Yoga Nidra


Yoga Nidra is an ancient deep meditation and relaxation technique from India. Yoga Nidra was first written about in the Upanishads. These are ancient Sanskrit writings that date back to the sixth and seventh centuries B.C. They form a dialogue between teachers and students in which major questions of life are addressed. It was Swami Satyananda Saraswati (1923 - 2009) who created the modern relaxation technique Yoga Nidra around 1950. His own experience was the basis for its development and emergence. In the 1940s, he kept watch over a Sanskrit school at night. While he himself slept from 3:00 to 6:00, the boys got up at 4:00 to chant. When Satyananda heard the boys chanting the mantras at a meeting some time later, they looked very familiar to him, but he did not know how. His teacher Swami Sivananda Saraswati told him that he was not surprised because he had heard the mantras often enough in his sleep. He himself had experienced that information does not have to be processed and absorbed directly by the senses, but that in deep sleep a part of the consciousness remained alert. He studied texts from Tantric yoga in which liberation and expansion of the mind is paramount and used techniques from this in connection with his own experiences and thus arrived at Yoga Nidra.

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The potential of Yoga Nidra was known centuries ago, but it is modern technology that allows the different types of brainwaves to be visible and measurable. In Yoga Nidra, you descend further and further into the delta brainwaves, into a state of deep sleep where you can still be aware of your surroundings. You go beyond the state of dreaming, beyond deep sleep, but are still 'on' through alertness and presence. You are then in the realm of the unconscious.

For Western people, Yoga Nidra is a difficult method to practise. People today want to be in control, are always busy and hardly ever stop for a moment. They live mainly in their heads. Yoga Nidra is a training to invite your system to experience, observe and just be with what is, without wanting to change it, without judgment.

What is Yoga Nidra and for whom?

Yoga Nidra is also known as 'the sleep of the yogi'. In this yoga form you lie on your back (in Savasana) throughout the session. This is the most effortless and balanced resting posture for deep relaxation. You may know this posture as the final relaxation at the end of a yoga class or when doing a body scan, but neither is the same as Yoga Nidra.

Yoga Nidra is often confused with a body scan, but is a systematic, fixed sequence of experiences to the deeper layers of your consciousness through which you eventually arrive at the being experience where healing occurs. The experiences to the deeper layers include the circumambulation of consciousness (this is often referred to as body scan); vital energies and breath; sensations, feelings and emotions; ego identification, representations, images/symbols and visualisations and finally happiness experiences. In a body scan, you only touch one layer, while Yoga Nidra takes you to the deeper layers of yourself and beyond deep sleep, beyond dreams, to full awareness. Yoga Nidra is a systematic approach based on Pratyahara, the withdrawal of your senses and external stimuli, but your listening and feeling remains active. Using a series of breathing, body and awareness techniques, the teacher's verbal guidance helps you enter a deeper state of relaxation, of 'non-doing'. You bring your body into the deepest relaxation physically, mentally and emotionally, while remaining fully conscious. You do not fall asleep in Yoga Nidra, but balance on a boundary between a state of wakefulness and sleep. It is a form of meditation that leads you to subconscious layers of yourself allowing you to clean up your system. It purifies the nerve pathways to your brain. In deepest relaxation, a healing energy can flow from the body, freeing you from the limitations of the mind that go beyond time and space. Translated with (free version)
Yoga Nidra is een systematische aanpak die gebaseerd is op Pratyahara, het terugtrekken van je zintuigen en externe prikkels, maar je luisteren en voelen blijft actief. Met een serie van adem-, lichaams- en bewustzijnstechnieken helpt de verbale begeleiding van de docent je om in een diepere staat van ontspanning, van ‘non-doing’, te komen. Je brengt je lichaam fysiek, mentaal en emotioneel in de diepste ontspanning, terwijl je volledig bij bewustzijn blijft. Je valt niet in slaap bij Yoga Nidra, maar balanceert op een grens tussen een staat van waken en slapen. Het is een vorm van meditatie die je leidt naar onderbewuste lagen van jezelf waardoor je je systeem kunt opschonen. Het zuivert de zenuwbanen naar je hersenen. In de diepste ontspanning kan een helende energie vanuit het lichaam stromen en bevrijd je van de beperkingen van de geest die voorbijgaan aan tijd en ruimte.

Yoga Nidra can be practised by everyone. It can be helpful for people who sleep badly and suffer from sleep deprivation. As you descend into a deep state of being, you come to a deeper connection with yourself and experience a deeper sense of peace and calm. In order not to miss the point of Yoga Nidra, this form is practised without music, but you follow the instructions of the yoga teacher. In Yoga Nidra you do not fall asleep, but remain conscious. If this should happen, it is not a problem. The effect continues, but the intention is not to fall asleep. To achieve the desired effect, the minimum duration of a Yoga Nidra session is half an hour to three quarters of an hour. Otherwise you do not reach the deeper layers of yourself and your system cannot recover. 45 minutes of Yoga Nidra equals three hours of sleep.

Effects of Yoga Nidra

Yoga Nidra

Watch a preview of a Yoga Nidra practice here