Yoga Nidra, also known as “yogic sleep,” is a technique that takes your body and mind on a systematic journey of relaxation. As described by Russell Herbert Jack, Southland Yoga Training founder, the technique consists of several stages: Inward focus, Sankalpa, the rotation of consciousness, creative visualization, Sankalpa, and outward focus.
What is Yoga Nidra?
Yoga Nidra is a combination of relaxation techniques and meditation. Resting comfortably on the floor in savasana — or corpse pose — your yoga instructor, will help you to check-in physically and will then guide you through an exploration of what is known as Pancha Maya kosha (the five layers of self).
One critical element is the incorporation of Sankalpa or a positive intention. Usually, a short, simple phrase or sentence, a Sankalpa, is a statement about the positive change you would like to bring about yourself. Whether you’re channeling a sense of presence, peace, or grounding, your Sankalpa should be a deeply felt personal message.
How to Practice Yoga Nidra
Unlike other forms of yoga, there is no wrong way to practice Yoga Nidra. You simply lie on the floor in a savasana pose with your back flat to the ground and your arms and legs at rest. To begin your practice, take a look inward to try to find a sense of stillness. Close your eyes, take deep breaths and try to center yourself.
At this point, you should develop your Sankalpa, trying to find the phrase that touches on a deeply held desire. Once you find your Sankalpa, repeat it silently to yourself, like a kind of chant.
The next state is rotating consciousness. Your teacher will guide you to focus your awareness on specific parts of your body, such as your left hand or right leg. Rotating consciousness intends to help you find any tension areas that you may be holding and learn to relax them.
Creative visualization comes next. During this process, you’ll be asked to visualize your Sankalpa being true. Your body isn’t wired to tell the difference between something you see and something you imagine you see. By practicing creative visualization, you will more fully embody the positive intention that guides your Yoga Nidra.
After this visualization, you’ll prepare yourself to reenter the world, taking deep breaths and repeating your Sankalpa. When your practice ends, you should feel refreshed and relaxed.
Benefits of Yoga Nidra
The deep relaxation achieved with Yoga Nidra is beneficial for all kinds of health-related problems. For instance, Yoga Nidra can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, especially those related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It can also help to relieve chronic pain, such as the pain experienced by people with fibromyalgia.
Yoga Nidra can also improve your sleep patterns. Whether your practice is just before bed, during lunchtime, or first thing in the morning, Yoga Nidra helps train your body to relax. In fact, studies suggest that only thirty minutes of Yoga Nidra is comparable to nearly four hours of sleep!
About Russell Herbert Jack
Russell Herbert Jack, Southland based yoga instructor in Invercargill, New Zealand, is passionate about spirituality, the vegan lifestyle, animal rights, and living in sync with nature. Russell specializes in Vinyasa Yoga, Qigong, and guided meditations. Vinyasa yoga or flow yoga heightens consciousness by moving from one position to another seamlessly using breath. Just like Vinyasa Yoga, Qigong has many healing properties to the body, mind, and spirit.