What is this new meditative practice everyone is raving about to help them get better rest? Much like its name suggests (yoga = union; nidra = sleep), it cultivates a better relationship with your body and mind and their relationship with resting.
Yoga Nidra is a practice of guided relaxation
Let’s talk about what the actual practice entails — this can vary from teacher to teacher (even practitioner to practitioner based on personal preferences) but we’ll give a general overview:
Usually a person’s voice will guide you through a journey – a journey painted by creative language from the teacher (speaker). These guided visuals can include guiding you to a specific place, usually a scenic area with something you are asked to recall and revisit later in your altered consciousness. The visuals can include things like:
- Walking through a cave
- Seeing a word or phrase in your mind’s eye
- Navigating yourself towards a bright light or along a line of light
Relaxing, gentle language
Most of the time, Yoga Nidra recordings are recorded softly, with a gentle voice and words that aren’t triggering or intense. Oftentimes, teachers will research trauma-informed language to ensure they are speaking in a manner that is safe for most. The language is also generally centered around the ancient yogic practice. Obviously, it has morphed and shifted over time, but the basis remains the same – in order to achieve tranquility of the mind, the practitioner must be made aware of the state of their mind (whether directly or indirectly).
A guiding voice and music
Yoga Nidra recordings tend to have someone talking, but you will find some recordings where music is included. The music is intentionally selected based on the amount of hertz in the audio. The hertz oftentimes translates to certain emotions, feelings or resonation.
What are some of the benefits?
The main benefit most people rave about is that their rest/sleep quality significantly increases while actively practicing Yoga Nidra. Many say they sleep better at night, are actually able to sleep through the night, and find themselves far more rested the next day. Here are some additional benefits of the practice:
- Reduces stress & suffering
- Holds space for the mind to expand
- It’s universal
- Minimal to no physical exertion
Yoga Nidra vs. Meditation
You may be wondering how this practice is any different than meditation… and it really comes down to a couple of things:
- Meditation works towards the expansiveness (stillness, essentially) of the mind; Yoga Nidra works to lull the mind to a gentle sleep psychosis state
- Yoga Nidra is practiced lying down (generally); meditation is practiced seated (traditionally)
- Meditation includes mindfulness to reach enlightenment; Yoga Nidra includes sleeping with conscious awareness
- Yoga Nidra and meditation are both powerful tools to allow the mind to find peace
Who is Yoga Nidra for?
Yoga Nidra is the perfect practice for those looking to find an easier way to slow down and calm their mind. It can be a great step towards meditation and even help people get familiar with the experience of Savasana. People of any age can practice Yoga Nidra but usually the people who notice the most benefits are people who live a busy lifestyle (i.e. professionals working in offices all week, people in the service industry who are on their feet and interacting with people all day long, athletes – people who move constantly, analytical/over-thinkers – those who process data all day long, the list goes on…)
It is also a safe practice for kids and can be encouraged for those underage. The language is safe and accessible and can give kids a glimpse into the world of yoga. A lot of times, school systems will provide guidance and counseling, but if students are looking for resources outside of the classroom, Yoga Nidra videos online can be a great option.
3 ways to practice Yoga Nidra
YouTube is a great resource for free, online Yoga Nidra videos. You can simply search by, “yoga nidra” and you’ll get a plethora of results – finding the right one for you is a different story. Keep your mind open and try a couple different videos before you commit to one. Be conscious of the person’s voice, what they’re talking about and also the graphics on the screen. Most Yoga Nidra videos will have some sort of healing background that relates to sleep: a black screen, dark graphics with healing images like a lotus flower, calming images of waves or lines that are easy on the eye.
Check out some Yoga Nidra videos on YouTube:
Here are some apps that feature Yoga Nidra as part of their subscription:
Your Local Studio
Check if Yoga Nidra is an offering on your local studio’s class schedule. It might also be listed on their Google Business listing under what they offer! Most studios might feature a Yoga Nidra class as a ‘workshop’ or special event if it’s not a regular class, but it never hurts to ask the studio manager or other students if there’s any type of Yoga Nidra class.
Why is it so popular/trending?
Sleep is essential to human life – and some people are not getting the proper amounts or the proper quality of rest. With such an emphasis on sleep quality, people have turned to practices like yoga to balance out their busy lives. Also, with the convenience of apps, YouTube access and online courses, people can find any type of Yoga Nidra practice they want – making it easy to tune in and tune out whenever is best for them.
The Yoga Nidra practice puts strategic rest at the forefront, allowing your mind to absorb, learn, and retain proper rest. We can’t ask for much more than that. I hope you find some meaningful rest this weekend…