Yoga Nidra, or yogic sleep as it is commonly known, is an immensely powerful meditation technique, and one of the easiest yoga practices to develop and maintain. While the practitioner rests comfortably in savasana (corpse pose), this systematic meditation takes you through the pancha maya kosha (five layers of self), leaving you with a sense of wholeness.
1. ANYONE CAN DO YOGA NIDRA
Yoga Nidra is a practice that everyone from children to seniors, can do; it’s easy to follow at any age. All your body needs to do is lie down on the floor; or if you can't lie down on the floor, you can still do this practice seated.
2. YOU CANNOT PRACTICE YOGA NIDRA INCORRECTLY
As you lie down, supported in savasana, all you have to do is follow the voice that is guiding you. It's likely you will remember only certain parts of the meditation and not others. Every time you come to the practice you encounter a new experience—none of which is wrong. Falling asleep is okay too, as you will still receive benefits while the unconscious mind is absorbing the practice.
3. EASY TO INCORPORATE INTO YOUR DAILY LIFE
Nidra is always guided, so there is no intense thinking or wondering why you are staring at a blank wall. A yoga nidra practice can be as short as five minutes and as long as an hour. You choose the length.
You may find the easiest way to accommodate a nidra practice is to make it part of your daily bedtime routine. Put the headphones on, practice right in bed, and drift off to sleep. This is not the most conventional way to practice yoga nidra, but you have no excuse not to do it if you're going to be lying down anyway.
4. A SIMPLE WAY TO REDUCE STRESS
Nidra promotes deep rest and relaxation that isn’t found in your average meditation practice. The stages of body scan and breath awareness alone can be practiced to calm your nervous system, leading to less stress and better health.
5. NIDRA OFFERS THE OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN ABOUT YOURSELF INTIMATELY
Some people crave the profound relaxation this practice instills, while other practitioners use the non-judgmental and secure atmosphere that nidra provides as a window into themselves.
Nidra offers a space to explore what you need in the moment, and an opportunity to work on releasing long-held emotions. During nidra you are able to experience an emotion and come “face to face” with what you want to overcome, without "diving into it" completely—meaning without feeling the emotion so completely that you become overwhelmed. Over time you continue to experience the emotion and associated feelings, moving deeper into the practice. Thus, nidra serves as a pathway to freedom without creating bodily stress.
How does a Samskara Work in Nidra?
A samskara (mental groove) is formed by a repetitive thought or habit that is deepened in your mind and body, creating a mental impression (groove) over time. These impressions may cause negative reactions and emotions which prevent a unification of the five layers (koshas) of one's self. If these negative emotions continue to plague you, the mental/emotional layer of the self is unable to integrate with the other layers (physical, energetic, higher wisdom, bliss).
This is where nidra is especially helpful. A samskara can be used as an intention within the nidra practice. You might come into the practice knowing what you would like to work on. The intention, often prompted by the teacher, is then set at the beginning of the practice. When a samskara arises during the practice, you may touch upon the feelings that arise, and then allow yourself to experience these feelings more and more.
By working with this method (and feeling secure throughout the journey), with each subsequent nidra practice you move deeper into a samskara, you are better able to understand your reaction, and then ultimately you can allow the samskara to release into the ocean of consciousness. At that point, it is no longer a deep impression - you are liberated from that samskara!
Now you know! Yoga nidra is an accessible meditation practice that focuses on cultivating multiple levels of well-being.
When nidra is practiced with consistency and awareness, you may likely discover you can find a good amount of peace in a short period of time.
Join me Sunday’s 4-5pm Nidra on FB Live.