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Why Yoga Nidra?

Said to be four times as restorative as sleep, this is the meditation practice that I feel most drawn to practice and share, but what is Yoga Nidra, and why give it a go?

Yoga Nidra (also more recently known outside of yogaland as Non Sleep Deep Rest) is often translated as ‘Yogic Sleep’, however sleeping is not (always) the intention. But if you start snoozing, no big deal, it's likely that is simply what you really need.

It's an audible practice to receive, lying down in any way that feels comfy to you, with nothing to 'do'. There is no ‘wrong’ way.

The Yoga Nidra space invites us to rest in the liminal state between awake and asleep, known as the Hypnagogic or Alpha/Theta brain wave state.

  • Alpha brain waves are the ones we experience when awake, daydreaming, meditating or having slow gentle thoughts.

  • Theta brain are the ones we experience in dreamy sleep.

In this boundary state between the two we have access to the conscious and subconscious. Its thought the brain is at its most flexible in this creative and rejuvenating space.

Nidra always feels like deep nourishment to me. And in a time where 'busy' is often worn as a badge of honour, and exhausted is the new normal, its so vital we learn to make space to practise nourishing rest, other than when collapsing into bed at night, and probably not sleeping so well because of stress / kids/ wired mind etc. Sound familiar? Nidra can help.

In order to sort out the chaos, complications and confusions, we must come back to the simplest thing we know. What feels like nourishment? Begin with that.

- Victoria Erickson, Rhythms and Roads

What is in a Yoga Nidra practise?

Yoga Nidra can include some or all phases of rotating awareness around the body, this might include a visualisation too, being aware of breath, feeling into opposites such as light and heavy or hot and cold, and a Sankalpa. Sankalpa being a 'resolve to do', or deep intention from the heart and mind - a wholehearted promise to oneself.

What are the benefits?

In Yoga Nidra we invite a felt sense of deep relaxation for our whole Self, body, mind, brain and soul, and all layers in between. Our lives are fast, to-do lists are long, learning to slow down and rest in the here and now is a powerful tonic.

But my mind is always busy (I hear you think!), how can I stop?

Thoughts will always skip around in the mind, that's 'normal', thoughts do not have to stop. BUT the more we practice focussed attention, the more ninja-like mind awareness naturally arises. It's a skill like any other.

Just like running a marathon without long term training would be unachievable (for most of us), to sit in silence for one hour without experiencing many shorter sittings first is setting up for failure. I am all for 'small achievable goals' for motivation. (oh and 1 hour is not the goal btw, just an example).

As well as greater focus and awareness, with regular practice, Yoga Nidra is thought to offer many benefits:

  • Soothing the Nervous System

  • Stress relief / reduction

  • Increased self-compassion

  • Greater felt-body (somatic) awareness

  • Improved sleep quality

  • Unlocking creativity

  • Improved memory

  • Emotional regulation

  • Trauma release (please seek specialist guidance before starting a Yoga Nidra practice if experience PTSD).

If meditation is new to you, Yoga Nidra is a great accessible starting point.

Sounds pretty great eh, but how to start?

I have two Yoga Nidra on my website, free for you to rest and recharge with. Before you hit play on the link below...

  • Turn noisy alerts off on your devices

  • Find a space just for you

  • Lay down and take a minute to invite comfort. Perhaps with cushions under any parts that need extra support, back of head and backs of knees can feel good.

  • Allow yourself to feel cosy with a snug blanket over the whole body to keep the warmth in as you settle into stillness.

  • Then click on the link below and receive rest....

In this age of speed, distraction and consumption, nothing is more important than slowing down to intentionally rest, connect to our softness, and let be.

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