Yoga nidra, in its modern form, is synonomous with “yogic sleep”. It is used to describe a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping. This state is generally reached through a guided meditation, which is where you may have heard of, or experienced, yoga nidra yourself. Yoga nidra has been used with the US Army to help soldiers heal from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Multiple modern teachers, including Richard Miller, have popularized yoga nidra and made it more accessible to the public. The beauty of yoga nidra is how accessible it is. A yoga nidra practice does not require any movement- you rest is savasana (corpse pose) while doing the practice. If you are unable to lie down, you can do this practice steated, or however is most comfortable for you.
Yoga nidra shares many ovelaps with a traditional mediation practice but is also very different. Meditation is done in a waking state of consciousness and moves us into a theta state. The theta state is one we go through to enter the delta state, which is a deep healing state we enter in our deepest sleep cycle. We are aiming to enter the delta state through yoga nidra. Here, the body and mind can rest while we the consciousness is awake.
Yoga nidra offers a way to become aware of your emotions and sensations in your body, become present, process emotion, and heal trauma. The practice integrates your thoughts, feelings and sensations, and leads to a state of wholeness. It promotes a state of non-judgement where you can obverse and learn about yourself from a place of compassion and acceptance. You can gently confront long-held emotions and allow yourself to let go. You don’t have to do any fancy poses or sit for hours in a meditative pose. This makes yoga nidra an easy practice to start up and maintain in your daily life. You can spend five minutes practicing, or an hour, it is completely up to you. All you need to do is follow the voice that is guiding the meditation. You may enter a deep meditative state during your practice, or you may fall asleep. The neat part is that even if you fall asleep, you will reap the benefits while your unconscious mind absorbs the practice.
The yoga nidra practice is one anyone can do. People at any age and any ability can reap the rewards of a yoga nidra practice. While you may not be interested in or able to do intense power yoga, you may feel comfortable lying or sitting down and listening to a guided meditation. While not the most conventional use of the practice, doing a yoga nidra practice while lying in bed, and using it to fall asleep, is an easy way to incorporate it into your routine at time when you are lying down and wanting to relax. Yoga nidra promotes stress reduction and a deeper level of relaxation and peace than you may be able to find in other yoga or meditation practices.
Kiah Loewen, RYT200