Yoga Nidra is known as yogic sleep or sleep with awareness. It is more like a guided meditation or guided visualization. Yoga Nidra is an ancient practice that is rapidly gaining popularity for good reasons. It brings deep relaxation and rest to our nervous system. The difference between meditation and Yoga Nidra, is in meditation you stay awake and remain in a waking state of consciousness. We are taught to gently focus the mind, while allowing thought patterns, emotions, sensations, and images to arise and go on. We use a mantra, following the breath or other techniques to get us into a meditative state. With Yoga Nidra, you leave the Waking state, go past the Dreaming state, and go to Deep Sleep, yet you remain awake.
We typically spend our days in beta brain waves, an active and alert state of mind. Even when we sleep out mind can be racing, ever had those nights when you slept but didn’t and woke up exhausted because your mind was going all night? I found that Nidra took me to the next level of alpha waves, a relaxed and more passive state, into theta waves, an unconscious, half-asleep state where there are still images and streams of thought, and into the last stage of delta waves. This is a state of deep, dreamless, non-REM sleep where one still has awareness of one’s surroundings. Using this form of deep relaxation you are able to unite the left and right brains and align the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, to return the body to homeostasis. It allows healing on the physical, emotional and spiritual levels.
I have to admit I am not a good mediator. I have tried TM, breath work, mantra’s and other meditations over the years. But my mind goes around and around. When I learned Transcendental Meditation (TM) my teacher, Doc PJ, our local Breckenridge family doctor, gave me a word/sound to say over and over. While doing that I always had a song playing in the back of my mind as I was saying my mantra silently to myself. I found my mind never really shut off completely and my to do list, frustrations and monkey mind just kept playing the same old tune! I do better with guided imagery or other guided meditations or just mindful walking in nature, but until I discovered Yoga Nidra, I never known what totally shutting off the mind while still being awake and aware was like. It is something I have strived for but hadn’t ever found. That deep inner peace of being in the NOW.
According to Rod Stryker, and Yoga Journal Magazine, “We live in a chronically exhausted, overstimulated world. Yoga Nidra is a systematic method of complete relaxation, holistically addressing our physiological, neurological, and subconscious needs.”
I am very lucky to have found Chanda Klco, at Yoga Tonic here in Salida, who is trained in the Amrit style of yoga. Her class is on Tuesday’s at 4:30 to 5:30, at Yoga Tonic in Salida. She uses a variety of techniques, including guided imagery and body scanning, to aid relaxation. And unlike a quick Savasana at the end of asana practice, Yoga Nidra lasts anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes. You don’t need to wear yoga clothes or have any special gear to practice. Chanda teaches the Amrit form of Nidra and here is the link to the Amrit site explaining how it works. The ancient yoga text the Mandukya Upanishads refers to four different stages of Yoga Nidra. The practitioner begins by quieting the overactive conscious mind, then moves into a meditative state, gradually finding a state of “ultimate harmony,” in which the brain waves slow down and a subtle euphoria emerges. “Yoga Nidra uniquely unwinds the nervous system,” Stryker says, “which is the foundation of the body’s well-being.”
If you would like more information on Yoga Nidra in you area just google Yoga Nidra (your area) and practitioners will come up in your area. If you can’t find someone in your area, there are CD’s online at Amazon, iTunes (Link to a free download), Sounds True and YouTube. Find one that feels right for you!
I found this on the Amrit Page for Yoga Nidra and thought it summed this article up nicely.
Imagine your life unfolding as you always wanted.
See yourself letting go of the past.
Envision yourself free of worries about the present or frustrations about the future.
Picture a life of relaxed acceptance and fulfillment beyond your wildest dreams.