Yoga Nidra is a state of deep relaxation in between sleeping and waking. It is practised lying down, using verbal cues to maintain a state of consciousness. The Yoga Nidra technique enables you to remain aware while you enter into the dream and sleeping states of consciousness. The state of Yoga Nidra occurs when you can remain conscious during the deep sleep state (called prajna in the Mandukya Upanishad). It is often referred to as Yogic Sleep and just thirty minutes is believed to be as beneficial as sleeping for several hours.
An essential part of Yoga Nidra is the internal work of intention setting. In Sanskrit, this is called a Sankalpa. A Sankalpa is an intention formed by the heart and mind, a solemn vow, determination, or will. To put it practically, a Sankalpa is a one-pointed resolve to focus both psychologically and philosophically on a specific goal. Being in this state ‘yogic sleep’ enhances the power of the Sankalpa and strengthens the potential to experience exalted states of higher consciousness.
Relaxation props are useful, such as blankets, eye pillows and a bolster to be as comfortable as possible. Falling asleep is very common in Yoga Nidra and it can take practitioners many hours of practice to achieve the balanced state in between.
If you’d like to try Yoga Nidra at home, you can find guided videos online. Cora Geroux from Slow Yoga and Yoga Sivana has one we would recommend here: Yoga Nidra
Be open to what the experience can offer you and have as many props as you need to support your body, such as a blanket for warmth and an eye pillow to prevent your eyes from flickering. To get started, lie down somewhere that is quiet and well-ventilated. On a yoga mat is preferred instead of a bed, as your body and mind will subconsciously associate a bed with going to sleep, instead of meditation.
Get comfortable and place an eye mask or a soft cloth over your eyes. Ensure you won’t be disturbed for at least 30 minutes. Play your chosen audio and get ready to fall into the blissful state of Yoga Nidra.
Origins: Swami Satyananda formulated the basis of this technique while serving as a disciple of his guru, the yoga master Swami Sivananda, in Rishikesh, India during the 1940s and early 1950s. Swami Satyananda describes how, as a young student, he fell asleep while a nearby group of people chanted mantras – many of which he had not heard before. Even though he was deeply asleep during the chanting, when he awoke and heard these mantras again, he seemed to know them. A yogi explained to Swami Satyananda that his subtle body had heard the mantras.
If you are reading this because you are having issues with sleep and looking for something more comprehensive, take a look at Kamalaya’s Sleep Enhancement Program here: www.kamalaya.com/sleep-enhancement-wellness-program.htm
Authors: Jade Hunter & Liz Bonney