Yoga nidra is a meditation practice that has been known and utilised for many hundreds of years. Now it is becoming more and more popular around the world and is being widely practiced to reduce stress, promote better sleep and encourage healing.
The word yoga nidra can be translated as “yogic sleep”. It is a practice through which you can explore different states of consciousness and enter a deep state of relaxation, while remaining fully conscious. Relaxation is only the first stage, the complete practice can lead you to a deep understanding of who you are on a physical, mental and emotional level.
Anyone can practice yoga nidra
You do not need any experience in yoga or meditation to be able to do yoga nidra. It is a fairly simple guided relaxation, which is typically done laying down, therefore can be practiced by anyone, even those who find a regular yoga asana practice too intense or are unable to join due to physical injuries.
You cannot go wrong, all you need to do is follow the voice of the teacher who is guiding you. If you fall asleep during the practice that is also fine, you will still receive the benefits as your unconscious mind will absorb the essence of the words you hear.
You might encounter a new experience each time you practice, all of which are absolutely fine. Yoga nidra provides a window into yourself and often brings a good amount of peace in a short period of time.
Practising yoga nidra has immense benefits
There are lots of different yoga nidras available. Each teacher can use their own words, so each practice can be tailored, for example to improve sleep, to connect to inner peace and so on.
The exercise has a deeply revitalizing effect on the practitioner as it gives rest not only to the body, but also to the unconscious part of the mind. It is an accessible meditation practice that calms the nervous system, helps releasing any tension and anxiety, and is found to be very helpful in coping with and reducing stress. It helps to awaken our senses and to recreate the connection between the different parts of the body and the mind.
Yoga nidra can be used for both meditation and also to achieve better sleep. It is said that 20 minutes of yoga nidra can worth up to 4 hours of deep sleep! When used before or to get to sleep practitioners often experience a deeper, better quality of rest then through ordinary sleep. Yoga nidra has also been proved to be an effective method for helping people who suffer from insomnia.
The benefits of this powerful practice can go beyond physical rest
With regular practice yoga nidra has the potential to become a powerful tool for insight, empowerment and healing from within. As a mind-body therapy it can be utilised by therapists to treat patients with chronic pain, chemical dependency and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Through this invaluable method we have the opportunity to access the innermost core of our consciousness in a safe and non-judgmental environment, where we can explore what we need in the moment and also able to work on releasing deep rooted, self-destructive belief systems, long-held emotions and reactive patterns. On the long run this can contribute to healing psychological wounds, improve our mental and emotional stability and overall sense of joy and wellbeing.
When is the best time to practice yoga nidra?
The best time to practice yoga nidra is either early in the morning or in the evening around sunset, when it is darker and there are less distractions from noise. You need to find a place where you can be in silence, undisturbed, and where you will feel safe and warm. Switch off the phones, close the door and settle down.
What should I wear?
Wear comfortable clothing, remove anything tight, such as belt, watch, shoes etc. You want to feel comfortable and relaxed.
Rest comfortably on your back in savasana (corpse pose).. Feel free to use pillows and blankets to provide support for your body and to keep you warm. Bend your knees if you find it uncomfortable on your back – support beneath the knees with a rolled up blanket or cushion. It is better to practice on the floor with a yoga mat or blankets underneath you, instead of practicing in your bed to avoid falling asleep (unless your aim is to fall asleep at the end of your practice).
What happens during yoga nidra?
During your yoga nidra you start by allowing yourself to relax. You then open your awareness to the different sensations in the body, hearing, sensations, emotions and breath. Then rotate your consciousness around the body, shining the light of awareness to the different parts of the body. There is no need to flex any muscles or move, you only need to bring your awareness into the body part and visualize it, feel it mentally. Some yoga nidras include guided visualisations, and periods of silence.
Once you started the practice try not to move, keep your body relaxed and your eyes closed.
La Crisalida Retreats Yoga Nidra text to practice at home!
If you would like to try yoga nidra at home, read on and you will find the steps of a simple and easy to remember practice below. You could also record yourself on your phone and play it back to you. This practice will take around 15 minutes.
Find a comfortable position. Take an inhale and as you exhale allow your body to relax. Simply surrender the whole body to the floor.
Scan your body from head to toes and allow any tight parts to relax, any tension to melt away. With every exhalation relax deeper and deeper. Feel the calmness spreading through your body.
As the relaxation becomes deeper say to yourself mentally “I will stay awake” (unless you are practicing to fall asleep) and affirm your intention that you are going to practice yoga nidra.
Now allow your senses to open.
First bring your attention to your hearing and become aware of the sounds around you, the sounds inside and outside of the room where you are practicing. Without analysing any one sound just simply listen, be aware and then let them go.
Now become aware of your physical body lying on the floor. Feel the weight of your body and the connection points between your body and the mat. Become aware of the different functions, movements of the body. Just welcome the different sensations without going into thinking, and just let those go too.
Become aware of your thoughts and emotions and then gently draw back a bit and watch them float away. They are not important right now. There is nowhere to be, nothing else to do, all there is, is this rest.
Bring your attention to your chest and become aware of your breath as it is naturally rising and falling.
This is the time to make your “sankalpa” or resolve. This is a simple positive statement, an affirmation, said in the present tense. For example: “I am happy.” or “I am healthy.” Repeat your sankalpa clearly with awareness three times mentally.
Now rotate your awareness around the body, becoming aware, feeling, and visualizing each body part one after another in the following order:
Start with the right hand thumb, then second finger, third finger, fourth finger, fifth finger, palm of the hand, back of the hand, right wrist, lower arm, elbow, upper arm, right shoulder, right armpit, right side, waist, right hip, right thigh, knee, lower leg, ankle, sole of the right foot, big toe, second toe, third toe, fourth toe and fifth toe. Now feel the whole right side of the body.
Continue with feeling the left hand thumb, then second finger, third finger, fourth finger, fifth finger, palm of the hand, back of the hand, left wrist, lower arm, elbow, upper arm, left shoulder, armpit, left side, waist, left hip, left thigh, knee, lower leg, ankle, sole of the left foot, big toe, second toe, third toe, fourth toe and fifth toe. Now feel the whole left side of the body.
Bring your attention to the back of the body and feel the right buttock, then the left buttock, the lower back, middle back, upper back. Now feel the whole back of the body.
Bring your awareness to the head and feel the forehead, then, right ear, left ear, right cheek, left cheek, right eye, left eye, the nose, the lips and tongue, chin, base of throat, right side of the chest, left side of the chest, the abdomen. Now feel the whole front of the body.
Now feel the whole body, the whole body as one unit. Feel the life circling around in your veins in your whole body as it is resting on the floor fully relaxed.
Repeat your sankalpa again three times.
Notice any sensations of wellbeing, joy, ease and welcome these into your entire body and mind.
Once again become aware of the sounds around you. Outside and then inside of the room you are in. Become aware of your body and bring some movements in your toes and fingers, gently move your head from side to side. Have a nice long stretch, slowly open your eyes and have a wonderful day!
(If you wish to use the yoga nidra to fall asleep then replace this paragraph with the words: “Now allow yourself to rest. Falling deeply asleep”. Sleep well!).
Experience a yoga nidra at La Crisalida Retreats
If you want to experience the amazing benefits of a guided yoga nidra, we offer one 45-minute yoga nidra every week at La Crisalida Retreats to help you to find deep relaxation and inner peace. Additionally, some teachers include a short version of yoga nidra at the end of their yoga class. Read more about our yoga retreats and the yoga teachers and styles by clicking on the links.
About the author
- Yoga teacher and loves exploring mindset in life makeover workshops.