighttimer.com/anandacentre
See the Ananda Centre schedule for details and registration - https://www.anandacentre.com/schedule
- Turn off your phone and find a peaceful spot in your house where you won't be disturbed.
- Place your yoga mat on the floor and lie down in savasana. Use lots of pillows and blankets for support. Do it in bed either.
- Make sure you're warm enough, or that you will be, because your body will begin to cool down significantly. It's also crucial to make sure you're feeling symmetrical and that you're able to keep still for the duration of the practice. (It is ok to make any adjustments if you are in pain in a pose too thought).
- Follow the directions by closing your eyes or having your gaze soft
Want to find out more and experience it for yourself?
Sign up for the monthly Rest session it's at 8.30pm - 9.30pmIST one Sunday a month - just in time to get cosy and set up for the week ahead.