Yoga Nidra is a service of love we give to ourselves and all others. It mentors us into an understanding of our true nature, and it shows us that when we serve ourselves, we serve all others; when we serve others, we serve ourselves
Yoga Nidra is a deep state of conscious rest and an ancient style of meditation.
Yoga Nidra is a technique that induces deep body-mind relaxation with the ultimate goal of increasing self-awareness. It is often called “yogic sleep,” a paradoxical state of being between sleep and consciousness that’s conducive to deep emotional and physical healing, rewiring your brain, and self-exploration. It is not sleep it is waking up to who we truly are.
“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 ātma, the inner self; that is why, in tantra, Yoga Nidra is the doorway to Samādhi.”
– Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Yoga Nidra, pub. Bihar School of Yoga, 1976.
Yoga Nidra is a way to meet yourself beyond all the transient stuff, the body, the breath, the mind, the patterns and the limitations.
Yoga Nidra is a way to reveal the essence of your True Self.
Richard Miller, Ph.D., Irest® founder and author of the authoritative Yoga Nidra: A Meditative Practice for Deep Relaxation and Healing, has postulated that there’s no separation between our dream state and reality because they inform each other.
Yoga Nidra is an antidote to our modern lifestyles. As a culture, we’re often connected, stressed, and our nervous systems are constantly in a fight-or-flight, sympathetic state. Yoga Nidra is an effective and efficient way to access the “rest and digest” parasympathetic state, which is where healing can happen.
What are the benefits of Yoga Nidra?
Nidra will help you rest, restore, de-stress, increase awareness,vanquish unhealthy sleep patterns, neutralize or overcome anxiety, fear, depression and or anger, undo bad habits, improve your relating with self and others, and eventually understand your True Nature as Divine.
In the beginning, whether you fall asleep during practice (as I did twice a week for the first year and a half, we all have physical and mental exhaustion in common) or not, you’ll start feeling more rested and restored. One hour of Yoga Nidra is as restful as a few hours of sleep, according to Swami Satyananda. And as you progress, Yoga Nidra becomes a safe spiritual practice to help clarify and execute your purpose as you fuse your consciousness with your powerful subconscious.
In one fascinating study that scanned the brains of men and women doing Yoga Nidra, researchers found that practitioners’ brains showed that they were at once in a deep resting state similar to sleep, but they weren’t asleep at all. Actually, they were completely conscious. “The measurements show, for the first time, that one can be completely aware in such a deep state—that one can consciously experience and control the brain’s activity simultaneously. This confirms that meditation is the fourth major state, equal to dreaming, sleeping, and wakefulness.”
Dear Sethyne, I wanted to share some thoughts with you re: Nidra. At some point this summer I was ready to make an amends to someone who threatened my very soul many years ago. I finally saw how “my” behavior contributed to her actions. (Never thought I’d ever see it!) The thought of even hearing her voice scared me. Fear was imbedded in my cells. I thought I’d try doing Nidra with you every week. I also did a Reiki session. By the end of the summer my fears were pretty much dissipated and I was able to make my amends. I don’t know a lot about Nidra,but I do believe that my residue traumatic feelings were eased by this practice. I appreciate you as a teacher and thank you for continuing this practice for us. Sending lots of love and gratitude.
What do you do in Yoga Nidra ?
Get comfortable, listen & follow the instructions. That is it.
The best way to describe Yoga Nidra is that it’s a lot like a very long savasana, or corpse pose.
The ideal mind-state for Yoga Nidra is “no need for movement” and fine tuning all your props for maximum comfort is the foundation of this experience.
Using as many props as necessary to support your body is the key. A pillow or blanket behind the head, a bolster behind the knees to ease the low back are the basics. Optionally, socks and an eye pillow help soothe many students.
In a Yoga Nidra class your instructor will direct your awareness to your body, breath, and conjure up imagery that helps you more easily transition into that hypnotic, ultra-relaxed state that leaves you feeling renewed, refreshed and rested afterward.
Yoga Nidra is a sleep meditation—but that doesn’t mean it’s the same thing as sleep.
You know that moment right before you’re about to fall asleep? You’re aware of your body, heavy and relaxed in your bed, and all your worries have shifted to the furthest corner of your brain. Instead, you’re having slightly odd, dream-like thoughts, while still being mostly aware of your surroundings. Maybe you vaguely hear a noise outside your bedroom window, but it doesn’t bother you. It’s just a noise, and you’re only moments away from drifting off to dreamland. That’s exactly the mental space you should aim for with Yoga Nidra.
