Yoga Nidra

It was during my yoga teacher training when I first heard about yoga nidra from my teacher. She said, an hour of yoga nidra is equal to 4 hours of sleep. Eyes round and ears open, this is what I needed right now! A thought in my head. Yoga teacher training was not just physically demanding but also a huge effort mentally and psychologically. And this yoga nidra thing might be a perfect way to let go of my tension.

Experiencing yoga nidra for the first time was like a power nap. However, it felt weird and creepy for me. I was like in another dimension, a state of consciousness that I know I am awake, but I am in a different realm. After the session I told the teacher that I am scared without any reason. Said that it was normal, she had experiences with other students who meditate sharing the same verbatim. So, I shrugged it off and just enjoyed the following sessions our teacher is giving us extra when in fact it was a Vinyasa teacher training. It was such a treat for us because of the relaxing effect after. Of course, it was not for me at first.

Nidra, a Sanskrit term for “sleep”. Yoga nidra is a practice that induces a state of deep but conscious relaxation. It is said that the state of consciousness entered during yoga nidra is somewhere between sleep and wakefulness.

Studies have shown that yoga nidra not only promotes relaxation and calmness, it also has an impact on psychological and mental aspects of a person. Some benefits they pointed were decreased anxiety and stress, managed insomnia, reduced PTSD, heightened awareness and mental clarity. It sounds like a meditation, right?

In many ways yoga nidra is similar to meditation. There are three distinct differences identified between these two- physical position, attention and state of consciousness. While meditation requires us to sit upright, bring our attention to a certain anchor (such as the breath or mantra),and consciousness can be in multiple states; yoga nidra is generally practiced lying down to totally rest the body, it is highly guided by a teacher to take the attention to specific places, and it moves you to a state of conscious deep sleep. I would always remember the movie of Leonardo deCaprio- Inception. The best way to describe it.

If this sounds really mysterious for you, then how does yoga nidra work? I am not a yoga nidra teacher but I did my research because eventually I loved it as much as I love a power yoga class. Like a typical Vinyasa class, we set an intention at the start of the practice. In yoga nidra, setting intention and letting it go with the flow of the deep relaxation of the body, mind and emotions, your unconscious opens up to new ways of healing, thinking and fulfilling your conscious intentions.

It has been reported that 80% of our brain uses the unconscious or subconscious mind (used interchangeably), 20% for the conscious mind. Subconscious mind contains thoughts, emotions and ways of thinking from our past events and memories. This drives human behavior, reactions and automatic reactions that we do in our everyday life. Yoga nidra uses your intention to explore your unconscious mind to tap the stored ideas and information to fulfill your desire. It somehow is a “trick to hack your subsconcious mind” which is your intelligent mind.

If you want to try yoga nidra, there are guided sessions you may find online or look for an experienced teacher to guide you along this journey.

A guided meditation is an effective way to deal with insomnia, either at the beginning of the night or in the middle of the night, when awaken from sleep. Put it on and do not stare at your screen.

You can find it here.