Some may have heard the term Yoga Nidra in passing during a yoga class or perhaps read it in a yoga book. Yoga nidra also known as “yogic sleep” is a form of meditation and conscious relaxation.
But why is yoga nidra gaining so much popularity? Let’s take a look.
In Rishikesh, India, during our 100 hr Ashtanga Yoga Teacher training, we would await the hour in excitement for the yoga nidra to begin. We would gather blankets and pillows and wrap ourselves up i
n a little cocoon of heat, since Northern India in January can be quite cold, especially since they had no heat anywhere. Five o’clock arrives and we are like little children waiting for story time. Everyone is wrapped up, warm and ready to be lulled to sleep with the soothing voice of Yogi Upendra Ji.
During a yoga nidra meditation, they guide you through focused attention on different body parts, relaxing the muscles and coming to tranquil state of being. Sometimes one falls asleep during the meditation, which is never a problem, as your subconscious is still listening to the guided instructions. Other times, one comes to an in between stage, sort of like a hypnotic state, where you are halfway between sleep and being awake. This is a place where you are aware that you are dreaming.
Yoga nidra is intended to bring about physical, emotional and mental relaxation. There are many health benefits that go along with yoga nidra as with any other guided meditation. Yoga nidra helps with insomnia by allowing your body to fully relax and let go of tension. This is also a direct correlation to anxiety and stress, which yoga nidra helps with.
Tanis Fisherman states “Yoga nidra is an effective and efficient way to access the “rest and digest” parasympathetic state, which is where healing happens.”
Yoga nidra also heightens awareness and focus and can help alleviate negative behaviours and habits. By practicing being in the present moment, engaging in body awareness, one builds up the capacity to live more and more in the present moment. If you think about it most of our troubles lie in the past and future of thought. Why things didn’t’ work out a certain way or why that person did that to me or thinking about a future you want or don’t want. When one truly lives in the present moment, accepting what is at that particular second, it brings about peace and joy. In no way should a person not think about the past or future, but when we live too much in that space and attach ourselves to the experiences, we are not fully living life.
As Dr.Joe Dispenza says
“Meditation is about letting go, being open, being curious enough to seek out the divine- without any expectations or forcing outcomes.”
So during a yoga nidra it is important to let go and allow for whatever experience to happen as it does.
The steps during a yoga nidra involves setting up an intention, body awareness, breath awareness, emotional awareness and visualization that help you transition into that intense relaxed state, which helps you feel so rested afterwards.
Yoga nidra can be practiced in the comfort of your home, lying down is best, all while allowing yourself to fully be present for the instructions without any outside distractions.
So now you have a little more knowledge and understanding about what yoga nidra is and why it is so beneficial for you. But you will only know the true benefits of this ancient practice by actually taking part. So try a yoga nidra at a yoga studio or download a version off youtube.
Enjoy, and may it bring you peace and relaxation!