9 Differences Between iRest & Yoga Nidra

You might like to read this blog post for A Brief Introduction to iRest and Yoga Nidra.

  1. Differences in Culture Between iRest and Traditional Yoga Nidra

Traditional Yoga Nidra (TYN) is a meditative practice which stems from ancient Indian culture whose original works were written in the Sanskrit language. In part, TYN directs the student to use images such as a crocodile in the pelvis (which is associated with the sacral chakra), a ram in the solar plexus (manipura chakra) or an antelope in the heart (anahatta chakra), etc.

iRest has been secularized by removing references to cultural images and language in order to make it more accessible to Westerners.

2. Differences in Purpose Between iRest and Traditional Yoga Nidra

Traditional Yoga Nidra was developed as a method to attain enlightenment or Self-Realization, not as a treatment for trauma or psycho-emotional distress. Classical Yoga Nidra “imposes” imagery (as above) and makes other suggestions which have the potential to cause psycho-emotional flooding or overwhelm to those with traumatic PTSD or other combat stress conditions.

iRest is designed to support a person’s healthy defences and conditioning and to allow practitioners to uncover and integrate challenging material and experiences at their own pace and in their own time.

3. Differences in Use of an Inner Resource Between iRest and Traditional Yoga Nidra

Traditional Yoga Nidra does not include the use of a  an inner resource or safe, happy place.

iRest practices always begin and end with time to develop, rest in and absorb the felt safety and security of an inner safe haven. The student is assisted by the teacher in developing and enriching their own unique inner refuge especially to give them the resilience to meet challenging emotional arisings both during the practice and also during life.

4. Differences in Responding to Emotional Releases Between iRest and Traditional Yoga Nidra

While emotional catharsis is rare in practice it does occur. This is a good thing and does not necessarily mean the tears or crying are being experienced negatively by the person. In many instances it is a welcome cathartic release after which the person feels better and lighter. Like all things, these are passing experiences that are welcomed fully within the safety of the teacher and the group. They may occur during a Yoga Nidra practice just as they might in a regular yoga class.

Traditional Yoga Nidra

iRest teachers receive instruction during their training on how to meet, greet, and welcome the person and their emotions in a supportive but non-invasive way that supports healing without repressing or re-triggering the trauma.

5. Differences in Method Between iRest and Traditional Yoga Nidra

Traditional Yoga Nidra instructors guide all participants in a class through a standard process that is the same for everyone. Choices  are not provided.

iRest offers each and every participant the choice in how and when they want to participate. Each person is given the option to follow as much or as little of the teacher’s guidance as they wish, and are encouraged to follow their own personal inner process over the teachers guidance. Also, each participant has their own unique Inner Resource, and may choose the sensation, emotions, thoughts, memories, beliefs and images, s/he wants to work with during the practice.

6. Differences in Guidance Between iRest and Traditional Yoga Nidra

Traditional Yoga Nidra is more directive, “feel this,” “feel that,” “relax” and imagine X.

iRest helps people learn to radically accept themselves and their life just as it is in this moment without judgment or refusal. It doesn’t encourage avoidance or denial of challenges but rather offers the opposite, a radical meeting, greeting, welcoming and engaging so that their meaning, value and purpose can be discerned and integrated leading to living a wise and compassionate, vital life.

7. Differences in Use by Military Between iRest and Traditional Yoga Nidra

Traditional Yoga Nidra has not been used to treat trauma, PTSD or other combat related injuries.

iRest has been in use in military settings since 2006 following a successful pilot program at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, which showed its effectiveness in treating combat related PTSD in veterans. The Army Surgeon General has approved iRest as a Tier II treatment for PTSD in the DOD. Following the pilot study in 2007 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, 6 more studies have been done with the military. There are now approximately 20 VA and active duty U.S. military programs utilizing iRest. These programs have not been adopted by the Canadian Military to my knowledge.

8. Differences in Research Between iRest and Traditional Yoga Nidra

Rest is formulated as a 10-step flexible process that is suitable for research. Between 2007 and 2015, 22 iRest research studies were published and all of the research on Yoga Nidra in military settings has been done using the iRest protocol.

9. Differences in the Yogic Sheath Model (Koshas) Between iRest and Traditional Yoga Nidra

Traditional Yoga Nidra is based on, and works with, the 5 traditional koshas; the Annamaya kosha (body), the Pranamaya kosha (breath), the Manomaya kosha (sensation and emotion), the Vijñ?namaya kosha (cognitions) and the Anandamaya kosha (bliss). These are elements with which we wrongly identify ourselves. We see ourselves as, or identify with, being a body, having a breath, experiencing sensations and emotions, and having personal thoughts, beliefs, memories and images. We can even identify with bliss when we think, “I am happy.”

iRest also uses the traditional 5 sheath model but adds a 6th kosha, the Asmitamaya kosha. Admit is a sense of “I-ness” or being a separate self. It can be that even when experiencing happiness or bliss the ego-I comes in and appropriates the experience by saying, “I am happy/blissful.” As part of this non-dual inquiry, iRest asks, What is this I-ness that is happy? What is the felt-sense of this I-ness?”

Eventually this sense of being a separate “I” is seen as just another thought that is impermanent. It can now be sees that the sense of separation is just another movement in consciousness, and in doing so realize ourselves as the container for that I-thought. We can then redirect our attention back into that Unchanging Presence that is Aware before, during and after all change, including happiness.

Knowing your True nature is of profound benefit to yourself, friends, co-workers and society at large. Taking right action and making ethical decisions is crucial to healing violence and the degradation of Earth’s environment. When we see others as ourselves then it makes no sense to go to war or to steal. Then health, harmony and peace are possible.

NB: Many thanks to Karen Soltes and Robin Carnes at IRI for their work on defining these differences. This posts has a special emphasis on trauma, such as PTSD.

Next Week: The 1 Big Hurdle to a Successful Meditation Practice & 19 Solutions

PNB HeadShot Preferred rnd cornersPhilip Beck is a Certified iRest Yoga Nidra Teacher, a graduate of the Spiritual Psychotherapy program at Transformational Arts College, and a 500-hour Kripalu Yoga Teacher. He lives in Toronto and works with people who want to reconnect with themselves and their passion. Free discovery sessions are available in person, by Skype or FaceTime. You can email Philip here or  book Philip here for your complementary first session.

For a free 11 minute mp3 & PDF for relaxation, sleep and focus check out the home page. You’ll also receive blog posts and information about courses and workshops. Want to be inspired? You can follow Discover Yoga Nidra on FaceBook, by clicking here.

Please comment and keep the discussion going…

The post 9 Differences Between iRest & Yoga Nidra appeared first on Discover Yoga Nidra.

Yoga Nidra Text * Sunita Ehlers

Yoga Nidra tut gut. Eigentlich immer, oder? Bist Du auf der Suche nach einem schönen Text für Deine Yoga Nidra Stunde? Dann schau mal her.

Yoga Nidra Text

Lege Dich auf den Rücken und bereite Dich für Yoga Nidra vor. Schaue, das Dich nichts zwickt oder drückt, deine Anziehsachen nicht einengen und du dich zudeckst. Bewege den Kopf sanft von rechts nach links und lasse ihn dann in der Mitte einpendeln. Dein Körper sollte sich nun gut anfühlen, sodass Du keine Notwendigkeit mehr hast, dich während Yoga Nidra bewegen zu müssen. Bleibe solange liegen, bis du wieder dazu aufgefordert wirst, dich zu bewegen.

Schliesse Deine Augen und lasse sie geschlossen bis zum Ende der Yoga Nidra Stunde. Atme tief ein und dann atme langsam aus. Lasse mit der Ausatmung alles vom heutigen Tag, alle Sorgen und alle Gedanken los. Lasse sie mit der nächsten Ausatmung aus dem Raum ziehen.

In der Praxis die nun folgt musst du nichts tun ausser Entspannung wahrzunehmen. Du musst dich nicht bewusst entspannen oder Muskulatur loslassen, achte einfach nur darauf, Deinen Körper wahrzunehmen und die Entspannung zu fühlen. Es fühlt sich so an, wie der Zustand den du erlebst, kurz bevor du einschläfst. Du bleibst wach, aber entspannt. Achte darauf, das du wach bleibst. Entscheide dich ganz bewusst für dich selber: Ich bleibe wach während der Yoga Nidra Praxis.

