Imagine that you are falling asleep. Your body experiences various stages of sleep, including the deep sleep cycle, the type of sleep during which your brain emits delta waves. During this time, you gain all the benefits of this state of being, including cell regeneration and energy restoration. Cool! Now imagine that you remain conscious for this state of being 🤔
Yoga Nidra, as a state of consciousness, a state of being, allows you to remain aware while in the deep sleep state. This is different from lucid dreaming, which can occur during the REM cycle. (Deep sleep takes place during the non-REM cycle.)
Yoga Nidra is conscious deep sleep.
[For the sake of clarity, I’ll capitalize Yoga Nidra when referring to the state of consciousness and not capitalize yoga nidra when referring to the practice.]
Being in the state of Yoga Nidra can occur during a yoga nidra practice, which usually lasts anywhere between 10 minutes to an hour. During a yoga nidra session, an instructor guides you through a deep relaxation and guided awareness that may result in you experiencing Yoga Nidra.
Just like any other yoga practice, yogic sleep takes time to adjust to and repetition to truly benefit from. Regardless of what you experience during yoga nidra, the practice is valuable. In the words of Kaya Mindlin, “Whatever happens is beneficial.”
If you stay awake, you’ll benefit by releasing physical tension.
If you fall into the REM (dream) stage, you’ll benefit from the psychological effects of dreaming.
If you fall asleep and are not aware, you still benefit from the effects of deep sleep.
And if you experience Yoga Nidra, you can resolve problematic patterns (conditioning) and experience deep bliss. It’s like soul therapy 😌
Outside of regular sleep, yoga nidra is a wonderful way to gather soma (the nectar of rejuvenation). Soma is the counterpart to agni (fire), and we need the presence of both in order to live balanced lives. In modern lifestyles, we tend to have an overabundance of agni – this depletes our soma. The imbalance is visible in our inability to rest and constant dissatisfaction.
If you’re ready to practice yoga nidra for yourself, I offer sessions every New and Full Moon (private sessions available upon request). Hope to see you soon!
P.S. The origins of this practice lie in the myth of Lord Vishnu’s slumber on the great serpent Adisesha in the cosmic ocean. You can read a summary of this legend here.