This article is focused on answering the question, “How to do Yoga Nidra?” There is a paradox to be KNOWN in relation to this question which I hope will unfold as you read.
How to do Yoga Nidra? By taking at least 30 minutes to lie down on your back, listen to someone guide you through a staged process of deepening relaxation of body, mind and inviting connection with Essence. This may, or may not, include stating your Sankalpa – heart’s desire.
Let me begin by sharing a related question to that of “How do I do Yoga Nidra?” and this is the question, “Why should I do Yoga Nidra? These two questions are like the two sides of the coin.
In the USA it is estimated that around 50% of the adult population suffer from some sort of chronic illness. (Gabor Mate – Toxic Culture – How Society Makes Us Ill) In the opinion of this writer much of this is due to living life from the voice in the head that creates most of the personal and collective suffering.
Here at Yoga Journey for Life, we invite you to learn to alleviate this unnecessary suffering through the return to the body, stilling the personal mind and inviting the inspiration of Presence to be your life’s expression. The primary practice we share here is the grounding and embodiment practice of Yoga Nidra.
As with all the articles I write I like to ensure that you are able to navigate these posts to read those sections that jump out at you.
Getting Around this Article
In this article I share the practice of Yoga Nidra in two Sections. These are: –
- The Doing Aspect
- The Non-Doing Aspect
The Doing Aspects of Yoga Nidra
There are things that you can do as a prelude to the practice of Yoga Nidra. The first thing is that you can prepare yourself for the practice. If you are asking, “How do I do Yoga Nidra?” then you are a beginner.
As a beginner there are related questions that it might be useful to be aware off. Such questions include: –
- How long should I practice for?
- When is the best time to do Yoga Nidra?
- How do I start
- Setting an Intention
As a beginner you may well start the practice at home. So the first thing that you can do, and really must do, is set aside the necessary time needed for the practice. This is time you set aside to nurture yourself for what I call, “Companioning YOUR Greatness.”
One of the KEY FACTORS recognized as a major contributor to chronic illness in later life is the absence of time set aside for self-nurture. (When the Body Says NO – The Hidden Cost of Stress – Gabor Mate)
Time set aside for yourself NOW is a REAL investment in health for the future. The paradox is this. The time you set aside for this practice will result in the 8 Benefits that I have shared in the article 8 Benefits of Yoga Nidra and Inner Body Awareness
So I ask you, for your own sake, and for the sake of those you love, to begin to take seriously the practice of self-nurture that is the practice of Yoga Nidra. When I use the word ‘serious’ it is closer to the experience of sincerity.
How Long Should I Practice For
My recommendation is that you practice for a minimum of 45 minutes to 1 hour. This includes the time whereby you allow yourself to create space for the practice and allow space to return to your everyday waking state.
You may in fact only practice Yoga Nidra for half of the allotted hour but in my experience, it is important to allow some time each side of that half hour to move into and out of the different states of awareness that you are inviting through this practice.
If an hour seems too long then either you decide to forgo the idea of practicing Yoga Nidra or you choose to look at what really matters to you in the long term. If you are always on the go then maybe you really do need to explore this journey of Yoga Nidra. Let me quote again from Yoga Nidra – Transformational Sleep introduction: –
Stop doing and floating happens. Stop efforting and sleep happens. When you let go of any doing then everything gets done. This concept is so foreign to the Western mind we can hardly fathom it.
Yoga Nidra time is really time you choose to give yourself as an investment in maintaining and restoring your health and in reshaping your life and changing your destiny. Again as Gabor Mate writing in When the Body Says No one of the major key risk factors of developing chronic long-term illness is the refusal to give yourself time for yourself.
When is the Best Time to DO Yoga Nidra
The best time to do Yoga Nidra is when you need it. I practice first thing in the morning before getting out of bed and last thing at night before going to sleep. I very often will do a short practice during the day only as I feel the need.
I am, technically speaking, retired. However, I am engaged with what my Beloved Rumi invites when he says: –
Let the Beauty that you are be the work that you do – Rumi.
So I am engaged in work that I love.
A lot of this work is writing and sharing the material on this website. It is not work in the way that most people understand that word. It is work that is an expression of my purpose and destiny. It was through the practice of Yoga Nidra that I finally came to find clarity on what my purpose and destiny are.
I work longer hours than most CEO’s of major corporations. However, this work is really an expression of Love. It is a work that is driven from my heart’s desire expressed in the words of my beloved poet Hafiz when he says: –
I wish I could show you when you are lonely and in darkness the astonishing light of your own Being – Hafiz.
I have the time to set aside to practice Yoga Nidra because I am not tied to clock time. (Chronos time) Many of you will be so tied up. You will then have to make a choice as regards how you adopt your daily schedule in order to introduce this revolutionary and revelatory practice of Yoga Nidra.
Many of you will balk at the idea of spending an hour with any practice.
However, let me say this. If you have any issues with lack of sleep or feel not rested enough then this is a practice you really must explore for your own sake. Most Westerners are chronically sleep deprived. One hour of Yoga Nidra Practice is equivalent to four hours of sleep.
Would it not be worth taking the time to explore a technique recognized for thousands of years as a powerful energy booster rather than become dependant on sleeping pills or some other form of self-medication.
