Yoga Nidra, commonly known as yogic sleep, is an immensely powerful meditation technique that is easy to develop and maintain.
While you rest comfortably in savasana, your instructor will vocally and systematically guide you through the practice. You’ll start at one end of your body and work all the way to the other. Yoga Nidra instructors speak rhythmically: “Right big toe, right little toe, top of the foot, the heel of the foot, calf muscle…”
By bringing your attention repeatedly to these sensations in your body, you become habituated and can even forget the sensation altogether. This forgetting of the space around you lets you draw your attention inward.
Anyone can do Yoga Nidra: While not everyone can participate in intense vinyasa flows, everyone – from children to seniors – can practice Yoga Nidra. All you need to do is lie down on the floor, though it can be done seated if necessary.
You cannot incorrectly practice Yoga Nidra: All you have to do is follow the voice – whether instructor or recording – as it guides you. You’ll experience something new each time, which is great! And falling asleep is even okay, as you’ll still receive the benefits from your unconscious mind.
It’s a simple way to reduce stress: As you can imagine, feeling well-rested is life-changing, but Yoga Nidra also improves symptoms of anxiety and depression for many practitioners.
Yoga Nidra is easy to incorporate into your life: Since it’s always guided, you will experience less frustration compared to trying to clear your mind all on your own. Also, this practice can be as short as five minutes or as long as an hour.
It helps you learn about yourself more intimately: Yoga Nidra offers a space to explore whatever you need and come face-to-face with long-held emotions.
Start by setting an intention for your practice – whether your goal is to relax and rest or to dig into a particular emotion or sensation.
As you wait for your instructor to begin leading you, take a few moments to scan your body. Move your awareness from top to bottom, preparing for the guided meditation to follow.
Throughout the practice, be aware of your breath. Simply observe the natural flow of oxygen and the rise and fall of your abdomen. Notice the flowing energy that your breath stimulates throughout your body.
Welcome your feelings and thoughts without trying to change any sensations or emotions that are present. As you sense each one, try to welcome its opposite within your body. For example, if you feel worried, call up feelings of serenity. Experience sensations of joy or bliss that spread throughout your body.
As you transition back into your waking life, pause to take a moment of reflection and gratitude for the time you’ve taken to benefit yourself.