Yoga Nidra, also known as “yogic sleep,” is the waking experience of deep sleep. It is a powerful meditation technique that involves relaxation and mindfulness. It is believed to bring about a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping, where the body is completely relaxed, and the mind is alert.
The understanding of deep sleep in the light of this practice is very important. This is because the vast majority of people misunderstand deep sleep. What this practice reveals via experience is that instead of deep sleep being the absence of experience, which is what most people think, it is actually the experience of absence. This is huge because it means that it is possible to experience your absence while remaining present; in turn, this experience means that you access a deeper level of knowing via this practice.
The practice of Yoga Nidra has been around for centuries and is an integral part of the yoga tradition. It is often used as a way to relax the body and mind, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve sleep. However, it can also be used as a tool for personal growth, self-realization, and spiritual awakening as it helps to cultivate a deeper awareness of the self beyond the thinking mind, an understanding of the world around us, and, although it is a form of sleep, it is actually a time-tested means to be awake to the true nature of being.
To practice Yoga Nidra, you will need to find a comfortable and quiet place to lie down or sit. You can use a blanket or cushion to support your body, and it is helpful to cover your eyes with a cloth or eye pillow to block out external distractions.
Once you are comfortable and settled, you can begin the practice by taking a few deep breaths and focusing on your breath. This will help to calm the mind and bring your attention inward. From there, you can guide yourself through a series of relaxation techniques and visualization exercises, such as body scans, breath awareness, and positive affirmations.
One of the key components of Yoga Nidra is the “sankalpa,” or resolution. Common sankalpas include:
- May I be at peace and free from suffering.
- May I be kind, compassionate and loving.
- May I be free from fear and find inner strength.
- May I be healthy and happy.
- May I be free from attachment and find contentment.
- May I find clarity and inner wisdom.
- May I be filled with self-love and acceptance.
- May I be open to new possibilities and experiences.
- May I be open to change and find balance in my life.
- May I be free to live my truth and be who I truly am.
Your sankalpa is a positive statement of intention that you make to yourself during the practice, such as the ones listed above. It serves as a guiding principle that helps to focus the mind and align your actions with your values.
As you progress through the practice, you may begin to feel a sense of detachment from your thoughts and emotions. This is known as “turiya,” or the fourth state of consciousness [before deep sleep, dreaming and waking]. It is the realm of pure awareness and inner stillness that is described by practitioners as a deep sense of peace, clarity and profound insight.
It is important to note that this practice is not a replacement for sleep, but rather a complement to it. It can be practised at any time of day, but it is especially effective when done before bed as it can help to relax the mind and body, making it easier to fall asleep and lucid dream.
How to Practice Yoga Nidra
There are many different approaches to this meditative practise – here is a general outline of the steps involved:
- Find a comfortable position: It is important to choose a position that is comfortable and allows the body to relax completely. This could be lying down, sitting, or even standing.
- Close the eyes: Closing the eyes can help to block out external distractions and allow the mind to focus inward.
- Take slow, deep breaths: Taking slow, deep breaths can help to relax the body and calm the mind.
- Relax the body: Begin by focusing on the toes and work your way up the body, intentionally relaxing each muscle group.
- Practice visualization: Visualize a peaceful scene or object, such as a beach or a flower, and focus on the details of the visualization.
- Repeat a mantra: Choose a word or phrase that has personal meaning and repeat it to yourself silently as you focus on the breath.
- Return to the present moment: As thoughts or distractions arise, gently acknowledge them and then return the focus to the breath and the mantra.
In this Light…
Yoga Nidra is a powerful meditation technique that is often referred to as “yogic sleep”. It is a guided meditation that leads you into a profound meditative state, allowing you to relax and release any physical, mental, and emotional tensions and to access another way of knowing.
The practice is said to help reduce stress, improve sleep, and increase overall wellbeing. During the practice, you will be guided to focus your awareness on your breath, then move through your body to mentally scan and relax each area. As you progress deeper into the practice, you will be guided to explore your inner awareness and accept whatever arises. Finally, you will be led through a process of setting intentions to help you focus on what you want to manifest in your life.
Whether you are new to meditation or an experienced practitioner, Yoga Nidra is a practice that can benefit people of all ages and levels of ability.