“In Yoga Nidra the body sleeps, the mind rests and the consciousness is active” – Swami Satyananda. Yoga nidra comes from nyasa meditation – this means to place or set in something, in this case to visualise each different body part (e.g. leg, foot, arm, etc.,) in a particular order.
There are eight stages to Yoga nidra, usually in a set order, but you may not always practice the full eight stages, especially if you are new to this practice, you will gradually begin the stages, and after sometime this could even be one or two years or so, complete the full eight stages. Most Yoga students are initially introduced to Yoga nidra via their own teacher at the end of the yoga session. Alternatively some people find a CD that helps them to start the process.
1. Preparation – settling into the stillness (Savasana)
2. Sankalpa – an intention
3. Awareness of the body
4. Breath awareness
5. Pairs of opposites
8. Externalisation – returning fully back with awareness
What helps a good Yoga nidra practice?
1. Clothing, loose and comfortable
2. Environment, try and practice the same time of day, with no interruptions
3. Timing – not immediately after a meal, maybe when you feel a little tired
4. Preparation – after the physical asana class (not before)
Yoga Nidra means yogic sleep, not literally falling sleep, simply meaning to withdraw the senses (pratyahara) observe what is happening and not react or become involved. The body remains still, yet the mind is mindfully alert and aware of instructions. In psychology, the state achieved in yoga nidra is termed the hypnagogic state, a state between sleep and wakefulness.
It was Swami Satyananda who developed the modern day Yoga Nidra, it was an ancient yoga practice that involved connecting deeper with your consciousness whilst at the same time letting go of outside distractions, an undisturbed awareness comes along. It is practised gradually under the guidance of a trained Yoga Nidra practitioner, someone who also has experience of regular practice of yoga nidra.
Swami Satyananda has made this Yoga nidra technique accessible to modern day practitioners and it can be practised by anybody in the world, as mentioned a form of pratyahara (one of the limbs of Yoga) and provides tremendous benefits for the body, brain and mind.
To find out about the benefits of Yoga Nidra read this post.
Yoga Nidra sessions are regularly taught within our Yoga Workshops and Restorative Yoga sessions.
Yoga teacher trainees will also experience the benefits of a regular yoga nidra practice with their course leader during the Yoga Teacher Training Programmes.