What is Yoga Nidra?
Yoga Nidra is a practice similar to meditation, often described as the state between wakefulness and sleep. In this state, we are deeply relaxed and can access the different layers of our brains - like we do when we are sleeping (hence dreams, nightmares and sleep memories). The practice of Yoga Nidra is usually 30 minutes to 1 hour long, participants getting as cosy as possible at the start of class, and listening to the guidance of the meditation.
I was first introduced to Yoga Nidra 2 years ago when my teacher unexpectedly began guiding us at the end of a Vinyasa class. I was intrigued with how I felt afterwards, and began to fall in love with the depth of the practice. In 2019 I decided to take a training with the lovely Kelly Smith (check out her meditation podcast here). I began teaching and writing Yoga Nidra's last year (I now have many self-written Yoga Nidra's available on Youtube for free), and have continued to practice regularly.
Through this time, I have seen a real change occurring in my practice and life beyond the mat... here I'm sharing just 3 of those ways, in the hope of inspiring you to try out this wonderful practice.
1. More Energy!
It is said that 45 minutes of Yoga Nidra is equal to 3 hours of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. This is the deepest level of sleep - one where we are hard to wake and where our dreams are accessed. REM sleep is the best way for our body to rest: there is low muscle tone and increased oxygen use by the brain; allowing for rest and recuperation to our bodies, while the brain sorts through memories and accounts of the day.
For me, accessing this deep state of meditation has huge impacts on my energy. Doing a guided Yoga Nidra for 30-45 minutes makes me feel well-rested, less anxious and has a positive impact on my mood. The science behind this is that Yoga Nidra, alongside meditation, have a restorative impact on our endocrine (hormonal) and nervous system, and these two systems literally control our mood, anxiety levels, and stress response. Pretty magical!
Try my Yoga Nidra for Wellbeing here.
2. Intentions Manifest
One of the most powerful ways Yoga Nidra has changed my life is through the work of intentions, or Sankalpa. We often set intentions in our Yoga practice at the start of class or meditation. In Yoga Nidra this is slightly different - an intention is planted deep within our minds and bodies as we arrive at the REM state of rest. This means that the subconscious mind (in yoga this is often referred to as Atman, our true self) can work with this intention.
Example intention: 'I am enough, I let go of my worries' (intentions are always positively skewed). Try my Yoga Nidra for self-acceptance here.
3. Becoming Still
Yoga Nidra is unlike other forms of yoga as there is no movement within the practice; the body is supported fully and can completely let go of any muscular effort. This makes is one of the most accessible forms of yoga - anyone with a body can practice! I love the practice for this.
If you've ever been to one of my Vinyasa classes (online, through Youtube or in person) you'll know we do a lot of moving! I really enjoy the fluidity of a dynamic yoga practice, and Yoga Nidra forces us to become comfortable with longer periods of stillness, to check in with our innermost selves, and to become quiet.
Try my Yoga Nidra for Uncertain Times here.