The Magic of Yoga Nidra
Updated: Feb 16
Yoga nidra (Sanskrit: योग निद्रा) or yogic sleep is a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping, like the "going-to-sleep" stage, typically induced by a guided meditation.
A specific state of consciousness
In this state the body is completely relaxed, and the practitioner becomes systematically and increasingly aware of the inner world by following a set of verbal instructions. This state of consciousness is different from meditation, in which concentration on a single focus is required. In yoga nidra the practitioner remains in a state of light withdrawal of the 5 senses (pratyahara) with four senses internalized, that is, withdrawn, and only hearing still connects to any instructions given. The goals of both yogic paths, yoga nidra and meditation are the same, a state of meditative consciousness called samadhi.
It is among the deepest possible states of relaxation while still maintaining full consciousness. In lucid dreaming, one is only, or mainly, cognizant of the dream environment, and has little or no awareness of one's actual environment. Yoga nidra results in conscious awareness of the deep sleep state, which is called prajna in the Mandukya Upanishad.
In modern times, Satyananda Saraswati claimed to have experienced yoga nidra when he was living with his guru Sivananda Saraswati in Rishikesh. He began studying the tantric scriptures and, after practice, constructed a system of relaxation which he popularized in the mid-20th century. He explained yoga nidra as a state of mind between wakefulness and sleep that opened deep phases of the mind, suggesting a connection with the ancient tantric practice called nyasa, whereby Sanskrit mantras are mentally placed within specific body parts, while meditating on each part (of the bodymind). The form of practice taught by Satyananda includes eight stages (internalisation, sankalpa, rotation of consciousness, breath awareness, manifestation of opposites, creative visualization, sankalpa and externalisation). Satyananda used this technique, along with suggestion, on the child who was to become his successor, Niranjanananda Saraswati, from the age of four. He claims to have taught him several languages by this method.
Yoga nidra meditation is associated with increased endogenous dopamine release in the ventral striatum of the brain. The reduced desire for action in the state is associated with the reduced flow of blood in parts of the brain connected with controlling actions, the prefrontal cortex, the cerebellum and the subcortex.
Yoga nidra improves heart rate variability, a measure of balance in the autonomic nervous system, whether or not it is preceded by a session of hatha yoga asanas.
The regular practice of yoga relaxation has been found to reduce tension and anxiety. The autonomic symptoms of high anxiety such as headache, giddiness, chest pain, palpitations, sweating and abdominal pain respond well.
I will offer yoga Nidra Yoga live on Youtube very soon.