The How, Why and What of Yoga Nidra

Yoga Nidra, or “yogic sleep” is a guided deep relaxation + meditation practice intended to provide total physical, emotional and mental relaxation.  The practice also involves letting go of old, unhelpful patterns of thought and allowing the emergence of new, authentic ones, and accessing peace and joy.   

That is a lot happening in 30 minutes and it certainly doesn’t give you a picture of what a Yoga Nidra session looks like.  Additionally, with “Yoga” in its name we tend to think it’s exercise (at least in the states). However, Yoga Nidra is not exercise.  It’s sleep…sort of.  

Here I have provided some of the why of Yoga Nidra, how it works, and what exactly happens in a session.  If you have additional questions do not hesitate to ask.

Why do Yoga Nidra?

Yoga Nidra fosters healing, clarity and peace of mind and can enable us to approach a challenge in a new way.  Additional benefits are vast including:

  • 1/2 hour practice = 2 hours of sleep
  • ease muscle tension
  • relax the monkey mind
  • reduce anxiety
  • improve focus, concentration and attention span
  • revitalize and increase energy
  • develop intuition
  • heal emotional and physical wounds
  • improve sleep
  • opening space for one’s true nature to arise

How does Yoga Nidra work?

The process is eloquently explained in a few quotes from the book Yoga Nidra for Complete Relaxation and Stress Relief, by Julie Lusk. Lusk explains: 

“Our day-to-day frame of consciousness (beta brain waves) makes it extremely difficult to make and maintain our good intentions because they crash into our long term conditioning, habits, and social pressures.” 

“Through no fault of our own, your mind is simply not very receptive to making these changes.  During yoga nidra, we knowingly, consciously, and consecutively experience different types of brainwave levels that are receptive to change that include alpha, theta and delta frequencies, also associated with levels of consciousness.  The level reached during Yoga Nidra depends on the depth of your experience. When we implant a resolve in the subconscious mind, useless thoughts and behaviors can be weeded out and the conditions are created for significant and transformative change to take root and grow.”

Regular practice will improve the experience of Yoga Nidra.  

What happens in a Yoga Nidra session?

If you’ve done Yoga before you are familiar with Savasana, or corpse pose.  This pose is just what it sounds like, lying flat on your back for 5-10 minutes at the end of a practice to allow your body and mind to integrate the work that you’ve done.  In a Yoga Nidra session you’ll spend 30-40 minutes in Savasana and will be guided through a meditation. Props, including mats, blankets, eye pillows and bolsters will be available to you to help you to be as comfortable as possible.  A mindful leader will follow a carefully worded script. The script guides you through relaxing your physical body, by focusing on each muscle with a little tension and then relaxing it, more and more until your entire body is at ease.  The script will then take you into some breathing exercises to help the energy in your body to become more fluid.  After this you’ll be guided to rest the mind, mental and emotional processes through visualization and imagery.  With these process more at ease you’ll tune into what arises in the open space, including your intuition and your inner joy and peace.  

In the midst of your practice you’ll be invited to choose a “Sankalpa.”  A Sankalpa is a personal resolve, or sacred vow, made to clear out useless habits and bring about positive and durable changes in your personality and life.  It is a quality that helps you become something or do something with your life, encouraging meaning and purpose.

Offerings: Heartswell will be integrating Yoga Nidra into our Restore & Explore 5 week class or local weekend retreat. Visit our Events page for more information.

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