Since a while, the ancient Yogic tradition of Yoga Nidra has become more and more popular. Yoga studies include Yoga Nidra sessions in their weekly schedule and you find a variety of teachings and instructions online. It is a part of the long Yoga tradition (the Sanskrit word yoga meaning unity or harmony). Yoga Nidra does support the overall goal of Yoga, which is bringing body, mind and soul in harmony through a conscious breathing. But what is Yoga Nidra exactly and how can it help you reduce stress and find deeper relaxation? Let´s look into the Secrets of Yoga Nidra.
What does Yoga Nidra mean?
The word Nidra derives from the Sanscrit word sleep, so Yoga Nidra can also be translated with Yogic sleep. It is a very ancient technique with first scriptures going back to 300 BCE and 300 CE, where it first appeared in the book of the Mahabharata. It refers back to old tantric scriptures, with the goal of reaching higher samadhi, the sate of mind in which individual and universal consciousness unify. For the longest time, these techniques would only be handed over from a Yoga master to a student to ensure that mastery is achieved over a long period of practice.
Yoga asanas (physicals practice) are a great way to move your body and bring your body and mind in unison. Meditation helps us still the mind and focusing on one single thing, but Yoga Nidra helps us to tap into our creativity in the easiest way possible: by laying down and relaxing. It is as if you are sleeping, just with a slight sense of awareness. This is what makes all the difference.
Resting in complete effortlessness
Only 20-30 minutes per session are enough to dive into Yoga Nidra, the body resting firmly on the floor, arms by your side and the feet placed hip distance apart. A guided Yoga Nidra session helps you deepen the breath and leads you through special points in your body, bringing body and mind to a state of deep relaxation and effortlessness. These minutes shall help you find deeper relaxation, reduce stress, positively influence your sleep and help you stimulate your creativity and cognitive abilities.
“When you become established in complete effortlessness and ease, where past and future burdens are dissolved, your unconscious becomes more open and available to respond to your conscious desires.” – Yogarupa Rod Stryker in “The Four Desires”.
In contrast to meditation, where you are fully awake and consciously concentrate yourself in mindfulness (even if the the goal is “not thinking”), you try to reach in Yoga Nidra a state beyond waking, dreaming and sleeping trough deep relaxation without concentrating on it. Only here, you are relaxed enough to have access to your subconsciousness and can receive guidance without the influence of your conscious mind.
Fulfill your desires
Yoga Nidra sessions can also be combined with a Sankalpa, which is the Sanskrit term for deep wish or desire. The Sankalpa will be repeated after deepening the breath and going through the specific body parts (e.g. 61 points). In focusing the mind on your desire, you suggest your brain that this wish, or desires has already been fulfilled. And with it you anticipate the positive feelings you get, once you reached your goal and stimulate your mind on a beneficial outcome.
Therefore, Yoga Nidra cannot only be helpful to reach a material goal, but also to fulfill a positive change or generate general healing. Regular practice of Yoga Nidra helps you to more serenity, dealing better with stress symptoms and foster your concentration and energy.
The main intentions for Yoga Nidra are:
General Healing: through deep relaxing of the mind and concentration on the breath, you are able to heal anxiety, depressive moods and other stress symptoms.
Better sleep: with regular Yoga Nidra practice you can improve your sleep quality to easier fall and rest asleep to the point of healing insomnia.
Increase your Creativity and stimulate cognitive functions of the brain like concentration and learn capacity.
Work with a Sankalpa/personal goal or desires; overcome old thought patterns and believes and shape a future outcome you personally wish for (e.g. more serenity, a positive change in your career, deeper loving relationships).
Spiritual Awakening: we are more than our body and thoughts; in the state of Yoga Nidra we can gain access to the divine spirit within us.
This article is only a brief summary of the benefits of Yoga Nidra. The depths of the practice cannot be explained but has to be experienced. As I started with Yoga Nidra, I was in a very turbulent transition between two countries, dealing with the move as well as redefining my own identify. Yoga Nidra has helped me to find my balance and trust that things will turn out beneficial for our whole family. It was about accepting the current life circumstances and dealing with the immediate tasks at hand. Later-on, I realized, that it had also helped me dive deeper into my creativity and finally acknowledge and promote this part of myself.
My personal Yoga Nidra experience
Whenever you do something new, it´s hard to tell what exactly made the difference. To me, the path of Yoga is a holistic way of living. Regularly moving my body, eating healthy, breathwork and Yoga Nidra. Still, I do believe, that especially Yoga Nidra took a huge part in changing my perspective of myself and what I am capable of doing. It helped me dive into the hidden parts of my brain, where old beliefs and negative patterns had stopped me to go further. This website is only one positive site effect of this.
It is important to learn this profound technique from a teacher and give yourself time to experience the positive outcome. The more often you practice, the better. I try to set apart time for at least two sessions per week to keep the continuity. After completing my ParaYoga Nidra® Master Training I practiced 40 days in a row, which was sometimes hard to maintain in times of COVID-19 and homeschooling. But once you get used to set apart these 30 minutes for yourself, you would not want to miss it. Already 30 minutes of Yogic sleep are said to be as beneficial as 2 hours of deep sleep. Try it out and dive into the Secrets of Yoga Nidra.