Yoga nidra or yogi sleep has been used for thousands of years by yogis. In the Upanishads, there are three states of consciousness: waking, dreaming and deep sleep. Yoga nidra allows an individual to leave the waking state, move past the dreaming state and into deep sleep while remaining awake or conscious during the whole process. In yoga nidra, there are no dreams to explore. Instead, it is a process of emptying. It purifies the deeper aspect of the human mind by exploring deep impressions or samskaras. This is essential as samskaras drive our karma.
Steps in performing yoga nidra
1. Look for a quiet place where you can perform yoga nidra. It should be free from noise and any form of distraction. A meditation room is ideal but you can also do it in your bedroom.
2. Lie firmly on the bed, mat or floor. Lie flat on your back and make sure your body is stretched out. Place your feet apart from each other and your palms facing up. Close your eyes and do not make any movements.
3. Breathe regularly. Make sure your body is calm and relaxed. Likewise, let go of any thoughts. You have to clear your mind of mental noise.
4. With your eyes closed, follow the sounds around the room. Listen even to the tiniest noise that you can hear. Be aware of your surroundings and with conviction say, “I am going to stay awake all through this session.”
5. Next, draw your focus to different parts of your body. Here, you have to make yourself aware that your body is an instrument of your inner spirit. As you concentrate on each part of your body, allow the essence of life or chi energy or prana to flow through it. First start on the right side of your body. Visualize your prana flowing from your thumb going up to your chest, through your torso and down to your toes. Next, do the same with the left side of your body. Start from your thumb and end with your toes.
Now, concentrate on your back. Let your prana flow from your shoulder blades, through your spine and down to your buttocks. Let it flow throughout your whole back. Shift to the front part of your body, to your face. Imagine your prana flow from your forehead to your eyes, nose, mouth, and down to your neck until it reaches your lower belly. Lastly, let your prana flow through all the major parts of your body: limbs, back and front. Feel it rush within your whole body and affirm, “I am awake.”
6. Continue breathing naturally. Invoke the feeling of lightness in you. Allow your body to feel as light as a feather. Feel your body floating away from the floor. Now, allow a feeling of heaviness take over your body. Slowly, let your body sink back to the floor. Next, induce the feeling of warmth within you. Feel a sense of heat take over your body. Finally, let coldness take over you. Allow it to envelop your body, releasing all the heat you have felt.
7. The final stage of the yoga nidra involves relaxing your mind. For the remainder of your time, meditate on an image that calms you. You can visualize a mountain, river, ocean, flower, children playing on the park or any picture that you find soothing and calming. Allow yourself to feel comfortable and relaxed.
8. Before returning to your full awareness, recite your sankalpa three times. A sankalpa is a personal goal. For example: “I will awaken my full spiritual potential.” “I am successful.” “I am happy.” It is advised to chant it at this stage of the yoga nidra because it will allow your unconscious to accept direction with more intensity.
9. Slowly come to your awareness to conclude your yogi sleep. Keep your breathing relaxed as you gradually become aware of your surroundings and your body Remember, the yoga nidra can only be performed for 25 to 45 minutes.
Practicing yogi sleep can bring about many benefits into our lives. It can restore our body and mind to their natural function and awaken our crown chakra. It also allows us to enjoy the fruits of having a heightened consciousness. Yoga nidra offers a gentle approach but it can create a huge transformation in us.