Yoga Nidra is an ancient practice that originates in India. Mostly documented in Sankhya philosophy which is one of the oldest philosophies of Sanathana Dharma (or in laymen’s terms, Hinduism). Yoga Nidra or yogic sleep is also mentioned in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and in Advaita Vedanta, among other books and philosophies.
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What is Yoga Nidra?
Yoga Nidra is conscious creation. It is the practice of a relaxed state of being used to enhance one’s conscious awareness, understanding, and healing. A person is placed in this state through a guided meditation.
Although it is considered somewhat of a meditation, it really is not. In meditation, we are trying to quiet the mind and listen to the stillness. I
n Yoga Nidra, we are trying to get into a state that enhances our awareness about what we need to resolve at the subconscious level. This state allows us to engage the heart, which is our seat of consciousness. The subtle worlds are then triggered to move the subtle energies to create our experiences in the physical world.
While listening to the guide, a person will relax the mind and the body and surrender to what exists beyond.
In the state of Yoga Nidra, you are in-between sleep and wakefulness. Yoga Nidra is often referred to as yogic sleep. However, be very clear that sleep is not the goal of this practice.
What is the Purpose of Yoga Nidra?
The practice is said to provide for enhanced consciousness and awareness. Unlike popular belief that Yoga Nidra is a sleep meditation, the truth is that it is not. The goal of Yoga Nidra is not to place you in a relaxed state to fall asleep.
Although, sleep is a secondary benefit gained from this practice this is not the intention of this practice. Yoga Nidra is more powerful than putting you to bed. The main goal of Yoga Nidra is to receive knowledge of our truest selves and to use that knowledge to heal our minds and body. Let’s break this down further.
How do You Practice Yoga Nidra?
A guide will take you through about 45 minutes of relaxation, entering a deep state of consciousness and reciting your sankalpa. All of this while you are fully awake and aware of the process.
The guide will usually start you off with relaxing your breath, and then moving your focus to different parts of your body with the intention of relaxing them. Starting with your fingers, palms, hands until your whole body is placed in a relaxed state.
You will then be asked to allow prana (life force energy) to flow through your body while you use your mind to heal your samskaras and physical ailments. In the state of Yoga Nidra, you are healing both your psychological and physical worlds.
Where do I find a Yoga Nidra Script or Guide?
Okay so this is an easy one – the Internet. It is not necessary for you to go to a yoga studio to find a guide that you visit every day to guide you through this practice. The most popular place to find free guided Yoga Nidra recordings is YouTube. Look for one that resonates with you. I use the video below, which provides the best perspective of the practice without diluting its truest meaning.
What is Sankalpa?
Again, unlike popular belief, this is not simply an intention. In Advaita Vendata, it is the power of thought. It is what is used in many ways, one of them being in Yoga Nidra to create a vision of yourself, for yourself, of that which you want to experience in your world. It can be anything you want to create such as wellness, health, the perfect dharma/act of service, a blissful relationship, connection to divine, or whatever else you want to experience in this lifetime.
Who can Practice Yoga Nidra?
This is an easy one – everyone. The practice, especially since it is done in savasana pose – can be practiced by children and adults alike. Even older folk who are bedridden or find it difficult to move can actually use this practice to heal their bodies. Of course, if they have the faith and the gumption to practice this every day without fail. And another caveat is to check with your doctor first before engaging in ay practice.
What do I need to Prepare for Yoga Nidra?
These are the items that you will require to create space for this practice without any distractions:
- Get yourself settled in a quiet room. Have enough space to lay down flat in savasana pose – you can do this on your bed too.
- Put a pillow behind your head for extra comfort if you need it.
- Cover yourself with a blanket or shawl so that your body stays warm.
- Make sure you use the bathroom before you start so you are not disturbed during the practice.
- Set your sankalpa before you start.
- Make sure you have at least 45 minutes of no disturbance.
What is the Best Time to Practice Yoga Nidra?
The best times for the practice are
- at the start of your day, when you have come out of sleep. We are not fully awake when our bodies wake up, so this space is where we can allow our subconscious to hear our sankalpa.
- The second best time is before we go to sleep when we are in the state of reduced thoughts (hopefully), and ready to relax our bodies.
- And lastly, we can practice yogic sleep about 1 hour after lunchtime where our digestion is almost complete and the body is in a state of rest.
Related: Marma Mat and Its Benefits
Honor your body and mind with the practice of Yoga Nidra. This ancient Indian practice has been more prevalent in the West in the last 10 years. While increasing in popularity, it is important that we do not lose the true meaning and intention behind why this practice exists. With consistent practice, Yoga Nidra can help relieve you from physical and mental strain, bring to life your deepest sankalpas and help you erase and free yourself from the threads of karma that bind you to the life’s sufferings.
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