Yoga Nidra, also known as yogic sleep or conscious deep sleep, is a powerful technique which enables us to learn to relax consciously and deeply – a systematic method for inducing complete physical, mental and emotional relaxation. In Yoga Nidra, sleep is not considered to be relaxation, as true relaxation goes much deeper than normal sleep. We remain aware throughout the practice of Yoga Nidra in a state of dynamic sleep, so although we appear to be sleeping, our consciousness is functioning at a deeper level of awareness.
This simple practice helps us to let go of muscular tension, and teaches us how to release fears, anxieties and phobias. It is totally safe, environmentally friendly, drug and cost free, and almost anyone, regardless of age, can learn how to do it. Regular practice can be both curative and preventative.
This gentle healing is perfect for reducing stress, panic attacks, grief, anxiety, depression, insomnia, high blood pressure, trauma, and the consequences of these conditions. Trauma responses originate in the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, completely beyond our conscious control – they cannot be reframed, or healed by the cognitive mind or by will power. The practice of Yoga Nidra offers healing by transcending the linear dimension of logic, memory and rationalisation. Needless to say, it can help most conditions; it is an exceptional way to access inner peace, wherever you are on the spectrum of health, illness, restlessness or contentment.
It can be adapted to suit individual needs, groups and special populations in class settings, workshops and one to one sessions. Once learned, it can be practiced at home – all you need is a CD with an appropriate script, a warm, quiet space and around 30 minutes.
Regular practice is essential, as the benefits are both immediate and cumulative. It is possible to re-programme our ingrained responses and habitual actions; to achieve this, we need to commit to relaxing deeply and consciously several times a week. This enables us to separate and release the emotions we attach to the data that makes up our memories and can govern these responses.
Yoga Nidra doesn’t ask us to change anything, it simply teaches us to observe our habitual tendency to want to change things into something other than they are.
If the idea of doing strange postures puts you off all things yoga, don’t worry – no experience is needed to do this method of deep relaxation, and you don’t need to learn any yoga postures either. Just relax – there is no goal to reach, no comparisons to be made. Next time you feel exhausted, anxious or overwhelmed, try immersing yourself in the transformative power of Yoga Nidra, before reaching for a coffee, a glass of wine and/or the iPad, iPhone, or TV.
"Go deeper ... Past thoughts into silence, Past silence into stillness, Past stillness into the heart. Let Love consume all that is left of you." Kabir