“Yoga Nidra can be understood as a total practice of yoga itself… a state of ‘awakened sleep’ … in this state (we encounter) auto-suggestive experience of the power of the unconscious mind and its linkage with the soul.” – Sri Ram Sharam Acharya.
What is Yoga Nidra?
The word ‘nidra’ translates as ‘sleep’, hence the term ‘yogic sleep’. Put simply, Yoga Nidra can be described as a form of meditation, though it is not so much a practice or technique as a state of being. It can be seen as an altered state of consciousness – neither being asleep or awake, but a state in-between. Sometimes, Yoga Nidra is referred to as ‘conscious sleep’ as the physical body is resting, but the mind remains awake and aware. Yoga Nidra brings about total physical, emotional and mental relaxation. Just a few of the reported benefits include reduced stress, improved sleep and a greater sense of wellbeing but Yoga Nidra can also be used as a means to help heal emotional and physiological wounds. For instance, the work of Richard Miller with US Army veterans with PTSD has produced impressive results. As one US Marine veteran comments on Richard Miller’s iRest (‘integrative-Restoration’ Yoga Nidra) website,
“I truly believe that iRest helps to save my life every day. It has given me the hope and strength I needed to reconnect myself to the world again.”
For my own personal experience of Yoga Nidra, it has helped (and continues to help) me find self-acceptance. As Rod Stryker (teacher, founder of ParaYoga and author of The Four Desires) describes, Yoga Nidra, “…opens a doorway to a place where we can see ourselves and our lives in the most positive light.”
As a student I have experienced Yoga Nidras across a range of traditions – Himalayan, Satyananda and iRest (Richard Miller) – and experienced different benefits from all of them, and so when I wanted to deepen my studies in this area in order to share Yoga Nidra with more people, I trained with Uma Dinsmore-Tuli, Nirlipta Tuil and Ben Woolf in Total Yoga Nidra. Total Yoga Nidra delves into all these different lineages and shows us that there is no one ‘right way’.
How do I ‘do’ Yoga Nidra?
One of the great beauties of this is that you don’t have to do yoga or meditate in order to experience Yoga Nidra, making it accessible to almost anyone. As a practitioner, all that is required of you is to lie down (or sit) in a comfortable position, listen and be willing to become effortless, or in other words, enter an effortless state of being. Restorative Yoga poses such as a Basic Relaxation Pose (Supported Savasana) or Supported Reclining Pose are ideal positions for Yoga Nidra as the body is completely supported and comfortable, thus creating the conditions for both body and mind to let go more easily. If you have classes available in your area then it can be wonderful to experience live ‘in person’ Yoga Nidra, but you can also listen to recordings meaning that you can access Yoga Nidra whenever you need it at the times which work best for you.
I have recorded short 10-15 minute practices which are available through my website here. I will be regularly adding more Yoga Nidra and meditation recordings to this page. I have been asked by many people over the past couple of years for recordings, so I hope you will enjoy them.
If you are based in London I teach a weekly Friday Flow & Restore class at Embody Wellness Vauxhall. This class concludes with a 15 minute yoga nidra.
And don’t forget, if you sign up to my mailing list through www.ucanyoga.co.uk you will receive a complimentary 15 minute Yoga Nidra too.