Yoga Nidra is the practice of yogic sleep. Nidra means “sleep” in Sanskrit. It is the process of using guided visualizations to bring brain waves toward a sleep state while maintaining a thread of consciousness. Studies suggest that the practice of Yoga Nidra assists in re-shape deep seeded mental and emotional patterns that may be the cause of unrest or dis-ease.
Dr. Richard Miller, psychologist and long-time yoga teacher and practitioner, has adapted the practice of Yoga Nidra to suit modern applications of the techniques. The method he created is called Integrative Restoration, or “I-Rest.” Whereas the original format of Yoga Nidra uses visualizations that relate to random imagery, I-Rest uses modern psychological imagery to assist the practitioner in breaking old patterns that inhibit emotional growth and transformation.
The practice of Yoga Nidra, sometimes associated with deep relaxation techniques, consists of a 45-minute to one-hour long session. Instruction is often as such:
- Series of gentle stretches to release tension in muscle tissue and lubricate joints
- Deep breathing exercises in savasana
- Guided body scans to deeply relax each part of the body, repeated several times to create a hypnotic, sleep-inducing state
- Student sets a sankalpa, or deep intention for practice, something deeply personal and transformational on which to dedicate the fruits of practice, and repeats that intention silently three times
- Instructor reminds student to stay awake and to listen carefully for each instruction, for each image
- Student counts breaths down from 20 or 10 toward the unconscious mental state, while attempting to maintain awareness
- Instructor will read a dialogue, either of random sets of images, or of polar emotional experience
- Instructor concludes imagery and conveys to student the close of the yoga nidra practice