Während der Praxis nun brauchst du nicht zu analysieren, nicht zu hinterfragen. Du folgst ganz einfach meiner Stimme. Wenn du einmal für einen kurzen Moment nicht folgen kannst, dann steige – sobald du die Stimme wieder hörst- einfach wieder mit ein. Und lausche. Erlaube dir ruhig zu sein.

Bringe nun ein Gefühl von innerer Gelassenheit in deinen Körper, in den gesamten Körper. Konzentriere dich auf deinen Körper und sei dir der Notwendigkeit der Stille bewusst.

Wiederhole für 3 Atemzüge mit der Einatmung Oommm und mit der Ausatmung Oommm.

Komplette Stille und Ruhe in Deinem gesamten Körper, im gesamten Körper, im gesamten Körper. LÄNGERE PAUSE. Erlaube dir nun Yoga Nidra zu praktizieren. Sage dir in Gedanken: Ich praktiziere nun Yoga Nidra. Wiederhole diesen Satz in deinen Gedanken.

Nun setze einen Entschluss für dich, einen kurzen prägnanten, positiven Entschluss. Fasse einen Entschluss für dich, der aus deinem tiefsten inneren kommt. Kurz, knapp, positiv und wiederhole ihn 3 mal in deinen eigenen Gedanken voller Gefühl und Entschlossenheit. PAUSE Nimm dir vor, das dieser Entschluss wahr wird.

Nun beginne mit der bewussten Wahrnehmung deines Körpers. Wiederhole den Bereich deines Körpers, den ich dir nenne in deinen Gedanken und werde dir dieses Bereiches deines Körpers bewusst. Konzentriere dich, aber verliere dich nicht in der Konzentration. Folge meinen Worten.

Sei dir deiner rechten Hand bewusst…

Sei dir deiner linken Hand bewusst..

Komplette Gruppen, rechtes Bein, linkes Bein. Beide Beine. PAUSE rechter Arm, linker Arm. Beide Arme PAUSE. Gesamte Rückseite des Körpers, Nacken, Schultern, Arme, Rücken, Beine, Füsse. Die gesamte Vorderseite des Körpers. Rückseite und Vorderseite zusammen. Der ganze Körper, der ganze Körper, der ganze Körper. Bitte bleibe wach. PAUSE. Dein ganzer Körper auf der Matte, sei dir des gesamten Körpers auf der Matte bewusst. Dein Körper liegt auf der Matte, sieh ihn dir an. Perfekt ruhig auf der Matte in diesem Raum. PAUSE. Visualisiere deinen Körper auf der Matte in deinen Gedanken. Pause.

Sei dir nun deiner Atmung bewusst. PAUSE. Fühle die Bewegung der Atmung in deinen Lungen, ein und aus. PAUSE. Versuche den Rhythmus nicht zu beeinflussen, nimm ihn einfach wahr. Ganz natürlich ein und aus. Ganz automatisch. Bleibe bei dem Bewusstsein für deine Atmung, wiederhole. Vollständig bei der Atmung mit deinen Gedanken. LÄNGERE PAUSE. Nun sei dir der Bewegung in deinem Bauchraum bewusst, den du mit der Atmung auslöst. Konzentriere dich auf deinen Bauch, der sich mit jeder Einatmung hebt und mit jeder Ausatmung senkt. PAUSE. Jede Ein – und Ausatmung bewegt deinen Bauchdecke hoch und runter. Konzentriere dich auf diese Bewegung die du spürst und synchronisiere diese Bewegung mit der Atmung. PAUSE. Sei dir bewusst darüber das du deine Atmung beobachtest. Ganz gleichmässig. PAUSE. Nun beginne Deine Atmung zu zählen. Von 27 bis 1. Bauchdecke hebt sich 27, Bauchdecke senkt sich 27, …Sei dir bewusst darüber das du deine Atmung zählst und bleibe mit deiner Aufmerksamkeit bei der Zählung. Solltest du dich verzählen, dann beginne wieder bei der 27 und beginne von vorne. LÄNGERE PAUSE. Sei dir vollständig bewusst darüber was du tust, du zählst deine Atemzüge von 27 bis 1. PAUSE 27 bis 1 ohne dich zu verzählen, sonst beginnst du von vorne. PAUSE

Nun löse die Aufmerksamkeit von dem Zählen der Atmung und sei dir der Bewegung deines Brustkorbes bewusst. Fühle die Atmung in deinem Brustkorb. Einatmung der Brustkorb hebt sich, Ausatmung der Brustkorb senkt sich. Werde dir der Gleichmässigkeit der Bewegung in deinem Brustkorb bewusst. Fühle die Synchronisation der Bewegung in deinem Brustkorb und deiner Atmung. PAUSE. Beginne mit dem Zählen der Atmung von 27 bis 1. 27 Brustkorb hebt sich, 27 Brustkorb senkt sich… PAUSE. Kein Verzählen, sonst beginne wieder bei 27. Sei dir der Bewegung, der Atmung und des Zählens bewusst. Zähle. PAUSE

Löse dich von dem Zählen und werde dir deines Halses bewusst.. siehe oben. PAUSE

Löse dich von dem zählen und der Atmung. Visualisiere nun die dir angesagten Dinge. Ich werde dir ein paar Sachen aufzählen und Du versuchst dir ein Bild dessen in deinen Gedanken zu visualisieren. Nimm die Gefühle wahr, vollkommen bewusst. So gut es eben geht. PAUSE. Es ist vollkommen ok, wenn Du dir einige Dinge nicht visualisieren kannst, setze dich nicht unter druck. Wenn du es gut visualsieren kannst, dann nimm es wahr, fühle und schaue. PAUSE

Brennende Kerze 3 mal

Ein Kreuz oben auf einem Kirchturm

Nun wiederhole deinen am beginn der Stunde gefassten Entschluss. Wiederhole ihn 3 mal in deinen Gedanken.

Komme nun mit der Aufmerksamkeit zu deiner Atmung zurück. Sei dir deiner Atmung bewusst. Ganz natürlich strömt sie ein-und aus. PAUSE. Dein Körper liegt vollkommen entspannt auf der Matte. Du atmest ruhig und gleichmässig. PAUSE. Geh mit deiner Aufmerksamkeit zu deinem gesamten Körper, vom Kopf bis zu den Zehen. Wiederhole 3 mal oommmm. Werde dir bewusst der matte, dem Boden unter dir. Visualisiere in Gedanken deinen Körper auf der matte, visualisiere den Raum in dem du liegst, die Geräusche um dich herum. PAUSE. Bleibe hier einen Moment in ruhe liegen und atme. PAUSE. Dann beginne dich zu bewegen, die Finger, die Zehen, recke und strecke dich.


Ich bin ausgebildete Yogalehrerin (AYA), aktive Referentin der Yogalehrerausbildung, Yoga & Lifestyle Bloggerin und Podcasterin (Living a good – healthy – Life) und Yoga & Ayurveda Lifestyle Coach
Zu meinen Themen & Kursgebieten gehören Hormonyoga/Personal Training/ Vinyasa Yoga/Hatha Yoga/Yin Yoga/ Ayurveda Yoga / Meditation und vor allem ein ganzheitliches Yoga & Ayurveda Lifestyle Coaching.
Ich liebe das Schreiben und sehe es als Ausdruck dessen, was mir am Herzen liegt.Wenn Business Spaß macht ist es ein unglaubliches Gefühl. Authentizität und liebevoller Umgang sind mir genauso wichtig, wie soziale Verantwortung.

Yoga Nidra

I first heard about Yoga Nidra through my good friend and fellow Yoga Instructor Nisha Gera. She described how it helped her manifest her deepest desires and feel calm and clear. I was instantly intrigued about the things she was describing but still didn’t truly understand what it was, was it physical yoga? Was it falling asleep or a type of hypnosis? Only through first hand experience was I able to really understand its power and beauty.

