What IS Yoga Nidra?

"The Blissful Relaxation"

Most people sleep without resolving their tensions, 

This is termed nidra. 

Nidra means sleep, no matter what or why, 

But yoga nidra means sleep after throwing off the burdens, 

It is of a blissful, higher quality altogether. 

 

When awareness is separate and distinct from the fluctuations of the mind, 

When waking, dream and deep sleep pass like clouds, 

Yet awareness remains

This is the experience of total relaxation. 

 

Relaxation does not mean sleep. 

Relaxation means to be blissfully happy, 

It has no end. 

I call bliss absolute relaxation; 

Sleep is a different matter. 

Sleep gives only mind and sense relaxation, 

Bliss relaxes the inner self; 

That is why, 

Yoga nidra is the doorway to bliss. 

-Written by Swami Satyananda Saraswati

 

The Wednesday evening Restorative Yoga class includes a final relaxation technique called Yoga Nidra on the first Wednesday of each month.  Yoga Nidra is a 'hypnagogic' state of psychic sleep where our consciousness exists at the edge of sleep. This practice is very potent in that it permeates our subconscious with a seed of resolve that we set for ourselves. A regular practice of Yoga Nidra brings healing and personal growth. 

Benefits of Yoga Nidra 

*Deep relaxation

*Powers down the senses 

*Deprograms bad habits

*Dissolves physical tension

*Helps you to fall asleep

*Connects you with your inner self

*Penetrates the subconscious

*Supports physical healing

*Manifest intentions 

*Explore personal growth

*Foster creative, passive problem solving

How to Practice

Similar to the Corpse Pose (savasana), which concludes every yoga class, Yoga Nidra is practiced in the same fully reclined position. Lie on your back with your knees slightly bent and supported. Make yourself as comfortable as you can. Make sure you are warm enough. Close your eyes and settle in. It is best that you remain still throughout the practice so that your body and brain have a chance to fully relax. If you become uncomfortable, feel free to change positions. Unlike the Corpse Pose, Yoga Nidra can last up to an hour and is a guided practice as you are directed to rotate your awareness throughout your body, breath, senses, emotions, and imagery. It is important to remain awake by listening to the sound of your instructor's voice. Try not to concentrate too intensely as this may prevent you from relaxing. Simply absorb what you need in the moment and leave the rest behind. If the mind becomes overactive with thoughts and worries, just come back to the sound of the instructor's voice. 

7 Stages of Yoga Nidra

1. Relaxation

2. Bring attention to the breath. 

3. Create a resolve or sankalpa to support your highest good- a short sentence that you want and believe will come true. This will be the same every time you practice. For example, "my body is healthy" or "I am lovable". Try to discover one naturally and keep it in the present tense. Silently state your sankalpa clearly and with awareness three times. This sankalpa you make during Yoga Nidra is a seed that permeates the subconscious and enables profound transformation in our self-perception and our bodies. 

4. Rotate your consciousness throughout the physical body. You will be guided through a 61-points awareness exercise. 

5. Visualizations and Imagery oftentimes offered in opposition such as hot, cold, something negative, something positive to rotate the consciousness and diffuse reactivity

6. Repeat Sankalpa

7. Return to fully conscious state

Some Remarks on Experiencing Yoga Nidra by Richard Miller, PhD

"Instead of my usual experience of being in the world, I was having a non-mental experience of the world being in me." 

"It left behind in me a strong resonance and longing to consciously awaken into and fully abide as this feeling of non-separate presence." 

"The key to inner peace is not an impenetrable secret. While it may seem at first, distant and obscure, it is actually always living in plain sight, readily available. This is why our true nature of innate peace and equanimity is often referred to as an "open secret." 

Yoga Nidra: The Contemplative Heart of Yoga by Richard Miller, PhD Yoga Therapy Ireland Winter 2012