“Oh my god….! I love yoga nidra”
“Sorry, you love yoga what?“
That’s what a recent conversation looked like the other week when I started to confess my undying love for yoga nidra.
Yoga nidra is such an incredibly powerful relaxation technique, and although it is well-known throughout India, so few people in the Western world have heard of it. I hope to change that.
I will try to keep this as short and succinct as possible, as there is so much I could say about nidra … but let’s start with a bit of background…
Yoga nidra is a simple yet profound technique adapted from the traditional tantric practice of nyasa (the practice of placing your attention on something). This practice has been utilised in India for more than 6000 years and for many purposes, including (but not limited to):
- to enter deep relaxation,
- for stress management,
- to enhance the learning process in education,
- to restore and revitalise the body,
- to awaken inner potential, and
- as a meditative technique.
The practice is described it as ‘a systematic method of inducing mental, emotional and physical relaxation’.
Yoga nidra is a technique where you learn to relax consciously, and ‘consciously’ is the key word. So often, when we choose to relax, we do so by ‘shutting off’. We slump on the couch, medicating with food, alcohol or Netflix and then when we’re suitably tired, we make our way to bed. The night goes by, of which we are mostly blissfully unaware, and more often than not, we wake up feeling a little bit groggy.
However, in nidra, they believe that for absolute relaxation, you must remain aware, in a state of dynamic sleep. That’s why yoga nidra is not a form of sleep – instead, it is a practice you do during the day in order to reach a state of relaxation that is only achieved by turning inwards and away from our outer experiences.
Where your body sleeps but your mind remains awake
In yoga nidra, often known as yogic sleep, your consciousness hovers in a state between wakefulness and sleep. It is believed that the practice of yoga nidra enables you to receive intuitions from the unconscious mind, that the intuitions received in yoga nidra enable one to find, within themselves, the answers to all problems.
All the technical bits aside – I can tell you from my own experience and the experience of those I know, it just feels so damn good.
The beauty of yoga nidra is that you are encouraged to lie down somewhere you are comfortable, ensuring you are warm and secure. There is no need for any uncomfortable meditation positions – you merely relax in Savasana (pronounced Shavasana); on your back, arms and legs relaxed out to the sides [see image below]. Once comfortable, your yoga teacher will then talk you through the relaxation process, encouraging you to consciously relax each part of your body – right down to your fingers and toes. You are encouraged to not try and force anything – you simply follow the practitioners instructions.
More commonly, yoga nidra sessions last between 50 minutes to 1 hour, but can be shorter at 30 minutes, where needed. That said, 50 minutes to 1 hour is my preferred length to ensure optimal relaxation.
During this hour, depending on the nidra practice followed during that session, your teacher will take you on a journey. Such journeys include walking through temples or bathing in glorious streams. It is genuinely one of the most relaxing practices I have ever encountered.
Why yoga nidra is needed now, more than ever
We all live such full and hectic lives. Even during lockdown, many of us have found ourselves painfully busy and stressed. My days fly by so quickly now, I find myself wondering how on earth I previously managed a 3 hour commute each day. So many of us would love to commit to a consistent yoga practice or a consistent meditation practice, but more often than not – this idea gets bumped to the back of the list each time something more pressing and urgent appears. I know that feeling – that has often been my experience.
However, where so many might resist meditation because of a struggle with quieting the mind or an inability to sit upright without pain, yoga nidra can offer a complimentary practice that can be used to get into a deep state of relaxation. During this state, your body is able to fully relax and although your mind remains awake – it is in such a state of blissful relaxation, you can allow your mind to fully open (in the best way possible).
If we continue to constantly push ourselves more and more, without giving our minds and body’s time to relax and heal, overtime our wellbeing will become eroded. Since I started practicing Nidra regularly, I have noticed a difference in my energy levels, my ability to think, as well as my general sense of wellbeing
If you’re not convinced already, I invite you to try it out! You never know until you try and, trust me, you won’t regret it. Discovering yoga nidra is one of the best things I have ever done and I am looking forward to bringing this joy into the lives of those around me.
I am excited to roll this out across the Zoom world!
Once a week, I will be conducting a yoga nidra session via Zoom – tickets can be found here, on Eventbrite. The beauty of Zoom is that this can be offered at a much lower cost than if we needed to hire a venue, and you can relax in the comfort of your own home. Each session will be slightly different, with a new nidra journey for the students to follow. You will love it!
Get in touch if you have any questions or if you’d like to purchase a discounted bulk offer for 6 or 12 session passes.