Imagine you’re waking up from an amazing dream, one that brought you great joy. You slowly open your eyes, glance out the window to see the morning sun peering through the curtains. The trees sway outside and a gentle smile sweeps across your face as you witness the beautiful day ahead.
We’ve all experienced those mornings when we wake to the simplicity that is existing. When worry is not at the surface of the brain and instead, a deep sense that everything is actually okay. In this time of unrest in our society, we are looking for ways to meet this blissful state more often. We are turning to eastern practices like meditation and yoga as a necessity to soothe our minds. One in particular, has been finding its way into our culture, called Yoga Nidrā.
The Bliss Of Yoga But Without Having To Move
Yoga Nidrā is an ancient practice traced back to 700 BC in India, defined as “conscious sleep.” With the goal to turn the mind away from the external world and instead, inward. Observing our internal state from a place of reflection—witnessing the outside world rather than reacting to it.
Sounds so simple right? If it was, society wouldn’t be in such a state of emotional unease. The good news is, those who practice Yoga Nidrā (myself included) find it to be helpful for alleviating many negative emotions such as:
- Anxious thoughts
- Feelings of depression
- Foggy brain
- Lack of focus
- Limiting beliefs
- Sleep tension
In the current state of the world, we are especially prone to these feelings. In western culture, we often associate our emotional state with what we are preserving around us. Whereas in eastern philosophies, it is our internal world or ego, that controls our emotions.
How Yoga Nidrā Works
According to ancient teachings, there are “five layers of the self.” Said in Sanskrit as Pancha Maya Kosha. These five layers are our physical body, energetic/subtle body, mental state, wisdom, and our bliss body. The practice of Yoga Nidrā takes the listener on a journey through each one of these “bodies.”
Unlike other traditional meditation practices, Yoga Nidrā begins lying down. A teacher then guides the listener through diaphragmatic breathing and spoken visualization. Allowing for deep relaxation into a state that is neither sleeping nor awake. When the listener awakes, there is a feeling of rest and again, like waking from a beautiful dream.
How to bring Yoga Nidrā into your self-care routine
With a practice like Yoga Nidrā, begin by focusing on what in your life needs soothing. Use the practice as often as feels comfortable for your lifestyle and needs. For instance, if you are experiencing insomnia, use the practice in bed before sleep.
Meditation and yoga can be done without a teacher, but Yoga Nidrā is a guided practice that can be done at any time of the day. Explore different practitioners to find one that you like. The app InsightTimer has a vast library of free Yoga Nidrā teachers with different focuses. Once you bring it into your routine, try sticking to it for at least a month. Notice how your conscious mind feels after a few weeks of practice.
Use Yoga Nidrā as a tool to help find inner peace or as an integrative practice alongside yoga. Be gentle with yourself as you explore the practice. Addressing stress, anxiety, and depression in a holistic way can take time and patience. But it can start with simply finding a place to lay down, enter into stillness, and allow for a conscious sleep to wash over you.