What is Yoga Nidra?
Yoga Nidra (yogic sleep) is a guided meditation that leads to a deeply relaxed state of being that hovers between wakefulness and sleep. This deeply relaxed state of Yoga Nidra offers benefits that are in many ways the very antidote to the stress that builds and burdens us in our overly busy lives.
The relaxation found in Yoga Nidra envelopes us on the physical level, the mental level, and the emotional level. Relaxation at each of these levels, comes with specific benefits. For instance:
- Body–Our bodies are designed to heal when relaxed
- Mind–Relaxation opens the doors to mindful awareness and intentional living
- Emotions–Relaxation invites thoughtful responsiveness (rather than reactivity) to our emotions
When we find relaxation in all of these levels, we enter the deeply relaxed state offered by Yoga Nidra.
A daily practice of Yoga Nidra offers a tool to let go of tension and find balance that permeates our daily lives. In addition to finding balance, by creating and sustaining a practice to relax, let go, and essentially trust our center of being to guide us, we find we have an increase in energy to carry us through our days.
Yoga Nidra is Structured by Eight Steps
The eight steps of Yoga Nidra are:
- Initial relaxation (usually in Shavasana)
- Sankalpa (set an intention/or resolve)
- Rotation of consciousness
- Breathing and Counting
The Power of Sankalpa
I will explore each of these steps in more detail in another blog post. The step, to me, that I think many people will find beneficial is setting the Sankalpa. Sankalpa is a Sanskrit word meaning intention or heart-felt desire. Yoga Nidra invites the subconscious mind to work with Sanskalpa. The subconscious mind can be imagined as fertile ground that will grow what we plant there. Throughout our day, our subconscious mind is working to bring about the seeds we plant. With Sankalpa, we intentionally plan seeds we want to grow. Then, we invite our subconscious mind to go to work. During Yoga Nidra, this work is largely metaphorical. Metaphor can be thought of as conversation between the subconscious and conscious mind. It is a powerful dialog that invites intentional change, supported by the power of subconscious alignment, in our daily lives. This, to me, is the heart of Yoga Nidra. Beyond the benefits of relaxation and restoration, it offers alignment and congruence between our aware and not-so-aware parts of self.