Understanding yoga nidra
We may ask ourselves what is yoga nidra? During yoga nidra the body sleeps but the mind remains alert, awake & aware whilst listening to the instructions. Literally, yoga nidra means ‘psychic sleep‘ i.e. sleep with complete awareness. In psychology, the state achieved in yoga nidra is termed the hypnogogic state, a state between sleep & wakefulness.
As we learn to access this state between sleep & wakefulness (whilst maintaining full awareness) we begin to experience the subtle ‘sleepless sleep’; we are only touching on the superficial aspects here as its depth, meaning & significance go far beyond this.
What is yoga nidra – exactly?
An unenlightened man (an ignorant man – one who is asleep) is dreaming constantly, even whilst he is awake. Such a person is unaware of this occurrence as everything appears real to him, as his sensory functions are extroverted & contaminated via sense impressions. Once established in full awareness & the sensory contacts are withdrawn, one then begins to witness the dream.
Of course what we envisage & dream at night are only a miniscule part of this totality, through time yoga nidra re-establishes this. It was Swami Satyananda Saraswati who adapted ancient tantric practice called nyasa and presented the practice of yoga nidra, in a systematic and scientific way.
“A single hour of yoga nidra is as restful as four hours of conventional sleep.” – Swami Satyananda