What in the downward facing dog is yoga nidra?
Yoga nidra is one of the best styles of yoga for those who are just starting out, or for yogis who are looking to forge a greater connection between body and mind. It’s also known as yogic, dynamic or psychic sleep - which should provide a bit more of a clue as to what yoga nidra is about.
The aim of yoga nidra is to relax and become more aware of our conscious and subconscious, as well as how our body is feeling, before entering into a yoga-induced, sleep-like state. In a nutshell, it’s the original mindfulness - and it’s super simple.
Yoga nidra works by taking a long savasana and using mantras and the guidance of a yoga teacher or pre-set routine in order to achieve maximum awareness while relaxing at the same time. The reason yoga nidra is lauded by yogis and is becoming increasingly popular is because of the mental and emotional healing that yoga nidra can bring, as well as physical positives such as a reduction of stress, chronic pain and tension, as well as better sleep.
Our favourite yoga nidra practice is a straightforward one but we recommend trying a few instructor-led classes or YouTube videos to get the hang of it - not least because it can be very hard to fight the urge to nap...
M Life yoga nidra practice
- Decide on an affirmation or mantra, something that requires healing, awareness or is an intention. Focus and hold this in the mind.
- Find a backing track or music that will create a relaxing, soporific ambience and either light a candle or some incense to make the air heavy.
- Take a corpse pose (savasana) and get completely comfortable. Cover the eyes to help with concentration and use blankets and pillows, as well as a yoga mat, to ensure maximum relaxation.
- Repeat the mantra, out loud or in the head, and then move slowly from head to toe, focusing on each part of the body, and saying the mantra, affirmation or intention over and over again. This should take at least 10 or 15 minutes.
- It’s important to focus on areas of tension that aren’t so obvious, such as the hands, jaw, ankles and calves - apply awareness and affirmation to these areas a few times if necessary. This should help ‘edge’ towards a dynamic, sleep-like state and reach into the subconscious.
- Enjoy feeling calmer, comfortable and unified across body and spirit.