Another practical aspect of this Yoga Nidra practice relates to the benefits for pregnant mothers and their developing foetus. The more relaxed the mother the more the proper brain development of the child which has major health implications for the whole of its life.
Do you get the idea how I really want you to make this Yoga Nidra practice foundational to your lifestyle?
It isn’t that you don’t have the time because the practice of Yoga Nidra will create the time and create time for living the life you Love. You have to go to sleep so why not practice then. Turn of your radio or television in the morning and practice then.
How do I start the Journey of Yoga Nidra?
The very first thing to be done is to listen to some of the Yoga Nidra guided meditation tapes available. There are many available on YouTube. There are mp3 recordings available at: –
- Yoga Nidra Network
You can do the preliminary research to find the right Yoga Nidra script or audio/video presentation that suits you. There are a number of things to consider: –
- Ensure the presentation is at least 30 minutes long.
- Ensure you have a good feeling about the presenter’s voice.
- Do you like the music that often accompanies these guided yoga nidra meditations?
- Do you wish to set a Sankalpa or leave the aspect out?
The final thing that you can do is explore what it feels like to get comfortable while lying on the floor or on the bed.
You might explore what it feels like to have props under your knees. You will need to have some sort of blanket to cover you. You might wish to wear an eye covering. You might stretch and let go as a prelude to the practice of learning to sense your inner body.
Setting your Intention
There is another aspect of Yoga Nidra that involves doing. This is the practice of setting an intention for the practice.
There are two kinds of intention: –
- Primary Intention
- Secondary Intention
The setting of a primary intention is referred to as “Setting your Sankalpa.”
A Sankalpa is really an affirmation of your true heart’s desire. This is the way in which Yoga Nidra can and does change your destiny. From working and exploring the setting of a Sankalpa my true heart’s desire unfolded and I found that I am destined to be a writer about Yoga – Journey for Life.
Yoga Nidra and Non-Doing
These are all the things that you can DO in order to prepare yourself for entry into the Yoga Nidra state of allowing.
This is more of a journey of trust and non-doing. It is kind of alien to the Western mind but all our doing has gotten many of us into the dodo. Yoga Nidra is more about Being. Being cannot be defined but can be felt.
When you have done what you can do to create the right environment you are then ready for Yoga Nidra proper. This is a recognized staged inner journey.
It sounds a lot but this is the way that practitioners have found that the practice has evolved over the period of thousands of years since it was first mentioned in the Upanishads – an outline for the nature of the Universe and Self Realization
I am presently exploring this practice of Non-Doing in the online course from Eckhart Yoga entitled Yoga Nidra – Effortlessly Awakening. I love the title. I love the course and will be writing more about it later (as from May 2019)
If you research the description of the various stages of Yoga Nidra you will get a different description for these stages. For example the above course of instruction Yoga Nidra – Effortlessly Awakening includes the lovely aspect of Creating Your Sanctuary. Most other staged descriptions do not include this beautiful invitation.
The Non-Doing Stages of Yoga Nidra
Some of these staged descriptions of the Yoga Nidra practice are technical and dry. So I share below my favourite description of this NON-DOING program of Yoga Nidra from: –
This article shares this seven-stage journey is as follows: –
Stages of Yoga Nidra:
Proven relaxation skills are used to experience total physical relaxation. Your body will typically feel heavy and deeply relaxed and your mind will start quieting down.
Specialized breathing techniques are performed to become calm and energetically balanced. You will experience an inner stillness during this phase.
Techniques like guided imagery, visualization, and mindfulness are used to bring about mental and emotional relief and to help dissolve limiting beliefs. Once you reach this level, the heaviness naturally lifts and a light, buoyant feeling occurs. Why? Because you are no longer being “held down” by physical, energetic, mental, and emotional tension.
Our inbuilt intuition naturally reveals itself after our tensions are relieved during the previous three stages. You will feel even more lightness and genuine peace during the fourth stage. This non-mental state of being opens us up to our source of higher knowledge and wisdom.
The fifth stage is indescribable, because it goes beyond words and the thinking mind into the sensation of pure contentment and unconditional joy. You feel inner and outer stillness.
The sixth stage allows us to experience, naturally, our True Self, a place inside each of us that is always undisturbed, joyful, and wisdom filled. This is a timeless, spacious feeling of being totally at ease yet being aware and awake—a primary goal of Yoga itself.
Lastly, it’s important to return to normal wakefulness and awareness at the conclusion of your Yoga Nidra practice
How to Do Yoga Nidra Summary
This article for the most part has been focused on answering the “HOW TO DO Yoga Nidra?” question. I hope it will entice you to further explore the Yoga Nidra NON-DOING experience that you can embody and become. In this way, in the words of Yoga Nidra – The Art of Transformational Sleep you maintain or restore your health, reshape your life and change your destiny.
So that you can read or re-read aspects of this article again I have added the navigation menu below so that you have the option of quickly accessing parts of it that might really speak to you (which I hope they do).
- How long should I practice for?
- When is the best time to do Yoga Nidra?
- How do I start
- Setting an Intention
If there is any question that I have not addressed here related to the very practical aspect of “How to do Yoga Nidra” then please ask or leave a comment. I might well take the time to do a full post on such a question or update this post to reflect it.