What is Yoga Nidra?
The translation here is “Yoga Sleep”. There is no doubt that this is not only a relaxation technique, but I would also say this is the premiere relaxation technique. Personally, I have been practicing yoga for 40 years and I have never seen a type of yoga practice, or any practice and/or endeavor, that offers the relaxation benefits that Yoga Nidra does.
You could also categorize this practice as a meditation, or you could call it Yoga Nidra sleep meditation. Ultimately, all yoga practices are meditation practices, yet in many of the physical practices, you can avoid the meditative component by getting caught up with the scale of the physical practice or being caught up with distractions. Yet, this is not possible with yoga sleep.
Yoga Nidra meditation is the necessity of piercing focus as distractions will not allow this practice to happen. This piercing focus, or “paying attention”, is the first step in all mediations. Therefore, many benefits of meditation will also be experienced when practicing yoga sleep. Yet, the emphasis here is on relaxation and boy, does it work.
Benefits of Yoga Nidra
Yoga Nidra's benefits include effectiveness in relaxation as this practice is an invaluable aid in coping with insomnia, anxiety, and the multiplicity of stress-induced ailments. Some may even call this Yoga Nidra sleep meditation as falling asleep during this practice is probably its most common side effect.
This practice can be performed by yourself, applied to yourself, or you may participate in a guided Yoga Nidra private or group class. Guided classes are recommended initially, yet once you get the gist of things, you can use this technique on yourself anytime and anywhere.
The benefits of Yoga Nidra is deep relaxation (which it certainly achieves), stress reduction, and so much more. Relaxation is the opposite of stress, which seems to be the causation of most diseases. Although this is a physically inactive practice, I would say this practice is invaluable towards one’s physical wellbeing. As a matter of fact, knowing what we know now about diseases and their causation, it would be irresponsible not to partake in stress reduction practices when designing for yourself a health and wellness regime. Again, this is the ultimate stress reduction practice.
So, how does it work? What does Yoga Nidra sleep meditation entail?
Firstly, I would say that ultimately when performing this you don’t want to fall asleep unless that’s your objective. Falling asleep obviously puts an end to this practice, at least temporarily. But if you do fall asleep it’s usually a nice, deep and effective sleep. Sleep is also a by-product of meditation. This is why the traditional meditation is seated. When seated, it’s more difficult to fall asleep than opposed to lying on one’s back.
Yoga Nidra is performed lying on your back and moving incrementally from your head to your toes and then back again from toes to head and then again for the duration of the time allotted. This involves usually moving in 5 to 10-inch patches of flesh. Spending a few moments on each patch feeling or visualizing that particular area of body mass softening, relaxing, melting, etc…The engagement of one’s mind combined with the effectiveness of one’s intention creates the ultimate scenario for letting go. The internal dialogue dissipates, the mind empties and a rare quietness is achieved.
Yoga sleep will vary somewhat in its practice from instructor to instructor. Some may play music, while others simply use their resonate voice. We have two different Yoga Nidra instructors at poweryoga.com who offer a few different class lengths and styles. We even offer a free class.
I like to call this type of practice fitness 201 as the next step in Western fitness will be addressing our mental state, the well source of all well-being.