Yoga Nidra: A Practice for Restoration and Renewal

By Keji Ita

As the pandemic continues to change the way we move through our daily lives, we may find ourselves more tense doing normal daily activities, such as grocery shopping, catching up with friends or even deciding to take a virtual or physical yoga class.  

Although the physical practice of yoga is beneficial, we all have days where we just want to sit down. A day where we may have just hit a wall and our bodies just need rest.  Yoga Nidra offers it’s participants deep relaxation and some practitioners have noted feeling like they’ve received a few hours of rest. It has also been known to release emotions that lie dormant within the conscious mind, especially for those that may have experienced trauma. 

What happens during Yoga Nidra?

To illicit full relaxation, Yoga Nidra is guided and practiced lying down. Usually other props would be available, such as bolsters, blankets, and pillows- anything that would assist with getting into an effortless relaxed position. 

Some Yoga Nidra practices can last between 5 minutes to 1 hour and during the first couple of sessions some may fall asleep, which is perfectly normal. The overall goal of this practice is to remain awake in the state of consciousness between sleep and falling asleep. 

The state of consciousness between sleep and falling asleep is a sweet spot where participants are completely relaxed, but may still be aware of sound or activity around them. 

To get participants to the stage of yogic sleep, yoga instructors will guide participants through eight stages:

  1. Bringing awareness to the body
  2. Setting an intention
  3. Body scanning
  4. Breathe awareness
  5. Non-attachment practice
  6. Imagery & Visualization
  7. Return to original intention
  8. Bringing awareness to the body 

Benefits of Yoga Nidra:

Yoga Nidra allows the central nervous system to begin healing while the body remains in the state of yogic sleep. Other benefits include:

  • Alleviates stress and anxiety
  • Eases insomnia
  • Heighten awareness and focus
  • Fosters feelings of peace, calm and clarity

As with all practices, it’s always important to consult with your physician, mental health practitioner, and yoga instructor if you decide to try out a Yoga Nidra class. 

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