On Yoga Nidra
Yoga Explorers retreats teacher Sarah Williams explains the yoga of sleep
If, like me, you have trouble ‘switching off’, then it’s worth exploring Yoga Nidra, also known as the yoga of sleep. Similar to meditation but practiced lying down in the supine relaxation pose (savasana), it helps us to move into the deep conscious state of healing and rest which happens when we are relaxed. Yoga Nidra can be practiced at any time of day, although it is best to not practice when you are very tired as you may fall asleep.
Why we need both Yoga Nidra and Yoga asanas
Yoga Nidra helps us to reduce the amount of time spent in what’s called the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) – also know as the ‘flight or fight’ state – and helps us move the body into a place known as the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) where it can rest and regenerate instead. Movement practices such as yoga asanas can help to burn off nervous energy and bring us back into the present, but if we want to truly rest and access the path to rejuvenation and repair, then Yoga Nidra could be the way in.
What Yoga Nidra can do for me
Yoga Nidra is a systematic, guided meditation based on the Koshas, the five layers of who we are that work through the physical, energetic, emotional, wisdom and ‘bliss’ body. It guides us using effortless awareness to consciously move towards the sleep state, drawing our attention is inwards away from the distraction and stimulations of our everyday lives. Brainwave changes allow the body to function optimally for healing and regeneration, and Yoga Nidra, like meditation, has been proven to help cells regenerate and repair, to decrease anxiety and depression, to regulate emotions and hormones, decrease inflammation at a cellular level, increase immune function, and to balance the right and left side brain and the PNS and SNS.
How to practice Yoga Nidra – at home and on retreat
You don’t need to be flexible or experienced, as the practice happens lying down, with your teacher guiding you through different states of mental awareness. In yoga classes you usually find Nidra practices paired up with gentle, restorative or yin practices, which may take place during the evening on a yoga retreat and can be the perfect end to a day. The practice of Yoga Nidra is simple, accessible and delicious.
More about yoga teacher Sarah Williams
Sarah Williams teaches Vinyasa flow yoga, Yoga Nidra and Restorative yoga in Brighton and London and on yoga retreats around the world organised by Yoga Explorers. Her next retreat is 23rd February – 2nd March 2019 at Jungle Yoga in Thailand with Yoga Explorers. Find out more about Sarah at www.sarahwilliamsyoga.com/yoga-retreats/.