I heard the term yoga nidra for the first time in 2013 when I went to a weekend yoga retreat during which the teacher set us up for yoga nidra. She asked us if any of knew about yoga nidra. One other participant who didn’t want to give it away exclaimed, “it’s delicious” and it was!
You probably practiced it as deep relaxation at the end of yoga classes without knowing what it is and how it works. Yoga nidra is translated as divine sleep or sleep of the yogis. It’s a form of passive meditation which is usually done lying down on a yoga mat with the eyes closed and listening to the instructions offered by the teacher. It’s more relaxing that sleep.
I got fascinated with it when I attended Jennifer Reis’s workshop on yoga nidra. She explained that it is a meditation that systematically guides and relaxes you at every level of your being taking your consciousness to the innermost layer of consciousness which is the bliss body. Human consciousness has five layers (Koshas) of awareness: physical, energetic, mental, emotional and spiritual layers. Nidra does this through body scanning, breath awareness, music or imagery, pairs of opposites. She explains so beautifully that when you are guided through body scanning, your physical body relaxes because it feels acknowledged and opens the secret window to the next layer of awareness. By subsequent guidance through breath awareness, the breath body or the energy body relaxes giving entry to the next inner layer. Thus nidra progressively takes your consciousness to the innermost layer. Just identifying with this innermost layer is deeply relaxing and healing.
Many studies published in pubmed.com shows that regular yoga nidra practice is a viable means to prevent and reverse numerous ailments including insomnia, cardiovascular, stress, respiratory, diabetes, pain, metabolic, trauma and psychosomatic conditions.
It’s said that doing 20mins of yoga nidra will offer the benefit of sleeping for three hours. Some of the best times to do it are during sunrise, sunset, before meals, any other time when you need stress relief. I normally do it to get over a headache, to feel refreshed when I am tired, when I am stressed, when I want to nap after a meal and when I can’t go to sleep. It’s less expensive than going for acupuncture with similar stress-relief benefits. Sometimes when I am extremely stressed, I would go to an acupunture session while listening to a nidra tracks from my phone.