Yoga Nidra: Relaxing Deeply to Reside in Bliss

"The idea of Yoga Nidra is to lie in repose and relax the entire body."


Yoga Nidra, or Yogic Sleep is a deeply restorative practice often practiced at the end of a yoga class, or after the Yoga asana (postures) to prepare the body for meditation. Practiced alone it can offer a profoundly nourishing result in a short time. Restorative Yogic practices are designed to let the body deeply rest, encourage the mind to calm, invite the intellect and the intuition to find quiet and allow the place of bliss and perfection that lives at each of our centers to be experienced.As with all Yoga practices, consistent Yoga Nidra practice yields greater results. Creating a cozy place in which to deeply relax daily will help encourage consistency. Prioritizing practice is important. I find that when I put my little girl down for her nap, I am drawn among many duties that call to me because when she is awake, she demands my full attention. Her naptime is my only time to focus on anything else, including myself. I spent many months trying to cram as much doing into her naptime as I could, and then when she awoke fresh, she would find me depleted.Now I go immediately to my yoga mat and relax deeply for thirty minutes. When I return to my body I am so rested and my mind is so clear, that I can see easily what needs to be done and do it more effectively. When she wakes up, I am ready to meet her energy. I am essentially choosing my wellbeing before the stack of dishes, laundry, etc. Until I live naked in the garden, there will always be housework to be done. I would so rather be happy and healthy than depleted in a pristine house. I will teach my daughter the importance of self-care by example.


To practice, find a quiet cozy spot, preferably not the bed. While the body very well may fall asleep if it needs to, and that’s fine, the deeper levels of relaxation are more available if we stay awake to enjoy the bliss. I lay on my yoga mat on a carpet with my feet up on the couch, an eye pillow on my eyes and a blanket over my body. It is important that the body be well supported and comfortable. You will want to stay here for a while and will not want to be distracted by the body.The idea of Yoga Nidra is to lie in repose and relax the entire body. There are many audio tracks available to lead one through this process and its nice to have something to hold the mind and keep it from wandering, however it’s not necessary.Letting the body go part by part takes some focus. One nice image is to imagine a warm, honey colored ball of healing light hovering just below the soles of the feet. As that warm light moves up the body, each part deeply relaxes. From the skin all the way to the marrow, the toes to the scalp, notice each layer surrendering. Consciously note which places resist and give those places permission to let go. The hands, jaw and eyes are common culprits. Ground your weight with each exhale.Once the body has been put down, the mind will want to do its thing. Ideas and thoughts are what the mind does best and it can be challenging to stop its action. Focusing on one thing gives the mind a simple job to do and helps bring mental peace. Counting the breath, repeating a mantra, an affirmation, a prayer, imagining the face of a beloved are all great ways to still the waves of thought. This can be very challenging. Be gentle with yourself. Daily practice will really show fast results. Day by day you will find yourself letting go physically more quickly and completely and bringing the mind back to the focus point less and less.



It takes about fifteen minutes of quiet, deep relaxation to initiate the central nervous relaxation response. The feelings of bliss are unmistakable. When I return, I don't feel sleepy, I feel composed, as if I have put myself back together. It feels luxurious to let the quiet time in my day be quiet.

I have seen this practice make me a more patient and positive mother and partner. I feel like I am digging deeper within my own personal wellspring of energy and creating more depth, a place of stillness I can revisit in a few breaths. I offer this to all of us; a simple, ancient practice to refill our well. Enjoy!

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