Yoga Nidra is a Sanskrit word which translates as ‘Yogic Sleep.’
It is a technique in which we learn to relax consciously to a state of conscious sleep.
The aim is to unite your awareness with the act of sleeping. Externally, it may look like you are sleeping, but internally the awareness remains awake and you are conscious of the deeper layers of the mind.
A brief history
The Yoga Nidra we teach, was developed by Swami Satyananda Saraswati, who was a disciple of Swami Sivananda Saraswati of Rishikesh.
Swami Satyananda developed this practice from an ancient tantric technique, adapting it to the needs of people living in today’s modern society.
Over the years, therapists and other institutions have developed and created variations of Yoga Nidra. One example is the popular I-Rest technique, which was developed by psychologist Richard Miller, for the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Why we practise Yoga Nidra
In today’s society, our way of living creates many different forms of tensions and anxieties.
We are constantly on the go, our sympathetic nervous system is permanently switched on, which means any stress and anxiety we endure creates tensions in our body, effecting our emotions and our mind.
Without managing our personal wellbeing, we are at risk of illness. Many diseases are related to tension of the body and mind.
Through the regular practise of Yoga Nidra we learn how to relax and harmonise our own body and mind, creating balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. Inducing physical, emotional and mental relaxation.
How Yoga Nidra works
Yoga Nidra is a systematic practice that is generally practised in a quiet space from a laying down position, known as Shavasana, or the Corpse Pose. The duration is usually from twenty to forty minutes in length. In the full Satyananda Yoga Nidra® practice we teach, there are eight stages, of which there are four essential stages.
- body rotation
- breath awareness
Some compare Yoga Nidra with hypnosis, but this is wrong. In hypnosis we are not aware, the brain is completely shut down, during Yoga Nidra, we are aware and the brain is completely awake.
The awareness floats on the borderline between awake and sleeping, known as the hypnogogic state. Being in this state gives you access to your subconscious mind. And it’s there you come to know yourself.
The main requirements of the practice are to remain still and try not to fall asleep! And that you remain aware of the teacher’s voice and follow the instructions mentally. The awareness flows from body part to body part as the instructions are given.
It’s not long before Yoga Nidra becomes a firm favourite amongst students.
To read what others have said about this wonderful practice, you can read the blog Why we all love Yoga Nidra
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