Welcome to your yoga nidra practice. In this course, we’ll use an ancient technique from yoga to bring you to a state of deep relaxation. The practice will build, layer upon layer, to take you through what is known in Sanskrit as the pancha maya kosha — the ‘five layers of self’.
Each of the ten guided meditations in this series can be used as a complete, stand-alone practice. But if you find that you’re craving a longer, deeper experience of yoga nidra, the ten recordings can be played one after another to form a full 100 minute practice.
First, it’s important to make yourself as comfortable as possible. Yoga nidra is practiced lying on your back so the whole body can be completely at ease. There is no physical effort in this practice.
While you can benefit from the power of yoga nidra at any time of day, it’s best not to practice just before going to sleep at night. Instead, choose a time when you’re usually awake. Make sure you won’t be disturbed for the duration of your practice. Lie down on your back on the floor — with a rug or yoga mat beneath you for comfort. Your arms are wide with the palms facing up towards the sky. And your legs are wide, with the feet dropping out to the sides.
If you are pregnant, please lie on your left side instead of on your back, and use cushions and blankets to support your body in a way that feels good to you.
Are you comfortable? Is there any discomfort in the lower back, the shoulders, or the legs?
If so, try placing cushions or a bolster underneath your knees — this relaxes the hamstrings and releases the lower back towards the ground. You could also use a folded blanket under the shoulders or the head to ease tension there.
Turn the head very slowly from side to side to let go of any tension in the neck, and then find stillness in the center when you’re ready.
Make any adjustments you need to make until you feel completely comfortable. Your yoga nidra practice always begins like this: finding comfort so the mind won’t be distracted by the body.
And then when you’re comfortable, come to the breath.
There’s nothing to do. No need to control the breath at all. Simply notice the natural rhythm as oxygen travels into the lungs, and out of the lungs.
Allow the forehead to be smooth. Allow the jaw to be soft — so there’s just a little bit of space between the teeth.
And come back to the breath. The mouth is softly closed, so you breathe through the nose. Notice subtle changes in the temperature of the air as you breathe in through the nose, and out through the nose.
It’s impossible to practice yoga nidra incorrectly, because all you have to do is lie still and listen. Your mind will wander now and then — and that’s fine. You might remember some parts of this recording very clearly, and not remember other parts at all. That’s fine too. Each time you listen you’ll hear something new. And if you do drift in and out of sleep, don’t worry. Allow your body to enjoy those nourishing moments of sleep.
This is your time. There are no expectations. No pressure. Nothing to do but lie still, listen, and breathe.
The body is supported by the ground beneath you. Give the weight of your body to this support. Tension is released from every muscle in the body.
Yoga nidra translates, very simply, as the ‘yoga of sleep’. When you’re falling asleep, you reach a place in which your conscious mind is still awake, but your body is in a sleep state — completely, wonderfully relaxed. In yoga nidra, we extend this state of deeply restful consciousness.
And in this state, your body can rest and heal. Your mind can become clear and peaceful. Your parasympathetic nervous system takes the lead so the hormones in your body soothe your mind, ease your worries, and promote healthy blood circulation and digestion.
In this state, your body and mind are in harmony with each other and with your environment. You feel the deep love that connects you with everything.
Bring the awareness back to the breath again. That easy, soft, natural rhythm. Effortless breaths; because your body knows how to do this.
The whole body is supported. The whole body is at ease. The whole body is in rest.
[Pause for a few breaths]
In your own time, take a deep inhale through the nose and then exhale through the mouth.
Your practice is complete. Start to move your fingers and toes, to welcome movement back to the body. And when you’re ready, you can gently open your eyes.
”Yoga nidra is practiced lying on your back so the whole body can be completely at ease. There is no physical effort in this practice.