What is Yoga Nidra, and why is it such a powerful practice?
Yoga is about uniting mind and body. Anxious stressed mind, in an exhausted mind for example. Ideally we’d have a mind that matches the body, we’re able to feel stress and pressure, and then get back to comfortable baseline.
Yoga is a practice of awakening, waking up to thoughts, beliefs, habits that don’t align with our truest desires… Which is where the journaling helps because you get to work all of that stuff out.
Nidra simply means ‘sleep.’ A practice of Yoga Nidra is a sleep state where mind and body unite. It is however; much more than relaxation. Yoga Nidra is a chance to access a higher state of consciousness. We’re normally in one of three states; awake, asleep or dreaming. Nidra grants us rare access to a fourth state, who we really are!
In recent years Nidra has become very popular, and I’m excited, I think that speaks to where we are on our global timeline… People are waking up to the need to relax, and taking responsibility for the direction of their life.
For plants to grow, a gardener needs to prepare the land, you can’t just chuck seeds on the ground, they won’t germinate. Many people make intellectual resolves, or wishes like this, and they rarely bring results. This is because the resolve is not planted deeply enough, made when the mind is disturbed, or when the mind is not ready to receive it.
The practice starts with sensing your body and breathing in specific ways in order to trigger the relaxation response. You don’t need to say anything during the practice, just lie down and rest.
During the practice of nidra you're invited to choose a sankalpa. I find it helpful to think of it as a heartfelt desire. This is a short, positive statement in simple language; try to discover one naturally.
This term comes from the Sanskrit roots san, meaning "a connection with the highest truth," and kalpa, meaning "vow." Thus, it translates to denote an affirming resolve to do something or achieve something spiritual.
Unlike a goal, which is a personal need to accomplish something, the concept of sankalpa turns inward to connect with the heart's highest intention. A goal can be thought of as an individual's will, while the sankalpa is the universal will. A sankalpa is a positive declaration or affirmation, such as “peace is my true nature,” rather than the ego-driven “I want peace in my life.”
The sankalpa is most resonant during yoga nidra, a state of very deep relaxation. It is believed that when the mind is relaxed, the sankalpa can be written on the subconscious. It may also be repeated in the morning, before meditation, or at the beginning of any yoga asana practice.
If you're local to Brighton and Hove, I'm inviting you to my Restorative Yoga and Nidra Workshop Sunday 6th October. Click here for details.
And for the chance to sew the seeds of change, join me on retreat.