YOUR PRACTICAL ROUTE TO THE DEEPEST REST
Yes. This is yoga nidra: an effortless horizontal meditation upon the threshold of sleep. Yoga nidra is one of the fastest-growing forms of yoga in the world today, a hugely practical, nurturing, and healing practice that originates in India. Yoga nidra is an ancient form of yoga that helps you relax and hover in the magical space on the threshold of sleep – effectively it’s a meditation on the moment of falling asleep. The precious state of yoga nidra -which literally means the ‘sleep of the yogis’ or ‘yogic sleep’ – is described in many ancient South Asian epic poems. Yoga Nidra Shakti herself, the goddess who embodies the power of sleep, even shows up as a super-powerful deity
in an ancient sixth-century hymn to the triumph of the Divine Mother. Fully armed and dangerous, the great Goddess Yoga Nidra sends Vishnu, the sustainer of the known universe, into such a deep sleep that no one else can wake him up. Yes – yoga nidra is that powerful. But yoga nidra is not simply an ancient form of horizontal meditation for deities, it’s a deeply practical and accessible way to transform your relationship to sleep, stress, and creativity. It’s so simple that you can easily practise at home. And you don’t need a teacher. This supremely restful yoga requires no physical movement whatsoever. Instead, you listen to a special recording and are skilfully talked into the fringes of sleep. Hovering there, you often drop off. It’s the perfect antidote for insomnia and chronic under-sleepness: yoga nidra is horizontal yoga meditation under your blanket or duvet. Think restful yoga on the sofa or in bed, or even in a hammock, on a beach, in the back seat of your car, or on buses and trains. The practical applications are limitless -because once you get the hang of it you can practice anywhere, anytime you need to re-boot your brain and refresh your body.
Yoga nidra is not simply an ancient form of horizontal meditation for deities, it’s a deeply practical and accessible way to transform your relationship to sleep, stress and creativity.
PRACTICAL TOP TIP
If you want to practice yoga nidra in transit, be sure to pick a recording that’s precisely the length of your journey so you don’t miss your stop!
RESTFUL YOGA FOR DEEP SLEEP
Maybe you can’t get to sleep, or you’re nodding off in meetings, or waking up in the middle of the night totally wired? Maybe you drop straight into a deep sleep the moment your exhausted head hits the pillow, but then you’re wide awake at 4 am, terrified the rest of your day will crash and burn because you’ve only had three hours of sleep? Thankfully yoga nidrci can offer you the perfect practical response to exhaustion, anxiety, and stress. The practice effectively helps us make friends with restfulness so we can fall asleep more easily. Practising yoga nidrci reminds our body and mind how to rest so that the processes of winding down, switching off, and drifting into deep sleep become familiar and comforting processes. This is helpful as an antidote to stress-filled lives that keep us in the wakeful state all day long so that we actually forget what it feels like to rest, and then we can find it very difficult to enter the sleep state even when we are tired. It’s a potent balm for sleepless nights and brain-dead afternoons. Yoga nidra has the effect of reducing stress so you can sleep better, and it can boost your creativity.
WHO CAN PRACTICE YOGA NIDRA?
It’s probably the most inclusive and accessible yoga practice in the world. Pretty much anyone can do it. Anyone who can breathe, and anyone who has ever, even once in their lives, fallen asleep, can practice yoga nidra they have already encountered this state naturally. It’s part of the cyclical processes of falling asleep and waking up. It is a conscious meditation upon the very natural cycles of falling asleep, resting, and awakening. Practising yoga nidra is like skipping straight to everyone’s favourite part of the yoga class – without all the moving around first! This makes it an ideal choice for your asana-resistant housemate, partner, or mate who is allergic to leggings and is so stressed they can’t sleep. It’s also helpful for people who can’t move at all and can be used for recovery after surgery or illness, or to support healing during temporary and chronic conditions as diverse as Covid, fibromyalgia, and cancer. Whatever state you find yourself in -in sickness or in health – all you need to do is to lie down and listen; notice what happens and be with just that. The more you practice yoga nidra, the more easily you can cultivate the capacity to drop off anytime you need, because you have been practising falling asleep.
HOW TO PRACTICE YOGA NIDRA
Here’s how it works: all you do is rest for around twenty minutes, listening to a yoga nidra recording as body, mind, and spirit naturally restore themselves to balance and quiet. You don’t even need to pay any attention, just be there and hear the voice. And rest. Very deeply. How does the magic of yoga nidra happen? Neurologically speaking, what is actually going on inside your head during yoga nidra is a gradual settling of electrical activity in the brain. As you rest, your brain waves cycle down from high-stress top levels of Beta (extreme anxiety), through restful reveries of Alpha waves and down into dreamy states of Theta waves until you may, quite likely, come to rest for a while in Delta waves of deepest sleep, where vital repair and restoration happens. It will take you about 15 or 20 minutes a day and you don’t need to move a muscle to do it. Yoga nidra is the most accessible, simple, and effective of all yoga practices, and it does not require a yoga studio or a yoga teacher, or any special equipment or clothing. All you need is a space to lie down and listen. That’s it.