If yoga nidra is also called "yoga of sleep", it is good because it allows our nights to be restorative. No need to practice yoga to benefit from all its benefits. Better quality sleep, favored relaxation, exploration of our interior, yoga nidra is an easy meditative practice accessible to all.
If the trend is hatha or vinyasa, yoga nidra is more suited to our hectic and overworked daily lives. It was Swami Satyananda Saraswati, an Indian spiritual master, who popularized yoga nidra in the West in the 1950s. He believed that yoga should be adapted to our modern way of life.
In Sanskrit, "nidra" means "sleep" but a conscious and meditative sleep that allows you to better connect to your inner state. We then speak of "yogic sleep" or "lucid sleep". This state of semi-awakening helps to relax the body but especially to awaken the mind, an exploration of the different levels of the unconscious. Yoga nidra acts on the whole body leading to a state of physical, mental and emotional relaxation.
Between wakefulness and sleep, a deep state of relaxation
Often called "sleep yoga", yoga nidra is practiced lying comfortably on your mat in a "savasana" relaxation position. We practice with our eyes closed to better listen to our feelings and our inner world. If necessary, we cover ourselves with a plaid or a blanket for more comfort. Throughout the relaxation, we let ourselves be guided by the voice of the teacher who invites us on a mental journey.
- The session begins with exercises to relax the body and the mind. Very often, we start with a body scan: we focus on each part of the body to promote muscle relaxation, we can also contract or stretch certain muscles (his arms, his legs, the muscles of his face) to relax them better. .
- We then turn our attention to our breathing.
- We mentally repeat a sankalpa that we will find at the end of the session. It is a stated intention, a wish formulated by an "I am" to embody that desire in the present moment. For example, "I am serene", "I am confident"
- Here we go for viewing which aims to release physical tensions and emotional blockages.
The goal is to stay focused on the teacher's voice, his feelings, the mental images throughout the session. In a state of total letting go, it sometimes happens that you fall asleep. During visualization, the mind dives into a state of consciousness, between wakefulness and sleep.
Sleep, relaxation and serenity, all the benefits of yoga nidra
It improves the quality of falling asleep and sleep: Yoga nidra brings about a state of deep relaxation conducive to falling asleep. A session allows you to release tension and prepare the body for sleep in the evening. A practice at bedtime allows deep relaxation that promotes sleep.
Moreover, yoga nidra increases theta brain waves (while in active standby, our brain mainly emits beta waves, fast waves) which correspond to deep relaxation, meditation and paradoxical sleep in which lodges dreams. By promoting quality sleep, yoga nidra maintains our good health by allowing the body to regenerate itself.
It keeps daytime and nocturnal ruminations away: When waking up, rather than rolling over in bed indefinitely in the grip of nocturnal ruminations, a yoga nidra session can have a relaxing effect and avoid getting caught up in an incessant flow of anxiety-inducing thoughts. It helps to calm the mind and to go back to sleep.
It decreases stress and anxiety: Yoga nidra is not only practiced in the evening. A daytime session offers a real moment of rest and concentration. Thanks to your meditation exercises, you let the worries go away and you refocus on yourself. About twenty minutes of relaxation helps reduce stress and provide a boost of energy. Even better than a session Power Nap (lightning nap).
It promotes reconnection with oneself: Yoga nidra allows deep and immediate relaxation. Supervised by the teacher, the session offers a safe environment conducive to letting go. A hectic daily life will have an unfortunate tendency to disconnect us from our body and our mind by drawing our attention to the external environment. Yoga nidra invites us to pay this attention to our body, our breathing, our feelings. It prompts us to refocus and reconnect with ourselves through mental images and daydreaming.
Who is yoga nidra for?
This meditative practice is for everyone but in particular:
- people who have trouble sleeping : difficulty falling asleep, nocturnal awakenings, insomnia, ruminations, anxiety when falling asleep, severe fatigue upon waking.
- to anxious people, those who sometimes have difficulty managing their emotions.
- to people prone to stress or constantly under pressure.
- to people who want to listen more to themselves.
This meditative technique is not recommended for people with mental health problems.
Group lessons or solo?
> In yoga studios or in associations in Paris but also in different regions, there are group yoga nidra classes. Lying on their mat, each student follows the teacher's voice for about 1 hour.
Once you have initiated a few sessions, you can practice at home through guided videos or audios.
> There are audio yoga nidra meditations to be found on different platforms like YouTube, Spotify, Apple Podcast.
Your special yoga nidra library
To go further, here are 3 books to discover
Yoga Nidra, a transformation technique, Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Éditions Satyanandashram France, € 28.
From theory to practice, the author discusses the benefits of yoga nidra in a yogic but also scientific way. In this book, we also learn how to apply this powerful practice in our life thanks to multiple techniques and how relaxation sessions can reduce our stress.
Yoga Nidra, 108 practices to combine to awaken to infinity, Pierre Bonnasse, Les Deux Oceans, € 18.
After a quick tour of the spirituality of yoga, and yoga nidra in particular, the author introduces us to a hundred guided meditation exercises to practice day or night, while sitting or lying down. Ideal for creating your own sessions.
Sleep to wake up: traditional yoga nidra, Almora Éditions, € 19.90
Guided by Mathieu, teacher and trainer of yoga nidra teachers since the 80s, we explore his inner states between wakefulness and lucid sleep. We let ourselves be guided by pretty invitations to travel with the audio CD.