I first heard about Yoga Nidra through my good friend and fellow Yoga Instructor Nisha Gera. She described how it helped her manifest her deepest desires and feel calm and clear. I was instantly intrigued about the things she was describing but still didn’t truly understand what it was, was it physical yoga? Was it falling asleep or a type of hypnosis? Only through first hand experience was I able to really understand its power and beauty.
One evening Nisha stayed over at my place whilst her husband was away working, I was going through a particularly strange and interesting time in my life and Nisha was always happy to listen and share experiences. She decided to give me a taste of Yoga Nidra as she thought it might help me in some way. I remember feeling quite tense as I lay down on my rug in the living room, all sorts of questions spinning around my mind as well as curiosity and openess to what was about to happen. Yoga Nidra always takes place in a quiet and safe place free from distractions, lying down in Sivasana, the glorious resting corpse pose and closing the eyes. Nisha gave me some minor adjustments that felt heavenly and helped me sink into the rug: a light head massage and soft pressure around my eyebrows and temples, pushing my shoulders into the ground to release tension and covering me with a blanket.
Her voice was smooth and relaxing, different to her usual animated tone, afterwards I called it her Nidra voice. The tone of the instructor’s voice is essential to help your mind relax, since my first experience I have listened to 100’s of different instructor voices and a tone you feel is relaxing and trustworthy is key for you to fully experience Yoga Nidra in the best possible way. The voice guides you to fully relax and let go in the beginning, to focus on the breath, become aware of sounds inside and outside the room to settle your body still on the floor.
Often a key part of the Yoga Nidra practice is setting a positive intention or San Kalpa, something that you would like to manifest in your life and something you can genuinely feel is right for you. This is followed by a rotation of awareness around your body, the sensation is deeply relaxing and often I tend to enter a dreamlike state at this point, the Nidra state when you are alert but deeply relaxed at the same time. It’s a beautiful and peaceful feeling that allows your mind to settle on what is truly important: your experience of the present moment, so clear and simple.
I was then taken through a visualisation stage, I was asked to visualise certain objects and scenes: a bright glimmering red ruby, a sunset, the waves of the ocean… This part of the Nidra practice can bring about strong emotions from one’s subconscious. My first experience of the Nidra visualisation made me feel I was visiting different times on earth, I felt like the process lasted far longer than the few minutes I was lying there.
Nisha asked me to visualise my San Kalpa again and feel it taking place throughout my senses. Slowly i was asked to become aware of my surroundings again and wiggle my fingers and toes…
I lay there for what felt like a long time soaking in the practice in silence.
Sitting upright there wasn’t a trace of lethargy instead I felt fresh, balanced and alert also excited to find out more about this wonderful practice I had just experienced. Since that date I have practiced Yoga Nidra almost daily, studied every book and article I could find and travelled to India to train as a Yoga Teacher and begin to instruct others through their own Yoga Nidra practice. I can say so much more about the benefits, and I will in another post, but for now here is a recording I have made for you to experience it for yourselves. I have also posted a 10 minute Yoga Nidra by Nisha, Director of Joyful Living.