What is Yoga Nidra - perfect winter hibernation

Updated: Jan 12

What is Yoga Nidra?

In my last blog, I talked about the importance of Savasana. So, what is Yoga Nidra? Yoga Nidra is a nice extension of Savasana.

Yoga Nidra - a long savasana

In Germany there is an idiom “Doppelt gemoppelt hält besser“, what means something like two are better than one or double lasts longer, so yes Yoga Nidra is like a double Savasana!

I practised Yoga Nidra first in 2003 in India with Matagi in the Parmath Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh. Matagi would guide us for one hour incredibly early in the morning through a Yoga Nidra practice. Often, I would fall asleep, something that eventually with practice no longer happens or at least does not always happen. Concentration or attention will increase over time, and you stay aware but let your body sleep. I subsequently bought a cassette from Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati and practised it on my own wherever I could.

There are different stages: First, the practitioner is invited to internalise, then to think spontaneously of a Sankalpa (that is planting a seed metaphorically, an intention or a resolve in which the practitioner is invited to put all his mind and heart into). This is followed by a rotation of consciousness, breath awareness, manifestations of opposites, visualisations and at the end, remind yourself of the resolve and externalising awareness again. Somebody told me that Yoga Nidra is a bit like lucid dreaming, that is, you sleep but are awake. In Yoga Nidra, it feels like you are falling into a space between being asleep and awake. It's the most profound relaxation stage.

Yoga Nidra has become extremely popular. Many yoga teachers often offer it to their students without really having received instructions on how to teach it or to acknowledge where it came from. Nidra translates as "psychic sleep" and according to the author Swami Satyananda Saraswati of the book by the Bihar School of Yoga “Yoga Nidra” is the art of relaxation derived from the ancient tantras. According to him, true relaxation is beyond sensory relaxation and Yoga Nidra, therefore is a kind of dynamic sleep where your awareness stays alert.

Yoga Nidra can give you complete physical, mental, and emotional relaxation if practised correctly over some time. It is a deep inner relaxation with inner awareness. Somebody along my last 15 years of teaching said that something called “autogenic training” is similar in psychology. Does anybody have any experience with this? Please get in touch!

In the Sutras of Patanjali, we find the eightfold tree to enlightenment, where the 5th limb is called Pratyahara (sensory withdrawal inwards). Therefore, Yoga Nidra can be used as a step to higher states of concentration and Samadhi.

According to esoteric yoga philosophy, we have a subtle body, and this subtle body can take in information without us being aware of it or as we are in a deep sleep. Through the practice of Yoga Nidra, you can gain knowledge without sensory transmissions. When one is asleep, there remains some awareness which is fully alert to outer situations and with Yoga Nidra, we learn how to tap into this state.

A characteristic feature of Yoga Nidra, as mentioned above, is the systematic rotation of consciousness in the body. This, in itself, is incredibly relaxing. You follow the instruction of the teacher and let your awareness go rapidly through your body.

Note: "I’m am truly saddened and aware of the alleged facts that continue to be revealed about sexual abuse that has taken place involving the Bihar School of Yoga, but I am still grateful for the wonderful practice of Yoga Nidra and the research done on it. I never was a follower of any tribe and style of yoga or any outer authority and believed in looking into our own hearts for the truth and being empowered to listen to our inner light.

“Be a light unto yourself; betake yourselves to no external refuge. Hold fast to the Truth. Look not for refuge to anyone besides yourselves.”

Buddha Shakyamuni

but also “if you light a lamp for someone else, it will brighten your path. - Buddha.

"May the Infinite Light of Wisdom and Compassion so shine within us that the errors and vanities of self may be dispelled: so, shall we understand the changing nature of existence and awaken into spiritual peace"

Swami Satyananda Saraswait in Yoga Nidra:

Yoga Nidra – The blissful relaxation

“Most people sleep without resolving their tensions,

This is termed Nidra.

Nidra means sleep, no matter what or why,

But Yoga Nidra means sleep after throwing off the burdens.

It is a blissful, higher quality altogether.

When awareness is separate and distinct from the vrittis (fluctuations of the mind),

When waking, dream and deep sleep pass like clouds,

Yet awareness of atma (the Self) remains.

This is the experience of tale realization.

Relaxation does not mean sleep.

Relaxation means to be blissfully happy.

It has no end.

I call bliss aboulte realxtion

Sleep is a different matter.

Sleep gives only mind and sense relaxation.

Bliss relaxes the atma, the inner self.

That is why in tantra,

Yoga Nidra is the doorway to Samadhi."

I often include a yoga Nidra session at the end of my Sundara Flow. Also, I offer workshops and courses, the next beginners' course starting 13 January (6 weeks online from 6 pm to 7 pm). Every Wednesday, at 6 pm meet me online to practise what I love in my life most, that is, yoga. If you want to share the love for yoga, why not do a yoga teacher training in 2021 with me? This is a self-development course over 11 weekends, and you will certainly learn more about Yoga Nidra in this course.

Also, I offer Relax&Restore Workshops. I learnt over many years Iyengar Yoga and practised with renown senior Iyengar teachers the art of using props. Next one: TBC.

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