What is Yoga Nidra
Yoga Nidra also know as "yogic sleep" is a guided meditation to bring your mind and body into deep rest. Through this deep rest you can access your delta brainwaves which you typically get during sleep. Delta brainwaves allow your body and mind to heal and recover, helping to minimise stress, anxiety and overall body recovery.
Steps of a yoga nidra
The best way to prepare for a yoga nidra is to find a comfortable quiet space, that will not be disturbed during your practice. Wear comfortable clothing, the key is relaxation so anything you feel fully comfortable in. Lay on a yoga mat, carpet or bed. It is best if you have a pillow or two, one for under your head and one for behind your knee's, as well as a blanket. When immersing yourself in a yoga nidra there is a tendency to get cold, socks can be great but a blanket is a must. Dim the lights or wear an eye mask. Now your ready for your yoga nidra, but what should you expect?
Yoga nidra is performed laying on your back in a comfortable position. Finding the position that you can most deeply relax in is important.
Sankalpa or Resolve
The second step you will be asked to state a sankalpa or resolve, this is a positive "I am" statement that is something you deeply desire in your life. This can not be for material gain only for personal growth. Examples may be "I am loved", "I am resilient", "I am well rested", or "I am creative" whatever speaks to you and the journey you are on. This is a truly personal statement and you will used the same one until you feel that way all the time.
The third stage is the body scan, this is a mental exercise in which you will be guided to multiple body parts, your job is to follow along and try to connect to each body part. This is a relatively quick scan but it allows you to find a connection to your body, one that we often ignore in our day to day lives.
This stage draws attention to the breath. This could simply mean to observe your natural breath or to deepen it or even to count your breaths. Each yoga nidra is unique and you will be guided through this breath portion in many different ways in this practice.
During your exploration of opposites you will be asked to feel, two different extremes, this could be hot and cold, heavy or light, happy or sad. You will be guided into each of these feelings and will hop back and forth between them. The experience of this jump from one extreme to the other allows new neurological pathways to develop in your brain, making it easier for you to find happiness out of sadness, or feel light if you are feeling heavy.
The next stage in your yoga nidra is a visualisation exercise, this could be you following along with a story that is told, and you visualising as much or as little of the story that feels right. This could also be to visualise certain objects and just to picture them in your minds eye.
You will once again be brought back to your sankalpa or your resolve. This should remain the same through this practice. This is a way to bring this positive I am statement home again allowing it to grow in strength in your mind and body.
This part of the practice is you coming back to your body. This is a slow stage and shouldn't be rushed. You will slowly be brought back to the reality around you to a point where you will eventually sit up and open your eyes.
How do you feel at the end of a Yoga Nidra?
Yoga nidra should leave you in a state of complete relaxation or allow you to drift into sleep, if you choose. If you are getting up after you will typically find you are thirsty and possibly slightly cool. Take your time moving out of your yoga nidra nap as your body needs to adjust to reality again. You may feel like you are buzzing with energy, or feeling sleepy, both these feelings are natural. The amount of nightly sleep you get often dictate how you will feel. If you are short on sleep, your body may feel sluggish, telling you to get more sleep. If you are well rested, you may feel energised and ready to tackle any task ahead of you.