Yoga nidra, often called yogic sleep, is a passive style of guided meditation used to induce deep relaxation and promote relief from anxiety and other mental and emotional ailments. It has been utilized by yogis for thousands of years to help bring integration to the pancha maya kosha, or five layers of self (mental/emotional, physical, energetic, higher wisdom and bliss body). The main difference between seated meditation and yoga nidra is that yoga nidra is completely guided. Many practitioners find it easier to get to a relaxed state by being able to focus on listening to instructions, rather than being responsible for guiding themselves. Additionally, because yoga nidra occurs in a lying down position and requires no special props or accessories, it is a practice suitable to almost any person regardless of physical age or ability.
When beginning a yoga nidra session, the practitioner is instructed to come to a reclined position on the floor; if desired, a bolster can be used to support the legs, and blankets are recommended to keep the practitioner warm throughout the session. If lying on the floor is not accessible, this practice can be done in a reclining chair, or even on a bed. Sessions can be as short as a couple of minutes, or up to an hour in length. The instructor will slowly take the practitioner through a slow, systematic meditation, bringing attention to the breath, the body, the heart or intention, and consciousness. When the practice of yoga nidra is complete, the instructor will gently bring the practitioner back to wakefulness slowly and with care. Most people feel calm, relaxed and well-rested following the practice.
Yoga nidra sessions are offered at many yoga studios as regular classes or more in-depth workshops. However, for those who prefer to practice at home, there are countless pre-recorded yoga nidra meditations on YouTube that can be done at any time. Tracee Stanley’s book Radiant Rest: Yoga Nidra for Deep Relaxation and Awakened Clarity is an incredible resource for building a home practice for beginners and more experienced practitioners alike. With new studies showing the positive effects of yoga nidra, linking it to reduced symptoms of anxiety and increased feelings of well-being, it is likely that it will become even more accessible in the years to come. The practice is easy to develop and maintain, and its positive effects are immediate. Give it a try and awaken a deeper connection to your own radiant wisdom.
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