Written by NORINA MERKABAH on
In my opinion, Yoga Nidra is one of the biggest gifts to the modern world. It is a systematical approach that relaxes the entire being. In a fast paced society, the need for effective relaxation is huge. Yoga Nidra can be done anywhere, anytime. The same practice never leads to the same experience. In this post, I will explain a bit further what happens during Yoga Nidra, and why it is such an effective technique. As every Yoga practice, it develops over time and benefits from regularity and sincerity. I hope you are curious by now.
Yoga Nidra literally means “conscious sleep”; consciousness stays awake while the body and other parts of the mind experience deep rest. Yoga Nidra is a guided meditation and a most efficient technique to achieve deep relaxation.
One reason why everybody loves Yoga Nidra is because it requires zero effort. The technique is done in Shavasana, lying on the back. Cushions & blankets are allowed to be comfortable throughout. The practice takes 20 – 25 minutes.
= LINK TO YOGA PHILOSPHY =
The Yoga Nidra technique works its way systematically through the different layers of our being. In Yoga, we call these layers or sheaths “Koshas”. The body is a gross layer, whereas the breath & the mind are more subtle. Yoga Nidra relaxes the physical body (Annamaya Kosha), recharges the energy body (Pranamaya Kosha) & helps release tension from the mind (Manomaya Kosha) & psyche or subconscious (Vijnanamaya Kosha). Eventually we experience pure presence or bliss (Anandamaya Kosha). Just as tension is stored & experienced on different levels of our being, so is relaxation & tension release. Do you remember when you last were in a stressful emotional situation? Very likely you experienced emotional distress, worrying thoughts & tight shoulders or an upset stomach. Take any situation really to see how intertwined the layers of our being are. Relaxation ideally targets multiple layers of our being in order to be most efficient.
= YOGA NIDRA AS A FORM OF MEDITATION =
Yoga Nidra as a form of meditation develops over time. In the beginning, people often fall asleep as their bodies need deep rest. That is ok. As with other Yoga practices, we don’t always get what we expect but we always get what we need. Staying aware and awake throughout the meditation is the intention but takes practice. It is recommended to do Yoga Nidra daily, as a ritual, either before lunch, as a transition after work or before bed. In the induced state between wakefulness and sleep, impressions come up (Samskara in Sanskrit). The subconscious mind stores impressions from childhood and from our daily life away, especially when we don’t have time to process a moment fully. In Yoga Nidra, we “open the box” so to speak. We create a safe space for some of the impressions to come up, to be seen and acknowledged and released. It is common that you drift off during the meditation. The guidance of the voice is here to continuously bring you back to the moment.
= HOW TO ENSURE QUALITY =
Yoga Nidra should be introduced by a qualified and experienced Yoga Teacher. Opening the deeper layers of the mind and releasing impressions is a vulnerable and most powerful state. Make sure that your Teacher has a distinguished understanding of Yoga Nidra. Practicing Yoga Nidra according to the Yogic Tradition is a great way to ensure that you get high quality relaxation with a solid framework around it. Ask your teacher about their training background! Once you are familiar with the technique you can use audio recordings for self-practice at home. However, I recommend to continue to work with a Teacher and to go deeper over time. Journalling is a practice that complements Yoga Nidra when pursued as a form of meditation to gain more insight into one’s patterns.
= HEALTH BENEFITS =
I recommend Yoga Nidra to everyone. Yoga Nidra is one of the most profound and effective relaxation techniques. It is great to see that research is catching up on the multiple health benefits of Yoga Nidra. It is beneficial for conditions such as PTSD, anxiety, obesity, chronic fatigue, burnout, PMS and any stress related conditions. Its health benefits are not limited to mental or physical health as these two are intertwined and Yoga Nidra targets all layers of our health. The Yoga Nidra Network provides academic research results. Visit their homepage to read more.
= RESOURCES =
I trained over 150 hours in Yoga Nidra and Restorative Yoga at Kawai Purapura Yoga School. I have been teaching Yoga Nidra online and in person for over two years now. You can email me for private or group classes.
You find a beautiful album with 4 different Yoga Nidra in all online stores. Choose from 15 to 30 minutes relaxation.
Kawai Purapura Yoga School and Anahata Yoga Retreat in New Zealand offer regular training courses in Yoga Nidra. Visit their website for more information.
“Yoga Nidra” by Swami Satyananda Saraswati (Yoga Publications Trust, Munger, India) is the core text for traditional Yoga Nidra and the foundation for what I teach.
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