What is Yoga Nidra?

Yoga nidra, also known as yogic sleep or dream yoga, is not what you might find in your typical yoga class, but it can be surprisingly more relaxing and therapeutic. Yoga nidra is a meditation technique that involves bringing the mind to the border between the waking and sleeping state, allowing you to explore the subconscious mind and delve into deep layers of relaxation.

When you hear the phrase yogic sleep, you may imagine taking a nice long nap on your yoga mat. But yoga nidra can actually be quite activating for the mind and requires profound concentration to maintain awareness while at the brink of sleep or in a dreaming state. This powerful meditation technique provides innumerable benefits to the body, mind, and soul and is essential in any yoga student’s journey.

Definition of Yoga Nidra

Yoga nidra, or yogic sleep, is a guided meditation technique rooted in tantric yoga philosophy. This technique allows you to explore the border between the waking and sleeping states, delving into lucid dreaming and the deeper corners of the subconscious mind.

Although yoga nidra has ancient roots and is connected to traditional yoga practice, this technique was actually made into its modern form and popularized in the 1970s. Yoga nidra combines yoga philosophy and yogic techniques with Western proprioceptive relaxation and introspection practices.

Yoga nidra allows you to see into the inner workings of the body and mind so that you can access the center of your soul and connect with your true self. This practice unravels the inner workings within you, removing the conditionings of the mind and opening you up to profound insights and awakening. But yoga nidra is not only for spiritual advancement; it also has many potent impacts on mental and physical health.

There are also new techniques of yoga nidra, such as the iRest method developed by Richard Miller as a technique for healing PTSD and trauma in the body and mind.

Richard Miller’s approach has grown in popularity and is now commonly used in veteran’s centers, shelters, and schools as an effective way to improve wellbeing.  

Benefits of Yoga Nidra

Yoga nidra is unique from other meditative techniques due to its systematic process and creative methods to access the internal conditionings of the mind and soul. This method unveils deeper layers of your inner being, giving you access to create profound behavior change and shift the functioning of your mind. The primary benefits of yoga nidra may include:

  • Reduces stress and tension
  • Improves sleep and insomnia
  • Heals trauma, PTSD, and deep psychological wounds
  • Promotes overall joy and wellbeing
  • Increases peace and contentment
  • Relieves chronic pain
  • Enhances emotional and psychological healing
  • Promotes a spiritual connection with all beings

The benefits of yoga nidra extend far beyond the spiritual or often intangible benefits of other yoga practices. Scientific researchers have extensively explored yoga nidra as an effective technique that is now frequently incorporated into psychotherapy and used in many medical centers worldwide.

The Top 5 Yoga Nidra Practices

Unlike other yoga styles, yoga nidra does not require a yoga mat and does not have specific poses associated with it. Yoga nidra is typically practiced while in savasana or Corpse Pose, but it can also be practiced in a seated position. Some of the most popular yoga nidra practices include:

  1. Setting an Intention (Sankalpa)
  2. Awareness of Opposites (Pratipaksha Bhavana)
  3. Rotation of Consciousness and Awareness of Body Parts (Nyasa)
  4. Breath Awareness (Dharana)
  5. Visualization Meditation (Dhyana)

But again, yoga nidra practices can vary depending on the teacher. The yoga nidra technique developed by Richard Miller called iRest is quite different, although the premise behind the approach is still the same.

How to Practice Yoga Nidra

Like most other meditation techniques, yoga nidra can be practiced on a yoga mat, on a meditation cushion, or even on your bed. As you begin to explore yoga nidra, it is best to receive guidance from a qualified teacher to explain the intricacies of this practice and guide you through an immersive meditation. There are now many recordings available on various meditation apps and YouTube.

There are various methods for practicing yoga nidra, but the most popular method involves a systematic process of awareness of the breath, body, and mind. This method begins with attention on the breath, shifting to body sensations, opposite states in the body, setting intentions, and visualizing various scenes and stories with a metaphysical focus.

The theory behind yoga nidra is that when we set an intention before delving into this practice, we may be able to implant this into the deeper layers of the mind and promote transformation from within. A typical yoga nidra session may last between 20-minutes to over 1-hour, with the longer practices having even more powerful effects.

Start Yoga Nidra at Home

Many pre-recorded yoga nidra practices can be found online and are an excellent place to delve into this meditative practice. These recordings are a perfect way to explore the foundations of yoga nidra and begin incorporating it into your daily routine. The primary benefits of yoga nidra come with regular practice, and the easiest way to do this is while at home.

So, if you cannot make it to a yoga nidra studio in person or want to try yoga nidra at home first, check out these follow-along videos.

Yoga Nidra 20 Minute Guided Meditation


30 Minute Yoga Nidra For Deep Rest

Guided Yoga Nidra Meditation with Rod Stryker

iRest Yoga Nidra Dr. Richard Miller Ph.D. Yoga Nidra of the Heart

Also, check out the innumerable yoga nidra tracks at the Yoga Nidra Network to access a wide variety of guided topics and languages.

Yoga Nidra FAQs

What Happens in Yoga Nidra?

Yoga nidra is a guided meditation experience in which you progressively move through the subtle layers of the body, mind, and consciousness. The class typically begins by laying down on a yoga mat or in a comfortable place, followed by a profound experience of meditation and relaxation. The class ends by bringing your awareness back into the present and shifting into a seated position.

Can I Do Yoga Nidra in Bed?

Yes, absolutely! Yoga nidra is an excellent practice to do before going to sleep to reduce insomnia and improve overall sleep. Yoga nidra is a practice of meditation that brings you onto the edge of sleep and explores the world of dreams in a meditative state. When practiced with the intention of sleeping, it will lull you into a peaceful and calm sleep.

How is Yoga Nidra Different than Meditation?

Yoga nidra is a meditation technique itself, so the differences between meditation and yoga nidra are minimal. But one key difference is that meditation is practiced in a waking state. In contrast, yoga nidra is practiced at the borderline between the waking and dreaming state, also known as lucid dreaming. Practicing yoga nidra is an excellent way to deepen your meditation practice and add another tool for awakening and relaxation to your toolbelt.

Important: Check with your doctor before trying yoga nidra for the first time if you have any type of injury, illness, pain, or you are pregnant.

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