Yoga nidra is also known as yogic sleep or sleep with awareness. It is an ancient practice involving a state of conscious deep sleep. Yoga nidra is rapidly gaining popularity in the West, since it is a very simple practice that is accessible to everyone. It is a deep relaxation technique with a lot of benefits including deep rest, release of tension, better sleep and improved memory. During a yoga nidra practice you are gaining access to the unconscious mind in a conscious way. If you practice meditation, you remain in the waking state of consciousness while gently focusing the mind and allowing thought patterns, emotions and sensations to arise and go on. In yoga nidra, you leave the waking state, go through the dreaming state, and into the deep sleep state, yet remain awake. If you stay in the state between waking and sleeping for a significant period of time, a state similar to that of deep sleep will be induced. The difference is that you are still aware of the external world. Your awareness is active while your body and mind deeply relaxes.
A yoga nidra class involves a variety of techniques – guided imagery and body scanning among others – to aid relaxation. The savasana is an important pose at the end of the asana practice which takes at least 20 to 45 minutes. This allows enough time for the practitioners to physiologically and psychologically sink into it. Yoga nidra is one of the deepest of all meditations and results in an incredible calmness, quietness and clarity.
Nowadays most people live in a chronically exhausted, overstimulated world. Therefore, yoga nidra can be very helpful, since it provides you with a full-body relaxation by unwinding the nervous system and a deep meditative state of consciousness. During the visualization stage of yoga nidra the contents of your unconscious mind can arise and be integrated into your conscious experience. Your task is to remain the witness of this experience while viewing the contents of the mind as a movie. This is reasonable easy to do in the deeply relaxed state of yoga nidra. Though, in the every day waking state it is usually hard to remain the witness. We react, interact, express and thereby often give the negative patterns more energy and attention. The continuous practice of yoga nidra will therefore benefit your everyday life by remaining aware of your behavioural and mind patterns. This allows you to live from your true authentic self – openly and freely.