For those who are interested in the concept of yoga nidra, however are still asking the question, ‘what actually is yoga nidra?’, we answer these questions and offer an entry into the yoga nidra meditation practice.
Yoga nidra translates as ‘yogic sleep’ or ‘waking sleep’- a very restful and restorative style of meditation which often results in accessing a state of mind that is somewhere between waking and sleeping. This practice often facilitates incredible mental spiritual and physical benefits. Just a few of these include feeling rested and revived, improved sleep and even reducing blood pressure when practiced regularly. Yoga nidra is practiced lying down and even better, it really doesn’t matter if you drift in and out or fall asleep.
How does yoga nidra differ from meditation?
Yoga nidra supports deep rest, which is not always achieved through standard meditation techniques. Whereas meditation is practiced seated, yoga nidra is practiced lying down. Another variation between mediation and yoga nidra is that mediation is a self-guided practice, however yoga nidra is guided by voice or audio. The voice will allow the participant to remain aware of the outer world, yet also their inner consciousness. Additionally, traditional meditation is performed in a waking state, whereas yoga nidra will explore the layers of self, otherwise known as the koshas.
The stages of yoga nidra practiceThese koshas are known as such:
- Physical Layer - to reawaken the loss of presence suffered in our busy modern lives
- Energy Layer - essential for the representation of positive energy within our lives
- Mid-Layer - the seeking of opposite sensations to explore the mind at its fullest and then harmonising experienced sensations
- Creative Layer - through visualisation and imagery the mind is able to explore the creative layer of the koshas
- Bliss Layer - the final layer that can be experienced and as close to the concept of self actualisation the participant can experience
What should people be looking to achieve of feel from yoga nidra?
Within the yoga nidra style of meditation, you need to be open to a number of different things:
- Have a goal or intention for the session - why are you practicing yoga nidra? For reconnection? To overcome stressful situations? As a solution for anxiety? Also build your practice around helping you achieve a life-long goal
- Become aware - of your breath, feelings and thoughts. Do not ignore any of these facets to get full advantage from the yoga nidra meditation practice
- Find your inner and outer resources - ‘scan’ your body to become aware of sensations brought on about by the practice, as well as tap into your inner self to feel secure throughout the practice
- Open yourself to joy - if you enter ‘bliss’ phase, go with it
- Reflect on your practice - the same principles apply to yoga nidra practice, to life, work or any other training regime you follow. Reflection is important. What could I do next time that could improve the practice or benefit me more?
When and for how long should I be practicing yoga nidra meditation?
This is ultimately up to the participant. Given the nature of modern, busy lives, it is important for the participant to find space and time to practice yoga nidra meditation whenever they feel most suitable. Ideally this will be either after yoga practice or before going to sleep. In terms of progression, yoga nidra meditation can be practiced for anywhere between 20 and 40 minutes for full benefits of the practice to be felt. One time that should be avoided is directly after eating, as it can be easier for the participant to fall asleep at this time.
Introduction to ‘Wake up to Spring, while you rest and restore' (20 minutes)
Practiced lying down, this short guided meditation has an easy and accessible yoga nidra style. Your mediation facilitator Janie will take you on a ‘tour’ round parts of the body inducing a state of relaxation somewhere between waking and sleeping. A short visualisation inspired by the Wordsworth poem “Daffodils” follows . This 20 minute practice uses a scene from nature while in this relaxed state offers an opportunity to create a kind of mental sanctuary. While you simply relax you will be waking up to increased awareness, more presence, and a greater capacity to appreciate the world around you.
An introduction to Janie Cashmore
Janie Cashmore lives with her rescue lurcher in a quiet village the heart of the Surrey Hills, England.
Janie came to meditation initially by dipping in and out of it, as a way to seek respite from busy mind & busy life, particularly during stressful phases in her life. For a long while it was a valuable means of escape. Over time it has gradually developed into something more - a life long practice which helps her to ‘navigate the turbulent seas of life’.
Having personally benefited so much, her love of meditation and mindfulness has grown into a fascination and a love of the subject and a desire to share and enable others to access the peace insight, support and wisdom it brings... and that’s to say nothing of the physical benefits.
When Britain locked down in March 2020 Janie and a dear friend collaborated to offer a daily early morning meditation to a group of friends. This was so successful and rewarding that during the last year she has taken the opportunity to further immerse herself in the study, participation and facilitation of mindfulness and meditation practices.
Having gained a wealth of knowledge and training from many sources and incredible teachers she has enjoyed many hours leading and teaching yoga nidra meditation. Her passion and expertise is in introducing and facilitating and supporting the practice of Yoga Nidra style meditation.