Yoga Nidra: Awake, Aware, Amazing

By: Jen Champion

Do you ever feel like you wish you could take a nap? A short one, a rest, and a reset? I understand. I see the benefits in my husband including brighter eyes and smile, pep in his step, and definitely funnier. He knows how to do it right! A nap can provide rest, a clear mind, and energy. Experts say a 10-20 minute nap can improve health and productivity. Sleep imbalances appear in many ways. They can start unnoticed and lead to illness.

Are you willing to try something new? What if you can do it lying down with your eyes closed? How about if the Surgeon General of the United States Army endorsed it as a Complementary Alternative Medicine? Researchers say 30 minutes of the practice of Yoga Nidra is the equivalent of 3 hours of sleep.

Yoga Nidra, also called Yogic Sleep, is a practice where we learn to put our minds to deep rest. Here, physical, mental, and emotional tensions are released, and balance and healing transpire. Yes, you can feel those qualities and are entitled to them! As with all practices, repetition is necessary for abounding experiences.  

 The Yoga Nidra practice is in the Upanishads, a yogic text featuring philosophical teachings about the various paths of yoga. Today, there are multiple styles of Yoga Nidra; however, the authentic ones implement but are not limited to, the same principles from history: while aware and awake, one finds physical comfort, breath awareness, intention setting, gentle movements, contraction and release of muscles, guidance through points in the body, and guided imagery.

Why do we want to rest but remain awake? How can that be relaxing?

A bounty of benefits ripens with the practice of Yoga Nidra: sleep improves, deepens the process of learning and maintaining information, opens and strengthens the connection between the conscious and subconscious, reprograms the subconscious, reduces symptoms of stress-related illnesses, and increases and supports vitality.

We get to take a break from our sensory overload and sift through the unlimited storage in our subconscious. Our subconscious is like a tape recording of programs. It is a limitless stock of memories that affect our feelings and behaviors. The sounds we hear, the scents we inhale, and the vibrations we feel are registered in our subconscious.

That is a lot to take in! We can discard that which is not relevant and rearrange what is! We can eliminate and replace our prerecorded storage with the stories, goals, and dreams that foster transformations to live our most fulfilled lives now. The Hebbian Theory is that “neurons that fire together wire together.” What we say to ourselves is what our brains believe and what our lives become. We must be careful what we say and think. We are always listening.  

There are many techniques to help us open the channels between the subconscious and the conscious and live in a more divine alignment. One way is repetition. Think it, say it, do it, own it! Wear headphones while you sleep with the messages you want to hear and the goals you want for your reality. Allow yourself space and time to be with your thoughts and notice when your patterns play tunes that deplete you and fill them with groovy tunes and truths for you now. 

When we shift our awareness from the outer to the inner world, we separate from what we have little control over. Through cultivating and practicing deep relaxation through Yoga Nidra, we train our bodies to release tensions and create space for experiences of pleasure, ease, and resilience to stress. When challenges arise, we can maintain our stability and comfort, remain balanced and fulfilled, and inspire others to do the same

Enjoy the Yoga Nidra practice. You can schedule a private, small group in-person or online session. Prepare a space on the floor with yoga mats, blankets, pillows, and an eye pillow of cloth over your eyes. You can practice on your bed or couch, but you will likely recall your other activities there, like tv and sleep. Get comfortable, and let’s begin.