If you have ever been to a yoga class, at the end of the class you have experienced Yoga Nidra – a guided meditation. It is typically practised in a supine position (savasana).
As most people (even practitioners) are not familiar with the term and/or its meaning, etymologically – Yoga Nidra is a conscious, psychic dream of a yogi. Yoga means unity, and Nidra in Sanskrit means dream.
However, hypnosis is also based on some similar principles, because hypnosis is the personification of sleep. Both techniques use a subtle level to affect the whole of our being and there are great similarities between them.
Perhaps, as a hypnotherapist and yoga instructor, this is what led me to delve deeper into the study of yoga Nidra.
Hypnotherapy is a powerful method and I have been practising it for years, witnessing positive changes in clients. So-it works. At the same time, as a yoga instructor but also as a practitioner, I am gradually discovering that the reach of yoga Nidra is far greater than the reach of hypnosis.
Because hypnosis is focused on the relationship between body and mind, while Nidra transcends the body-mind relationship, influencing them, but with the goal of knowing our true nature, our spiritual being, that is, what we are.
It has a more spiritual, broader concept, a higher goal and reach than hypnosis. If you want to get rid of some unwanted habits or develop some preferred trait, hypnosis is definitely a good choice. But if you want to awaken dormant potentials, expand consciousness on a deep level and initiate intuition, creativity, healing and abundance on all levels – my advice will always be Yoga Nidra.
In Yoga Nidra, both hemispheres of the brain are simultaneously active, which further means that we create positive changes in our lives from the position of wholeness. And it is the only technique that engages both hemispheres in parallel, while others silence the left and stimulates the right side of the brain.
Furthermore, what is unique in this practice is the power of intention we use. Our resolution (in Sanskrit-Sankalpa) is a promise we make to ourselves, a personal decision not to be on autopilot, but to consciously change our lives for the better. We distinguish it from affirmations and other forms of decisions by the fact that we formulate it in a quiet state of absolute love and unity, where we are already a divine being and what we want to achieve.
Classical affirmations can be ineffective if our beliefs deviate from what we affirm and this leads to the creation of internal conflict. Affirmation on a conscious level can sound “I’m happy”, while the belief repeats “No, you didn’t” and there will be no progress.
That is why Yoga Nidra, in which we go to the root of what we want to change, is more effective and can be supported by affirmations, both in a relaxed and in a conscious, completely awake state.
If you want to achieve the benefits of meditation but:
…try this ancient tantric method!
Kamini Desai, a fantastic woman from whom I had the privilege to learn, the founder of the Amrit Yoga Institute in Florida and besides Richard Miller certainly one of the best and most competent teachers, says “ Yoga Nidra is meditation made easy”.
The most beautiful features of Yoga Nidra are simplicity and ease of application. You do not need any previous experience in meditation or any other practice. Our body naturally knows how to sleep, it just needs to be provided with a good framework for that, to use the relaxation inherent in sleep, for a higher goal than just rest.
By pulling the senses inward, separating ourselves from temporal and spatial constraints and identifications, concentrating the mind, we initiate powerful processes of revitalisation, self-development, and progress, and we do all this without any effort.
Regardless of age, gender, or physical fitness, anyone can lie in the savasana pose and follow the instructions. If lying down is required in some situations, sitting can also be done.
Although the name contains the word “yoga”, it is not necessary for a yoga practitioner to practice yoga or to be in special physical condition.
Yoga Nidra is intended primarily for those who want to relax, release tension and reduce the negative effects of stress. This is the most common application of Yoga Nidra. It can also be used to relieve mild cases of anxiety, depression, trauma and the release of addiction.
Each new Yoga Nidra is a separate experience, sometimes you will remember most things, sometimes not. Sometimes you may fall asleep, but none of this is wrong.
Some people find it difficult to meditate. For some, time is a challenge. Yoga Nidra is therefore much easier for practitioners because there are no strict rules (as in some practices where you should meditate once or twice a day or do something else).
It is more powerful than the usual meditative techniques. Stages of body scanning or just breathing awareness, on their own, can be used to reduce stress and improve health
Yoga Nidra gives you the opportunity to get to know yourself intimately. The practice involves turning your attention to all parts of your body and feeling the energy awaken in your cells. You will be able to feel sensations which helps to heighten your conscious awareness.
There are Yoga Nidra specially designed for children and can be performed from the age of three years old.
Younger children can enjoy the experience of powerful relaxation through fairy-tale meditative descriptions and stories from ancient mythology. For older children and teenagers, this is a great tool for achieving better results not only in school but also in sports and all other interactions and activities.
• Releases serotonin
• Increases melatonin, oxytocin, endorphins, dopamine, growth hormone,….
• Affects the work of the pineal gland
• Reduces stress and allows complete relaxation of body, mind and spirit
• Reduces cortisol (which accelerates the ageing process, lowers immunity, affects blood pressure, increases bad cholesterol, reduces muscle mass, increases abdominal fat accumulation)
• Reduces anxiety, anger, depression…and leads to improved mood
• Improves sleep (can be used for insomnia)
• Improves your reactions to external stimuli and makes it easier to withstand challenges
It would be good for those who have no experience in Yoga Nidra to start working under the guidance of an experienced instructor. Once you gain experience, you can also work on your own or listen to recommended Yoga Nidras from YouTube or other sources, as well as recorded Yoga Nidras designed specifically for them. If the goal is just relaxation, you can work in a group.
Yoga Nidra has a therapeutic character and with the help of this technique, one can work on the adoption of positive beliefs, change of behaviour patterns, reduction of stress, better physical and mental health.
Also, individually designed sessions lead to the same (and better) results as hypnotherapy, and the process itself is very pleasant and relaxing.
Clients also have the option of receiving recorded individual Nidras, so that you can enjoy them an unlimited number of times and progress faster.
The technique I apply is part of the Integrative Amrit method system designed by Kamini Desai and I am certified to work with adults and children, which makes me the first and only Yoga Nidra instructor in Belgrade, Serbia (at the time of writing).