Yoga Nidra (Yogic Sleep) is an 8-Stage guided meditation derived from the Tantra Yoga tradition. This systematic method is known to have profound effects on the body, mind and emotions. It transforms stress into healing by traveling through the 5 layers (koshas) of your being seen in the picture below.
As we journey through these levels of our being, we draw out our authentic self. It helps us to reveal and explore samskaras (deep learned patterns and perspectives that drive our actions). By doing so, this practice assists us in awareness, positive growth, and healing. All you have to do is lie down, relax (yet remain awake) and listen. Also, 30 minutes of this relaxed, aware state is equated to the rejuvenation of 4 hours of sleep.
The 8 Stages:
1) Relaxation: Lie down and get comfortable in Savasana Pose. Make any adjustments with props and clothing so you can be still able to focus during the practice.
2) Choose your Sankalpa: This is a short statement of intention. It should be a short, positive affirmation based in the present moment that expresses a deep desire for yourself. Example: “I am growing in health and wholeness on all levels.” or “I am whole and healthy.” Then repeat this intention to yourself three times.
3) Rotation of Consciousness: Here you are led through a body scan, bringing awareness throughout the physical body.
4) Breath Awareness: Here you observe the unaltered breath, noticing how it feels as we follow it through the nostrils, throat, chest, and belly.
5) Sensation of Opposites: Here you are led to briefly recall and ‘feel’ certain sensations and then recall and ‘feel’ the opposite sensation. This is done quickly and without judgement. Example: heavy and light or hot versus cold.
6) Guided Visualization: Here you are guided through a series of unrelated images to ‘sweep’ the mind or a themed guided journey which may include symbols, archetypes, chakras, and/or guided healing.
7) Reaffirm your Sankalpa: Repeat your sankalpa three times to yourself to strengthen this intention.
8) Externalization: Here you bring awareness from the subtle internal to the gross external. This gently brings us out of Yoga Nidra by focussing on the breath, the body, the room, and external environment.
Then, the practice closes with gentle movement of the body.