Yoga nidra is an ancient but little-known yogic practice that's becoming increasingly popular as a form of meditation and a mind-body therapy. It is a systematic form of guided relaxation that typically is done for 35 to 40 minutes at a time lying on the floor or ground but it can be as short as 15 mins. It has been proven to help with anxiety, addiction, stress and healing psychological wounds. It also often brings immediate physical benefits such as better sleep, sense of joy and well-being.
Richard Miller says that "in yoga nidra, we restore our body, senses, and mind to their natural function and awaken a seventh sense that allows us to feel no separation, that only sees wholeness, tranquility, and well-being".
Yoga nidra or yogic sleep is a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping, like the "going-to-sleep" stage, typically induced by a guided meditation. It is a state in which the body is completely relaxed, and the practitioner becomes systematically and increasingly aware of the inner world by following a set of verbal instructions.
In a typical yoga nidra session, a teacher guides practitioners through several stages. We start by developing an intention for your life and for the practice which we call a sankalpa. Then we focus on awareness of your breath, bodily sensations by scanning the body, emotions, and thoughts. Unlike other forms of meditation, in which you focus on a mantra or on your breath, yoga nidra asks you simply to let go and follow the teachers guidance without analysing it. It is among the deepest possible states of relaxation while still maintaining full consciousness.
As a meditation technique, yoga nidra offers a gentle approach than traditional seated meditation.