Yoga Nidra literally translates as a “ Yogic sleep” – yet rather than a sleep it is actually an awakening. It is a way to inducing complete mental, emotional and physical relaxation. Yoga Nidra is an ancient meditation technique with deep roots in Indian traditions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. Yoga nidra, is among the deepest possible states of relaxation while still maintaining full consciousness. It may often be referred to as “lucid dreaming” ; the difference being the degree to which one remains cognizant of the actual physical environment as opposed to when we are in a dream environment.
Whilst sleeping we lose track of ourselves but in yoga nidra, even though we are in a state of deep relaxation, there is an inward lucidity which enables us to recall our experiences later.
Yoga Nidra became popular in the mid-20th century at the hands of Swami Satyananda who experienced Yoga Nidra whilst studying with his teacher Swami Sivananda in Rishikesh and began to develop this system of relaxation. He explained it as “a state of mind between wakefulness and sleep that opened into deeper aspects of the mind”.
And as my teachers Uma and Nirlipta Dunsmore-Tuli describe, “Yoga nidra is not a practice, but a state of being; not a technique but more of a process for entering into certain states of consciousness.” Likewise US pyschologist Richard Miller who has been engaged with the practice for over 40 years describes the goal of Yoga Nidra as “the release of self-destructive patterns and recognition of ourselves as self-awareness.” Yoga Nidra has many therapeutic uses and has been applied for healing and relaxation purposes with patients suffering from stress, anxiety, sleep-related conditions, post traumatic stress disorder, MS and cancer. It can also be used for problem solving, creativity and our personal and spiritual growth. Yoga Nidra sessions are available to be used for personal use at home (with recordings), shared in a group setting, and in one-to-one sessions.