Updated: Sep 15, 2020
What is Yoga Nidra?
The closest translation of Yoga Nidra (Sanskrit) is: Yoga = union, Nidra = sleep.
Intriguing, right? How does that work?
Yoga Nidra is an ancient meditative practice that is practiced while lying in Savasana (corpse pose) or another resting pose. While remaining as comfortable as possible, you are led through a guided meditation and into deep relaxation as your awareness withdraws from the external world and into the internal. It typically includes body scans and visualizations, and usually lasts anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes. This practice stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system ("rest and digest"), which increases feelings of deep calmness and relaxation, leading you into a sleep-like state.
The goal of Yoga Nidra is to be totally present with the guided meditation, however, since it is a deeply relaxing practice you are actually functioning on a different level of awareness than your wakeful state. It is common to drift in and out of consciousness (your mind may actually enter states of REM), or even to drift into sleep. You will still reap benefits from practice as there is no way to do it wrong. The only thing asked of you in Yoga Nidra is simply showing up and being open to the process, knowing that it may look different for you each time.
Why practice it?
You have probably heard that meditation is great for your mental health and well-being, and if you have been wanting to try meditation and/or deepen your meditation practice, Yoga Nidra is an wonderful tool to do so.
The benefits of Yoga Nidra seem to be endless... it has been shown to reduce stress, pain, and insomnia, as well as symptoms of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is even possible (and likely) to enter REM states during practice, which can improve your energy level and overall brain functioning. Especially in this day and age...who couldn't benefit from a little extra REM, deep relaxation, and stress relief?
Are you ready to try it?
If you are ready to give it a go, here is a link to one of my free classes on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awy0PsD2hlQ&t=428s
To prepare for practice, you will want to make yourself as comfortable as possible. If you are lying on the floor, please use a pillow under your head and a pillow/blanket under your knees. You may also want a blanket over your body as your temperature tends to drop during Yoga Nidra (just like it does when you sleep). If your bed is accessible, you are welcome to practice in bed!
I hope you consider adding the practice of Yoga Nidra to your ongoing self-care routine. As you can see, it is a very accessible practice, and as long as you are willing to show up and be open to the process you will reap benefits.