One evening Nisha stayed over at my place whilst her husband was away working, I was going through a particularly strange and interesting time in my life and Nisha was always happy to listen and share experiences. She decided to give me a taste of Yoga Nidra as she thought it might help me in some way. I remember feeling quite tense as I lay down on my rug in the living room, all sorts of questions spinning around my mind as well as curiosity and openess to what was about to happen. Yoga Nidra always takes place in a quiet and safe place free from distractions, lying down in Sivasana, the glorious resting corpse pose and closing the eyes. Nisha gave me some minor adjustments that felt heavenly and helped me sink into the rug: a light head massage and soft pressure around my eyebrows and temples, pushing my shoulders into the ground to release tension and covering me with a blanket.

Her voice was smooth and relaxing, different to her usual animated tone, afterwards I called it her Nidra voice. The tone of the instructor’s voice is essential to help your mind relax, since my first experience I have listened to 100’s of different instructor voices and a tone you feel is relaxing and trustworthy is key for you to fully experience Yoga Nidra in the best possible way. The voice guides you to fully relax and let go in the beginning, to focus on the breath, become aware of sounds inside and outside the room to settle your body still on the floor.

Often a key part of the Yoga Nidra practice is setting a positive intention or San Kalpa, something that you would like to manifest in your life and something you can genuinely feel is right for you. This is followed by a rotation of awareness around your body, the sensation is deeply relaxing and often I tend to enter a dreamlike state at this point, the Nidra state when you are alert but deeply relaxed at the same time. It’s a beautiful and peaceful feeling that allows your mind to settle on what is truly important: your experience of the present moment, so clear and simple.

I was then taken through a visualisation stage, I was asked to visualise certain objects and scenes: a bright glimmering red ruby, a sunset, the waves of the ocean… This part of the Nidra practice can bring about strong emotions from one’s subconscious. My first experience of the Nidra visualisation made me feel I was visiting different times on earth, I felt like the process lasted far longer than the few minutes I was lying there.

Nisha asked me to visualise my San Kalpa again and feel it taking place throughout my senses. Slowly i was asked to become aware of my surroundings again and wiggle my fingers and toes…

I lay there for what felt like a long time soaking in the practice in silence.

Sitting upright there wasn’t a trace of lethargy instead I felt fresh, balanced and alert also excited to find out more about this wonderful practice I had just experienced. Since that date I have practiced Yoga Nidra almost daily, studied every book and article I could find and travelled to India to train as a Yoga Teacher and begin to instruct others through their own Yoga Nidra practice. I can say so much more about the benefits, and I will in another post, but for now here is a recording I have made for you to experience it for yourselves. I have also posted a 10 minute Yoga Nidra by Nisha, Director of Joyful Living.

Watch on Youtube: Yoga Nidra- Healing Meditation

Watch on Youtube: 10 Min Relaxation Meditation- Joyful Living

How to Create A Mind-Blowing Yoga Nidra Experience

I would consider my first experience of Yoga Nidra as both mind-blowing and one of the weirdest experiences i’ve encountered on my yoga journey.

I was young at the time, regularly practicing yoga, and I had started to deepen my practice by trying all sorts of (what I considered to be) weird but wonderful classes from Gong Baths to Kirtan, Kriya yoga to crystal healing, eventually leading me to the Psychic Sleep, a seriously deep relaxation known as, Yoga Nidra.

Many years later and these ‘unusual’ practices are all part of my daily life and a major contributor to my overall well-being.

I remember the first Yoga Nidra session distinctly because immediately afterwards, I was blown away with the power of my mind!

I decided to join this session as my dear teacher who I had really grown to trust and respect, offered it as a special class in her beautiful yoga garden. She was incredibly enthusiastic about it which made me curious so I thought, ‘why not try this ‘yogi sleep’!?’ Plus, she told me that after just one 30-minute Yoga Nidra session, I would have the equivalent energy levels of having an 8 hour sleep – errrr,  yes, please!

She led the session following the traditional format of Yoga Nidra, which I have detailed below in 5 easy steps, but simply put it starts with a detailed body scan, breath awareness, a sankalpa (positive affirmation) and a series of visualisations. For me, the most profound aspect of this session was the bodily-sensation visualization in which my teacher guided us to feel our body heavy, then light, hot and then cold.

It sounds simple, but I could not believe that my mind could control the bodily sensations that I was feeling. I was blown away by the power of my own mind!

After the Yoga Nidra session, I felt such a surge of energy and a complete realization of how powerful my mind actually is. If it can control all my bodily sensations, making me feel hot, cold, light and heavy all within a few minutes, without moving or changing the environment – purely just from my mind, what else was my mind capable of?!

I didn’t quite realise just how impactful this session was until I reflected upon it a few months later. This short 30-minute, meditation session, had rewired my brain, my beliefs about myself and my approach to life. I moved from truly believing that my mind and my thoughts controlled my emotions and actions, to discovering, that I can have control of my mind, my thoughts, my feelings and my actions –  mind blowing, especially at a young age!

All this from a 30-minute meditation – who would have thought it?! Certainly not me, at the time.

It’s no surprise that I found a deep, deep connection with this form of meditation and just 5 months later, I found myself in India spending 23 days learning how to competently guide traditional Yoga Nidra meditations.

Since, then, it has been one of my favourite techniques to share with teens and adults. I realise that not everyone may feel the effects as vividly and profoundly as I did, but imagine if they did?!

Imagine if we can give our students the gift of realisation – a realisation that they have control of their thoughts, feeling and actions, realisation that they can control their own mind.

This was one of the greatest gifts that I have ever received (all for $15USD in that little Yoga Garden). If you haven’t experienced Yoga Nidra yet, I highly, highly recommend it.

Whether you’re leading this for your yoga students, looking to explore this independently, or you’re interested to learn more about it, here’s an easy 5-step guide to Yoga Nidra:

1. Get Comfortable

Yoga Nidra can last anywhere between 20-90minutes so getting comfortable to avoid distractions, is vital! Lie in Shavasana, cover yourself with a blanket, place a bolster under your knees and a cushion under your head. Relax and settle down.

2. Detailed Body Scan

This is the first stage to get the mind into a focused state and the body into a sleep-like, restorative state.

Various teachers and schools guide this differently, but, it is a detailed scan of the entire body, focusing on each limb and joint at a steady pace to keep the mind focused and bring awareness into each part of the body.

Personally, I start with the right side of the body, from the right thumb to the shoulder, all the way down to the toes. Then the left side, the front of the body and the back of the body. Being very detailed, specific and consistent with my guidance.

  1. Breath Awareness

By this stage, you may well have a few of your students, particularly beginners, floating in and out of a sleep-like state (and there’s always one student in a full deep sleep) – don’t worry, this is completely natural.

Focus on each breath, counting each exhalation. Traditionally, you would start from 100 and count each breath, down to one but I often start at 10 – its just more achievable and often, actually creates more focus than starting at 100.

  1. Sankalpa

This is your positive affirmation. Typically a positive “I am…” statement.  Usually I encourage my students to create their own meaningful affirmation before starting the Yoga Nidra session but often, I will create the sankalpa, especially if I am leading a theme based class or a teen yoga nidra session.

Once the sankalpa has been created, repeat it mentally 3 times.

  1. Visualisations

There are a whole range of visualization techniques to accompany Yoga Nidra (I could, and often do, speak about this all day long), a couple of my personal favourites include:

** Body Sensations – being guided through body sensations, from feeling hot then cold, heavy then light, just like my first mind-blowing experience of Yoga Nidra

** Quick-fire visuals – this keeps the mind super-focused. Usually I focus on natural environments or elements – a snowy mountain, a burning fire, a gentle-flowing river.

Now that you have entered the ultimate relaxation, take some time there. Some teachers play soothing music or singing bowls in the background, but traditionally, this would be a silent space.

Afterwards, take the time to feel the profound effects, to sit in the relaxation, to just be and feel the energy and mental state that has been created.

You learn more about guiding yoga nidra and meditations for children, teens and adults here.