It is sleep with a seed of awareness.
When you’re in a deep, restorative sleep, you have absolutely no awareness of what’s going on around you—you’re completely unconscious. Yoga Nidra is not that. In Yoga Nidra, we hold on to our consciousness, and we may even be aware of sound or activity around us. The difference is, we don’t react to it. We’re just immersed in the most relaxed possible state of conscious energy.
The energy of Yoga Nidra can best be described as hypnotic, and it’s something to aim for. Once you fall asleep, you’re no longer in Yoga Nidra—but the longer you can stay in the space, the more easily you can reap the restorative benefits. While you can’t always avoid falling asleep (many beginners do—it’s part of the process!) it may help to not practice Yoga Nidra late at night. Instead, aim for a time of day when you’re more alert and able to focus your energy toward achieving this hypnotic state of mind. My practice has shifted to first thing each morning. You’ll learn more about how to not fall asleep during Nidra below.
What’s the difference between Yoga Nidra and a guided meditation?
Yoga Nidra is a very specific type of guided meditation. Although, to be clear, I don’t feel that there is any right or wrong system or technique. It is a state of consciousness, A Yoga Nidra session is typically 30 minutes long—any shorter isn’t long enough to enter a parasympathetic (rest-and-digest) state and any longer than 45 minutes can be considered an advanced practice.
In general, we are moving through states of consciousness. From engagement in the external world to the state of dreams where the mind is still going and the physical body is at rest, into the deep sleep state where image or impression can’t penetrate you, and finally into the state of Beyond meeting yourself where you are whole, complete and content.
How do you avoid falling asleep during Yoga Nidra?
If you’ve been practicing Yoga Nidra regularly and keep falling asleep, worry not: This is actually very normal. I recommendation to do Yoga Nidra at a time when you feel very awake, refreshed, and not in danger of falling asleep, like first thing in the morning versus in the evening. If you need a little extra help with this, doing a physical asana practice beforehand, sitting in a supported seat instead of lying down and/or setting a strong intention to stay awake during the practice can work wonders. The last one is important because our consciousness takes cues from our subconscious, and the intention creates a blueprint so re-patterning can occur.
Can I do Yoga Nidra?
Yoga Nidra is available to us all. Any time.
All you need is a place to lie down or sit upright and relax.
If you are amidst turmoil or trauma it might be best to practice in the presence of a teacher. As with all Yoga the success in self-inquiry requires sincere interest, motivation, patience, persistence and consistency.
It is common to find resistance to these practices. The practice of slowing down and being present makes us aware of where we are. You start to notice the achy bits of your body and your wild mind. It is hard to notice what is going on inside when you become still. We are used to distracting ourselves. Distractions are temporary relief. As soon as we put distractions aside, there we are again.
Yoga Nidra is deep relaxation and really meeting yourself.
Yoga Nidra allows me the opportunity to check in every day. I am tossled by my mind and shifts in my body and or self-consciousness. It’s a daily place where I can drop in and remember who I am.
You might not get the hang of it right away, but once you to surrender to the power of Yoga Nidra you’ll likely find that it’s a reliable tool for those days when you don’t get enough sleep or simply need to take a beat to relax.
This is the training I have and wanted to share my foundation.
iRest® is a meditation practice based on the ancient tradition of Yoga Nidra and adapted to suit the conditions of modern life. When practiced regularly – iRest® enables you to meet each moment of your life with unshakable peace and wellbeing, no matter how challenging or difficult your situation.
iRest® was developed by Dr. Richard Miller, a spiritual teacher, author, yogic scholar, researcher and clinical psychologist, who combined traditional yogic practice with Western psychology and neuroscience. It is practiced and taught by thousands of people worldwide in a wide range of settings, including health centers, schools, community centers, yoga studios, correctional facilities and military hospitals.
iRest® provides you with guidelines for self-inquiry that take you beyond self-limiting beliefs and patterns so you can consciously shift your life.
Based on current studies with iRest® in the military, the Defense Centers of Excellence has approved iRest® as a Complementary and Alternative Medicine warranting continuing research for its use in the treatment of PTSD. In addition, the U.S. Army Surgeon General has listed Yoga Nidra (based on research with iRest®) as a Tier 1 approach for addressing Pain Management in Military Care. iRest® has been shown to be effective in scientific trials for conditions including chronic pain, sleep problems, depression and anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
iRest® is simple to learn and easy to practice. It can be practiced by anyone, regardless of physical ability or experience with meditation. Once learned, iRest® becomes a set of tools for life.