Forget Sleep Deprivation by the Regular Practice of Yoga Nidra

Are you in need of a good nap? Yoga Nidra might be your key to feeling refreshed and well-rested. There are a number of ways in which yogic sleep can turn out to be more effective in comparison to traditional sleep. So, what actually is Yoga Nidra?

The Yoga Nidra State

Yoga Nidra is an amalgamation of two specific terms and these include the actual state of nidra and the set of methods that comprise the practice.

  • The state of Yoga Nidra is that of complete bliss. It is the experience gained from this state that itself speaks volumes. Therefore, you need to try it yourself.
  • In order to get there, you will have to follow a set of Yoga Nidra instructions. These include mental focal points and breathing queues like all other ways of guided meditation. These are generally provided by trained and experienced yoga Nidra instructors and guides.
  • The state needs to be practiced while lying on one’s back in the Savasana. It is the surrounding for this state that proves to be highly advantageous over meditation. Lying down tends to be more comfortable than simply sitting.

Yoga Nidra benefits

The main thing about the Yoga Nidra is that it results in a moment where the practitioner feels complete bliss. The practitioner experiences a peaceful and relaxing sleep. There are different steps which carry the inner soul into deeper states of peacefulness and relaxation. The body feels light and reaches a point where one falls asleep with their awareness remaining intact. One of the best things about the yoga Nidra practice is that it brings the nervous system, the heart, and the brain into a state of complete coherence.

The Advantages of Yoga Nidra

  • Yoga Nidra is basically a guided practice that serves to be the ideal distraction for unlatching one’s attention from different things that an individual might have going into his or her brain at a given point of time.
  • Breathing techniques and the deep relaxation are procedures that help the human body in shutting off the production of cortisol which further helps in reducing stress.
  • Another one of the best “Yoga Nidra benefits” is that it helps in creating harmony and balance in the nervous system simply by silencing the human mind.
  • The nervous system and the brain thus sync up perfectly which further serves as the best medicine for the endocrine system.
  • It helps the system in sending off an individual to sleep while the other systems of the body are tuned up.

Yoga Nidra training will help you in becoming an instructor that the practitioners look up to when they are in need of sound and top quality sleep. The courses at Diya Yoga are designed keeping the broader understanding of yoga and its teaching in mind.

The post Forget Sleep Deprivation by the Regular Practice of Yoga Nidra appeared first on Yoga Teacher Training & Yoga Nidra – India.

Get the Rest You Crave with Yoga Nidra – Wander Wellness Travel Magazine

You already know that a lack of sleep negatively impacts health, and that our screen obsession is not helping matters. But did you know that a practice called yoga nidra can help?

Yoga nidra is an immensely powerful meditation technique, and one of the easiest yoga practices to develop and maintain for people of all ages and abilities. You only need lie down for the practice, and you can even fall asleep.

Toronto, Canada’s Hoame meditation studio co-founders Stephanie Kersta, MSc, RP, and Carolyn Plater, MSW, RSW, are both sleep specialists trained in CBT-I for adolescents and adults. They explained how the practice of Yoga Nidra can help accomplish REM sleep.

“Yoga nidra, also known as yogic sleep, is a lying-down meditation that utilizes specific breathing and attention techniques to deepen your level of relaxation and coaxes your body into the varying levels of consciousness. It has been reported that one hour of yoga nidra is the equivalent of eight hours of REM sleep.

It also has been shown to be helpful in supporting sleep onset for those who struggle with sleeping. Yoga nidra stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is our rest and relaxation response. Tapping into this regularly will allow us to tap into it quicker prior to sleeping.

Additionally, while practicing yoga nidra, you are bringing attention to your third eye (space between your eyebrows) – this area is also where our pineal gland is located and this gland is the one responsible for creating melatonin, the sleep hormone!”

In celebration of World Sleep Day on March 15th, Hoame will host sleep-themed mediation classes with free slippers, a Saje dose bar and more. Book your visit at hoame.ca.

Richard Miller: Integrative Restoration, Yoga Nidra – The Pilot Light

 play-iconRichard Miller: Integrative Restoration, Yoga Nidra

“What is the singular thread that runs through every spiritual tradition? Yoga nidra (nidra means “sleep” in Yoga) gives us a framework off of which to hang so many teachings. Yoga nidra is like a tree with many branches that many spiritual teachings can hang off of, and the main trunk is the singularity. Yoga nidra offers many branches to hang Eastern teachings off of, and one can also hang many Western teachings off of it too. We can see every western psychological approach and every eastern approach reflect one another, but we can also see the singularity within them that they all share in common, and so East and West fall away into one singularity of understanding. We can learn how to welcome the fact that all that we are is an expression that comes out of this deep mystery that has given birth to the entire cosmos. Everything, everything is part of that mystery. Every thought, every emotion, every body sensation, every person, every tree, every rock is that mystery incarnate. So, you have to think, ‘What am I trying to get rid of? What am I trying to change?’”

Richard Miller, PhD, spiritual teacher, yogic scholar, and clinical psychologist, has devoted 46 years to integrating Western psychology and neuroscience with the Eastern nondual wisdom teachings of yoga, Taoism, Buddhism, and the Judeo-Christian traditions. Developer of the research-based Integrative Restoration iRest Meditation program, Richard is founding president of the Integrative Restoration Institute, co-founder of the International Association of Yoga Therapists, past founding president of the Institute for Spirituality and Psychology, and author of iRest Meditation, The iRest Program for Healing PTSD, and Yoga Nidra: The Meditative Heart of Yoga. Richard leads retreats and trainings internationally, emphasizing enlightened living in daily life.

Mindful U host David DeVine with Richard Miller, PhD.

Full transcript

Richard Miller
“Integrative Restoration, Yoga Nidra” [MUSIC]

Hello. And welcome to Mindful U at Naropa. A podcast presented by Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado.

I’m your host, David Devine. And itÕs a pleasure to welcome you. Joining the best of Eastern and Western educational traditions – Naropa is the birth place of the modern mindfulness movement.

[MUSIC] [00:00:44.11] DAVID:
Hello, today I’d like to welcome a very special guest to the podcast and the Naropa community, Richard Miller. Richard is a clinical psychologist, a yoga scholar, an author and a spiritual teacher. He is also the founder of multiple organizations. And itÕs a pleasure to be speaking with you today so thank you for coming. [00:01:02.00] RICHARD MILLER:
Thank you for having me. ItÕs a pleasure to be here. [00:01:04.11] DAVID:
Yeah, and you’re just fresh off of a workshop that you just did here at Naropa. So, itÕs just really fun to kind of catch you at the end of it. Your kind of new experiences we can just talk about. ItÕs really fun to have you. [00:01:15.23] RICHARD MILLER:
Absolutely. I’m ready to dive in. [00:01:19.02] DAVID:
Awesome. So, I’m kind of curious who are you? How did you come to where you are? What inspired you to do the work you’re doing — say for instance, there is a listener out there that doesnÕt necessarily know who you are. How did you get to where you are now? [00:01:33.13] RICHARD MILLER:
I love to tell this interesting story. I grew up on the east coast. In Princeton, New Jersey. And, came out to California where I now reside back in 1967 for the first time and loved it so much, when I graduated from college in 1970, I just packed up my car and drove right to San Francisco and when I got to the city, I didn’t know anyone. And somehow, 1970 I decided to take a yoga class at the Integral Yoga Institute run by Swami Satchidananda. And little did I know that the class was going to be taught in silence for 12 weeks.

So, over the course of 12 weeks we came into the building in silence. We did the practices in silence except for the teacher and we left in silence, so I never met a soul. But I like to say at the end of the first class — when the teacher taught a rudimentary – what I now know as yoga nidra meditation I had a life transformative moment.

Where I left the building feeling deeply connected both to myself and a sense of my place in the universe — this sense of unitiveness. And as I was walking home that evening — this kind spontaneous vow rose up to one — what just happened? And what was this practice that we just did? And how can I learn more? Now, back then I was a — graduated as a BS in psychology. And, I was exploring San Francisco in ways that I might learn the art of psychotherapy. And I was volunteering at suicide prevention as — on the phones.

And, I started volunteering at this interesting clinic where I met a woman Laura Cummings who was willing to take me on as a student to learn psychotherapy. She herself had grown up in the far east. She had learned yoga from her mother who was half Chinese and she grow up in a Buddhist community. She had been trained personally by Erich Fromm and an associate of RD Lang.

So, when she took me on and I started mentoring with her she actually would invite into every session she gave and then we’d talk afterwards and debrief what had happened, but then right from the beginning she was helping me understand the integration of yoga, Buddhism, psychotherapy, existential phenomenological from the perspective of Robert Halsh who she had studied with — with RD Lang and humanistic psychology.

So, looking back now — it was a complete integration. I never saw psychology in spirituality as separate. They all felt very unified. Now, also in those days I decided to sit as well as doing yoga — Zen. So, I was sitting Zen and sitting in Mahayana Buddhism because Laura was Mahayana Buddhist. So, all these practices were coming into my life. I met a wonderful remarkable teacher who had come from China. His great grandfather had been the physician to the emperor of China. And I started studying Chinese medicine with him — Daoist yoga. Started practicing acupuncture. And, opened a yoga studio. So, I have got all these balls in the air in learning psychotherapy. I am learning Chinese medicine. I am studying yoga. I am studying Buddhism and they are all coming together in an area what I now see was a unique way.

[00:05:43.08] DAVID:
Wow, everything you’ve just said sounds extremely unique and just extremely enriching of so much spirit and thought and body practice and just mindfulness in general. ItÕs very interesting to kind of hear that story — it almost seems like you didn’t have a direction. And the direction chose you almost? [00:06:02.18] RICHARD MILLER:
You know itÕs true because in those days I was trying to feel in what’s my dharma. What’s my work in the world? And going between psychology and yoga and Buddhism there came a moment where I started a clinic — a psychology clinic where I started a clinic — a psychology clinic with Laura and another of her students. But after a couple of years of doing it and I was only in my early 20s — I realized I felt — I didn’t have the maturity to really sit with people in the way that I was being asked to sit with people’s very intimate issues.

So, I decided to leave the field of psychology and dive headlong into the field of yoga and Chinese medicine and so for a number of years — I really just dove deeply into the teachings of yoga and Chinese medicine and all the literature in terms of Buddhism and the different teachings. Also found my way to India with a teacher in India – TKV Desikachar studying yoga therapy. When I came back from India that was 1980, I continued my studies with Chinese medicine having actually taken my needles to India and I worked in a free clinic for three months there but when I came back, I realized I was kind of complete with Chinese medicine and it was really the yoga and the psychology which were now driving me.

And, I soon met who would become ultimately wife Ann. And I remember taking a long walk in the hills contemplating what am I doing and what’s my work in the world and I’m a yogi living out of my studio with basically my loin cloth and a….and I remember taking this walk in the hills of Fairfax and this voice came out of nowhere and it said — it was like God speaking to me, Richard — psychotherapy.

And a week later, I had an office. I had clients. And I still had my yoga studio and I took off in the domain of really integrating now and feeling now I was in my early 30s feeling much more mature and ready to sit with clients.

[00:08:23.00] DAVID:
There is so many lenses in which you are able to look through and you’ve studied a lot of different modalities of thought, spirit, healing, energetic liveliness and just learning how to thrive pretty much. And it just seems a very unique perspective in which you hold only or maybe other’s hold too but like you have such a unique approach to this thing that you’re creating ultimately. And itÕs just really cool to like witness and hear this story. [00:08:54.03] RICHARD MILLER:
Yeah, for me looking back at times I would feel disoriented or not knowing but it always felt I was looking for what felt right. I wasn’t so much interested in the path say that my parents might have wanted me to be in because I was kind of a black sheep in the family — I used to send them books that I was reading and write them long letters and they send me back the books and they would say Richard you don’t understand we’re dogs, you’re cats and dogs don’t really understand cats. And we would actually joke about it. And actually my — I wrote a letter to my dad one time talking all about what I was doing, and he wrote me back. He said — and I still have the letter. That was the most beautiful letter I think I’ve ever received in my life — I didn’t understand a word you said, but just that you took time to write.

So, for me it was always trying to feel what felt right. And, that really develops within me I would say the inner compass that has through the years has really helped me stay on course.

[00:10:03.06] DAVID:
I am starting to realize that everyone has the same mechanisms in which we all have so we are able to understand each other but there might be some layovers and or different ways of looking at it from the natural go to ways. Maybe changing the mind — the neuroplasticity of thought or changing the energetic plasticity of your heart. Or something like that. We all have the same apparatuses, so we can understand each other. The understanding languages. [00:10:32.23] RICHARD MILLER:
I think of them as familial overlays, cultural overlays, overlays from our personal experience, which can obstruct of sensing what’s the right direction and I kept really exploring those kind of cultural morays I grew up in. And the family morays and really trying to discern what was my path and then drawing on the strengths because I grew up in a very loving family — so I drew upon the strengths of those, but I had to in a way set aside a number of the morays that I grew up and I — I did feel at times terror, fear. Because I felt like I was in unknown territory constantly. I didn’t have anything to hold onto that I knew. And yet, I felt the strength of the teachings and the modalities I was immersing myself in — and it felt like they were my safe haven showing me the way.

So, for me it feels like itÕs been life showing me what to do and I’ve been getting better and better at following marching orders that I am constantly being given in my life.

[00:11:47.01] DAVID:
Well, it seems like you are doing a great job. [00:11:48.07] RICHARD MILLER:
Well, we’re trying the best we know how. [00:11:51.17] DAVID:
Awesome. So, from what I am hearing is there such an inspiration from the eastern way of living and also the western way of living and what I really appreciate about you and your work is you’re doing this bridging kind of effort between both — you’re respecting both, you’re understanding, you’re learning and then you are bringing them together. And my question for you is how does that show up in the way you teach, why bring them together — clinical psychology and yoga. How much more powerful is that to you than just showing as a clinical psychologist? [00:12:27.17] RICHARD MILLER:
I have to give credit and gratitude to that first mentor Laura who helped me make that integration and really inquiry into myself as what’s my path. The eastern teachings for some reason — itÕs a mystery kept drawing me to them, but I was well read in eastern and western psychology and the teachings of Advaita Vedanta and Kashmir nondualism. So, I felt this kind of early on a split and which would take me and slowly they integrated more and more so they felt like an integrated path.

Now, my dad was a medical doctor. I grew up reading his textbooks at night when he would go to bed. I would sneak down and read all these weird books that he had in his library about surgery. He was a surgeon. And, when I got into psychology of course we were reading deeply into research and how the mind works and all of that. As I got involved in yoga, it occurred to me in my early teachers when I would ask them why are you asking me to do this — they basically say well trust me.

And I had a very untrusting mind. I wanted to know why this was working. So, I started combing the literature for research and there was research coming out of India in those days and some early research out of the Menninger Foundation here in the states. So, I started reading and diving into all the literature and research both on the western side and the eastern side.

Years later in the mid 80s a friend of mine Larry Payne and I decided to come together and form and found the IAYT — the International Association for Yoga Therapy. And, what I realize was on the yoga side — or Buddhist side — people didn’t really have access to the research. I had all this access to the research. So, I thought why not create journal where I could make this research available to people and teachers, students of yoga who otherwise might not know that it exists. [00:14:48.10] So, very early on I started bringing it out in writings to help both myself because it was my interests, but then the people I was working with and of course the journal for the International Yoga Association.

[00:15:01.22] DAVID:
Interesting. I just randomly thought of this. Do you feel like the western mind is the — why? Has the like — it doesn’t have the like trust you know and then the eastern mind might be like oh I trust my teacher. I am just going to do what they say and then uncover the teachings in which they are ultimately teaching me? [00:15:20.14] RICHARD MILLER:
No, I reflect what you are saying. I think so. There is — in India you trust the guru. You trust the lineage. You trust everything. In the West, we really have an inquisitive mind. We’re trying to understand the why’s or the how’s. Now, I was fortunate when I went to India and studied with TKV Desikachar. In even our first lesson, he said look I am an eastern practitioner. I grew up in India. You’re a westerner. I don’t want you to take the eastern teachings and impose it onto the western mind. Can we work together to help you understand how to take these teachings from the east into the western world — in the wester mind. So, to make that integration and I took that very much to heart. So, I was fortunate with Laura who came from the Far East. She was very much in the mind of what is your experience? So, both trusting your heart but understanding in a way the why’s and the how’s then Desikachar opened me to that and then later on I met another spiritual teacher Juan Kline and it was fun when I used to study with him, I’d be taking notes about what he was saying. And he’d wander around the room at times and he’d come over and he’d look at my notes and he’d look at me. And then he’d look at my notes and then he’d look at me and then he’d say point to me and he’d said make it your own.

So, I feel fortunate that the teachers I found my way to were helping me from the inside out understand these teachings. They were all supportive of me diving in the research and making this integration of how do we take these precious eastern teachings into a western mind we might say. And use them more as points of self inquiry rather than just digesting a whole new philosophy.

What I came to understand is all the teachings are built on self inquiries that are really designed to help us come upon our own understanding. And so, that’s the way that I’ve integrated, and I try to bring it out when I am teaching.

[00:17:48.15] DAVID:
It seems as though through the self-inquiry is where the real teaching — the healing, the developing the energy within the thriving is actually where that happens, and the teachers are there to be a reflection and or someone to provide information. [00:18:05.15] RICHARD MILLER:
Yeah, I think of teachers as sacred mirrors. They’re helping us reflect back to our self and really dive deeply into our self and bring that understanding that is already in there that is innate and bring it out so that we can recognize it and then apply it in action. [00:18:24.20] DAVID:
They make it seem not as scary because if you do it on your own there is some — you’re like oh I don’t know about that. [00:18:31.08] RICHARD MILLER:
Right, or we get lost in different avenues and the teacher if itÕs a really good teacher can help us stay more on track. There is another point here, which you’re making me think of which is when I first learned some of these practices and I was invited to teach in the early 70s I was taking the teachings from India and bringing it to my students.

But I began to wonder. I was asking to see certain images, colors, forms that I had learned — certain sounds. I began to be curious what are their images, their colors, their forms, their sounds. So, I started letting go of the eastern teachings, but using the inquiries that I was learning from these east. So, I started asking people when you feel into your body — where is the sensation that’s drawing your attention and when you go here in your body can you describe it and are there any particular images, colors, forms that are coming out of your psyche that are particular to your culture, family, history whatever?

What I found was the practices actually became more powerful. Because people were really excited in their awakening from the inside out rather than from the outside in.

[00:19:58.16] DAVID:
I like that idea too because then you are inviting them to feel what they’re authentically having show up instead of inserting this maybe you should see it this way. I was actually sitting in on the last hour of your teaching that you just finished your workshop with and you were like does anyone else have any like colors or ideas and I wrote mine down. And I think of it as an ingredients because we are all mentally cooking something, and you talked about like steeping in the stew and all that and so I think of things that we work with they’re just cooking ingredients. And itÕs how we cook it, how we prep it, what ingredients we use that gives us our energetic nutrients and how we move forward and — how we grow our gardens. [00:20:41.07] RICHARD MILLER:
Yeah, you were suggesting earlier which I — I agree with which is all the ingredients are already here inside of this and we’re learning to recognize them, bringing them forward and as you say in your metaphor put them in the stew pot and then they start to cook and we get a really good flavor going and then I think is one of Rumi’s poems he talks about the chickpeas are constantly trying to leap out of the pot before they are cooked and on a good teaching and teacher keeps us in a way stewing until we’re fully cooked. [00:21:13.19] DAVID:
Ok, yeah, I really like that. LAUGHS. Awesome. So, you are a PhD in clinical psychology and you’re also a yoga practitioner, scholar, how does psychology and yoga show up for you together? How do you teach them together and how does that relationship between the two empower your teachings more? [00:21:36.10] RICHARD MILLER:
This practice that I was introduced to in my first yoga session, which I now know was a rudimentary yoga nidra. I really started looking into the Upanishads, the sacred literature, and trying to understand what is this practice?

So, yoga, what I’ve come to understand and really feel is — the embodied feeling of our interconnectedness with our self and our place in the universe. So, we feel at one with everything.

Nidra while it means sleep in yoga, I came to understand is a changing state of consciousness. So, yoga nidra was a form where we were coming to know our interconnected wholeness both as a separate human being but also as a unique expression and at one with the universe. No matter the state of consciousness. So, we come upon this really delicious inner somatic felt sense — itÕs a unitive consciousness and we’re able to feel it whether we’re happy, sad, irritated, whatever is going on. Then I started looking at the different elements that made up the practice. And along the way I was picking up the teachings of Samkhya, Patanjali, Advaita Vedanta and the Saivism unqualified nondualism.

But as I said I was also studying into Daoist yoga. I was studying Mahayana Buddhism and Zen. And along the way delving into Zazen and Mahamudra. I began to wonder what’s the singular thread through all these different teachings? I also at one time considered becoming a minister and was headed for the ministry and ultimately came back to the yoga because I realized if I went to the ministry, I’d still be back here doing what I am doing.

I was always interested in what’s the singular thread that runs through every spiritual tradition? And the yoga nidra gave me a framework with which I could began to hang off every teaching I had ever been exposed to. The yoga nidra for me is like a tree with all these branches that the teachings I can hang off of — but the main trunk is that kind of singularity that they all have in common.

So, as I began to either both practice and then teach it — and get reflections from my — while I was teaching and then working within psychology, I began to see both yoga nidra was an ability for me to hang all the eastern teachings off of. But also, then I realized I could hang all the western teachings on it too. And all of the sudden the clarity became so amazing where I could see every western psychological approach, every eastern approach reflecting one another, but the singularity within them that they all shared in common and so east and west for me fell away into this singularity of understanding.

[00:24:55.06] DAVID:
They are so compatible with each other. You have such an interdisciplinary way of looking at everything. Before I was 14 years old, I almost became like 6 different religions and then I was 21 I found Buddhism and what I realized with Buddhism is spirit is within. You don’t have to have a community, but it always helps to have a community. And I realized — the thing I was searching for was like already inside of me. And it sounds like uh when you’re searching for the thing to hang it on — the trunk what you’re actually going for is the authenticity based in truth and love. And, all those things are trying to teach you how to be authentic, but they just have the different modality of getting you there. You know itÕs like you’re choosing a different route, but you have the same destination in which you’re going to and itÕs just all based on finding yourself, finding your higher path and I just love how you’re — you just took them all together and you made your stew. You know itÕs like the — the trunk was the pot in which you put all the ingredients in. [00:26:00.19] RICHARD MILLER:
And as you’re saying it, it reflects back to me what I discovered that there are kind of 4 movements in our development. The first really for us — as human beings I think is to become a good integrated individuated human being. Friendly terms with our emotions, our thoughts, our body sensation. So that we can responsible to all of our emotions in every situation that comes. [00:26:29.08] I think there is in where the strength of the western psychology lives.

It really has the tools and offers us the tools of how to be a good integrated healthy ego that feels our self as separate. Then the eastern teachings come in and they really help us how to wake up out of that census separation. Find our place in the universe where we feel a unity with everything. And no sense of separation. And then how do we bring that back down, reembody it in ourselves with our emotions, our thoughts and then take that into our relationships, into our work, our life and all the aspects. Along the way I found at points like I had two teachers in Advaita and at times they both independently because they didn’t know each other told me if you really want to realize these sacred Indian teachings and really become enlightened you’re going to have to leave your family, leave your job, check into a monastery and we’d support you in doing that.

And I thought to myself, I am a westerner. I’ve got children. I’ve got a wife who I love. I’ve got a job that I really enjoy. If I can’t realize these teachings within a western lifestyle their really not going to work for anybody. So, it became my challenge I would say to make this integration of how do I take these very precious eastern teachings, the precious western teachings that I absorbed — bring them together and use them to awaken as a westerner in the midst of circumstances, job, children, family.

And what I came to discover is really nothing needs to get in the way. Everything is in a way manure and fertilizer for our awakening.

[00:28:37.03] DAVID:
How else we’re you going to grow that flower? You know what I mean? To get that essence of the pure beauty through the compost. [00:28:43.21] RICHARD MILLER:
Well, that’s my sense that really to become an awake human being operating on all 12 cylinders — we have to be on friendly terms with our body, our mind. We have to learn how to welcome all that we are — and one of the insights I’ve had personally is for me everything I look at — is an expression that comes out of this deep mystery that has given birth to the entire cosmos.

And so, when I look around at everything, I realize everything — is part of that mystery. Everything thought, every emotion, everybody sensation, every person, every tree, every rock is the mystery incarnate. So, what am I trying to get rid of? What am I trying to change? So, my practice has really been of one of welcoming everything as expressions of that underlying mystery that I am. That you are. And, embodying that in every moment — and what I found is that awakens tremendous compassion, love, really grounded sense of deep safety within ourselves and when we see everything as our self actually it brings an end to conflict and war.

Because we become intimately interested in everything.

[00:30:16.17] DAVID:
And, it almost seems as though through the relationship building of becoming friends with one self like the heart and the mind channel ways. Once they stop arguing then the ickiness kind of just dissolves. Or realizing it never was there is kind of self-inflicted or just made up. [00:30:37.08] RICHARD MILLER:
Learned habits I would say. And — [00:30:40.00] DAVID:
You just — we need to clear our perspectives. [00:30:42.18] RICHARD MILLER:
Yeah, and I like that image everything loses its stickiness and it just becomes very delicious and even the difficult challenging moments — I mean still as a human being have my preferences. I’d like to feel good. And I’d like everything to run smoothly, but when things don’t — I am able to welcome them in and I use everything as a messenger. So, an emotion, a thought, a difficult circumstance — I’m trying to look at — how can this teach me so that I can feel I am responding in this moment and in harmony with the universe rather than just a separate ego trying to make my way in the world. [00:31:25.15] DAVID:
Yeah, what is the medicine in this moment? [00:31:27.21] RICHARD MILLER:
Nice. [00:31:28.21] DAVID:
And how do we use that? Yeah, one thing that I am realizing in my life is there seems as though there has been a lot of like things I don’t agree with happening in my life, but what I’ve realized is if you show up in truth and love and you make your decisions rooted in that there might be some momentary pain but you ultimately are tending to the garden of your energy and it will only serve you. It will only help you out if you step forward in that in every moment. Which isn’t easy — sometimes, but the more you do it the more you just kind of default to just being really good hearted. [00:32:04.15] RICHARD MILLER:
Life is challenging, and I think these tools that we’re talking about from the east and the west — there the ownerÕs manual we may not have gotten when we were a kid — and they’re giving us the tools with which to be and grow that garden. And grow that capacity to feel tremendous love and self-kindness and compassion both for our self and the people we are in relationship with. [00:32:30.14] DAVID:
And its ok to update your operating system. [00:32:33.00] RICHARD MILLER:
All the time. [00:32:35.22] DAVID:
Awesome. So, I want to speak a little bit about iRest. Naropa invited you for the weekend workshop for the Breeze of Simplicity and you had like a packed house of people just laying down and through guided meditation and conversation — can you tell us what iRest is. It was — its an organization you started or is it a process or — can you just tell me what that is? [00:32:56.22] RICHARD MILLER:
Well, right now itÕs a little bit of both. Originally, I learned it as yoga nidra. A form of meditation coming out of the yoga tradition. And I taught it as yoga nidra for many years. In 2004, I was invited by Walter Reed Army Medical Center to do a study using the program with wounded warriors coming back from war with post-traumatic stress syndrome. When I started to engage the research — they came to me and they said you know — we’re army. We’re marines. We’re Navy. We don’t do yoga. Yoga is for sissies. Call it something else. [00:33:37.22] DAVID:
You’ll be surprised. [00:33:39.02] RICHARD MILLER:
Well, I thought about it and I thought ok let’s call it integrative restoration. So integrative because I think these practices integrate our psyche and help us become a — a potentially aided fully individuated awake human being. And restorative because they restore this innate sense of wholeness and unity consciousness to the forefront of our awareness. And back in 2004, everything was iPad and iPhone so why not iRest. I for integrative and a small “I” which for me means the ego is helping find its proper functioning which is not the driver. [00:34:20.02] DAVID:
I see what you did there. [00:34:21.00] RICHARD MILLER:
ItÕs just a passenger. And then restoration. So, the — the military came back to me and said we can do integrative restoration. So, we entered into the research and it was so successful to this date any wounded warrior going through their healing process at Walter Reed Army Medical Center can take our program as part of their healing regimen. A couple of years later I got a call from the head psychiatrist and he said you know we love your program. ItÕs been highly successful. We’ve decided you can call it anything you want.

So, we call it — integrative restoration iRest yoga nidra meditation.

[00:35:03.00] DAVID:
Whoa. [00:35:03.16] RICHARD MILLER:
And the reason I do that is I go into a lot of homeless shelters, clinics, a chemical dependency units, hospitals, all over the world, VA, DOD sites. I teach then — iRest. So, when I say to someone when they ask me what do you do and I say well, I teach iRest. They are very curious. They go well what’s that? I have an open door now to talk about anything. When I go to a yoga center, I teach yoga nidra. Because that’s the words that they are familiar with. When I go to a Buddhist meditation center, I teach meditation. But itÕs all the same. So, the words I think give us access because long ago when I’d be on a plane and somebody said what do you do? And I’d say well I teach yoga. And they’d immediately say oh I need to exercise more.

So, I decided to say I teach meditation and then they would say oh — I need to relax more. And I realized if I said I teach yoga or mediation I was immediately put in a box.

[00:36:13.17] DAVID:
Assumptions show up. [00:36:15.11] RICHARD MILLER:
But if somebody says well what do you teach, and I say oh I teach iRest and they go well what’s that? And now I have the freedom to talk about anything. [00:36:22.22] DAVID:
Interesting because then they — they show up with a question. They rebuttal. They are like well tell me more. And I’d love to/ [00:36:29.11] RICHARD MILLER:
Exactly. And the other thing is when I go into an organization like a homeless shelter or the military. I want to teach it in a very secular manner. So, that they realize I am not trying to impose anything. There is no philosophy I am pushing. I am actually teaching them a series of inquiries — 10 steps within a 38 larger map. That are helping them come to health, healing and for those awakening.

But itÕs a very secular program. Now, when I am here at Naropa there are no holds barred so I can talk —

[00:37:08.19] DAVID:
Give it to us, you know. [00:37:09.08] RICHARD MILLER:
…everything. So, I can talk about yoga and nidra and the teachings out of which it comes, but I am also trying to showcase it also as how is it also a secular program so that anybody can utilize it? And, years ago I realized what I would like to have as a teacher is when I am standing at the door after having taught a class. Everybody who is filing out is whispering in my ear — thank you for making the practice just for me today.

Now, one of those is a Buddhist, one is a yogi, one is a Christian, one is a Jew, one is a Muslim, one is a Rosicrucian, one is an atheist — in other words I’ve got one of everybody filing by me and saying the exact thing — thank you for making the practice just for me today.

So, I think we as teachers need to teach in a way that each person in the room is feeling this is the practice, they are making just for me. That’s a skill that I think comes with time, but when we’re speaking to a group where there are all these different people in the room from people with different backgrounds, different cultures — there might be somebody from China. Somebody from India. Someone from Japan and America, Australia. I want to be teaching to them in such a way that they really feel I am teaching particularly to them. So, I think that’s where to make these teachings in a way secular to take a lot of the eastern and western psychological jargon out of it and really use simple straightforward language — but use language in such a way they go that’s interesting — can you say more about that?

So, it really piques people curiosity.

[00:39:04.05] DAVID:
Interesting, yeah that there is a lot of power in that. There is a lot of relatability and there is a lot of diversity and it sounds like you’ve done your homework of multiple different perspectives. And so, you’re able to say different words in moments and to feel it out too. So, thank you for sharing all that. [00:39:24.10] RICHARD MILLER:
Yeah, and there is a piece that I will often do when I went to the military I realized if I walked in starting — spouting all sorts of spiritual language they kicked me right out of the room. So, what I started to do and now this is what I do with my students — I ask them to come into their body, have their experience and then describe it to me. So, if someone say I ask them to come to rest back in a moment of just being quiet. And to feel into themselves and come into kind of a relaxed state of being and have them describe it — whether I am in a homeless shelter, a military center, a hospital with oriented or non-oriented people I find they’re telling me the same things like I feel this sense of presence.

Or this sense of peace or equanimity or openness. Now, I love it. They just gave me the words that now I can speak back to them and because they gave me the words — they’ll accept the words from me but if I had come in and said I want you to rest back and feel this sense of equanimity and peace and presence they would have said huh?

[00:40:39.06] DAVID:
Yeah, what’s that? [00:40:39.18] RICHARD MILLER:
Toss me out of the room. [00:40:42.06] DAVID:
Interesting they’re internally mapping the landscape for you and then you’re just like ok I am going to read that map. [00:40:49.17] RICHARD MILLER:
And what I come to appreciate of whether I’ve been in China, whether I’ve been in Australia, England — wherever I go and whomever I am with — when I actually have them go into their own experience — they all give me the same words. ItÕs like cross cultural that is coming out of the depths of our experience as a human being. [00:41:12.22] DAVID:
There is something there. ‘ [00:41:14.10] RICHARD MILLER:
There is something there that we all share in common. [00:41:18.03] DAVID:
We’re quickly running out of time. This so much fun you know and so easy I feel like we can just keep talking forever. But, Naropa University is in the process of developing a yoga therapy program. And I’m curious how does therapy and yoga show up for you like why is that a good combination? [00:41:36.10] RICHARD MILLER:
When Larry Payne and I decided to co-found this organization — we actually had an arm wrestling match — do we call it the International Association of Yoga Therapy or the International Association of Yoga Educators?

And back in 1980 when we were having this conversation therapy was gaining momentum. And so much to my dismay we ended up calling the International Association of Yoga Therapy.

But I think really yoga therapy is educational. We’re helping people dive into themselves. Come to their realizations and what we find is healing takes place. And so, we might say then its therapeutic because often times I’m having people rest back really inquire into their body, welcoming sensation, emotions. They will come off the floor and they — what just happened because I’ve had chronic pain for 12 years and its gone!

Or I’ve had this depression and I can’t find it anymore — itÕs like gone. And so, we know that the — the tools of yoga are very therapeutic but we’re not using them prescriptively. We’re using them or the way that I think of yoga therapy is we’re creating portals of self-inquiry. Now, there are tools in our — our arsenal of yoga like postures and pranayama where we can give people interventions.

But when I do — I give it to them as a way of them exploring themself and I’ve come to appreciate when we do that — working together because I think the yoga therapist and the student or client, we’re co-creating the healing. And, itÕs based on the relationship that I am engineering a safe environment of trust where they can begin to explore themselves and I know in any relationship there will be mistakes that be made and itÕs the trust that’s engendered that help us look at what was that mistake?

For instance, when I first Desikachar I had serious neck injury. So, he gave me a series of poses to do and breathings. I came back several days later — I said you know what you gave me is making me feel worse.

And he said isn’t that fantastic. Now, we know what doesn’t work. And I trusted him and slowly we developed together a plan that worked. But I was drawing on his experience, but I was the practitioner who was trying it out. So, yoga therapy for me is educational. We’re giving people interventions, but itÕs also looking at I wonder if this will work?

Now, I’ve been practicing for some 48 years. So, I have I think some very good tools that I can use as a starting point and I’m pretty sure these are going to have a benefit.

But I’m always holding in my mind they may not, and can we have a trusting relationship, so you can come back to me and they say you know what you gave me didn’t work. Now, I can say like Desikachar said to me — fantastic how we know what doesn’t work. And we start to proceed.

[00:45:01.03] DAVID:
And that’s kind of a trip to hear. You’re just like all of the sudden what do you mean fantastic — like it didn’t work and you’re like no, no, no. Now, let’s try something that might. You know let’s move on. [00:45:11.13] RICHARD MILLER:
It is a process of elimination. And you know as experienced practitioners we get better and better at guessing at what’s going to work, but we’ve got to still hope and have that openness for exploration and not get held hostage by the things we’ve learned. ItÕs that openness and curiosity that I think is the driving force behind yoga therapy. [00:45:33.05] DAVID:
So, I have one more question for you. And, uh I am also going to just add a little something on the back end of that. So, I am curious — it seems like you — you work on a lot of different things and you’re just kind of always moving. You got a lot of energy and this is beautiful. What’s coming up for you that you’re working on that you’re really excited about and you’d like to say or anything you’d like to share about the work you’ve been discovering? And also, can you just uh let the listeners know how to reach you, how to find you, maybe uh some informational books that you have written. [00:46:04.00] RICHARD MILLER:
I have been doing this work for 49 — almost 50 years. And what’s exciting me now is at a stage of my life of passing on the knowledge that I’ve gained, the experience I’ve gained to my students and the people I am working with. And, I’m engaged with different processes for uh filming what I am doing so we can put it into legacies. But really, itÕs about passing on what I got from all of my teachers and keep that learning going. So, that’s really my passion is, and I’ve got a number of books that I am writing trying to organize the teachings in such a way that they can be passed on easily.

So, over the years uh I had originally a nonprofit called The Center of Timeless Being when iRest really caught hold we changed the name to the Integrative Restoration Institute and we just changed it to the iRest Institute to make it really simple. But on our — on our website at www.irest.org we actually are having two portals. One that go into the secular teachings for healing and well-being and one that go deeply into the nondual exploration of meditation, so people can find access to the teachings that are — are resonating with them.

So, I published a number of books which Sounds True and New Harbinger. I’ve got actually five books that I am trying to write right now.

[00:47:38.02] DAVID:
Look at you. Geez. [00:47:39.20] RICHARD MILLER:
And, I am — you know I am excited because I am being invited to places like China and Japan and just feeling the wave of yoga nidra that’s — that’s starting to really grow and crest. So, itÕs a wonderful period in my life to see these teachings of yoga really have taken hold, blossoming and like when I show up here at Naropa and we’ve got 90 people in the room who are just on fire. That — is great. [00:48:14.04] DAVID:
Energetically on fire. Yeah, the — when I walked in the energy was really high and really good, but at the same time it was — it was really low and felt — it felt like a cloud. Like just a really energetic cloud and all — it just held you really nicely because the iRest is very chill. Very relaxing. ItÕs very informative. There is a lot of inquiry in the body and in the mind. And there is a lot of space to do some homework. [00:48:43.22] RICHARD MILLER:
You know I will add one more thing, I think the teachings that I have been given — and helped uncover and this singularity of the thread that I think runs through all teachings — what I find when people come, and this is really exciting to me — from other traditions. They are coming from the Sufi tradition or a Buddhist tradition or a Zen — or a no tradition at all. They are getting excited because they’re seeing teachings that are informing their practice — and helping them understand their own practices in a much more — deeper and authentic way. And, while I am — you might say pushing yoga nidra and yoga teachings in general — I’m really excited how they are innovating other forms of teachings and then people are integrating these teachings into their forms of Buddhism or Christianity. Years ago, I was teaching, and a woman came up to me afterwards and said I’m a fundamental Christian. I can’t find anything to object in your teachings. And I thought to myself — I just got the seal of Good Housekeeping. So, I love that we can move these teachings into any community — no matter their philosophical or religious spiritual background and they go away feeling more informed, more on fire in their own tradition. [00:50:05.14] DAVID:
Very inviting. And you can’t find anything wrong if you’re always stepping forward in truth. [00:50:12.22] RICHARD MILLER:
Yes. [00:50:13.07] DAVID:
Truth is never wrong. So — [00:50:15.08] RICHARD MILLER:
You can’t fight with reality. ItÕs always going to win. [00:50:19.17] DAVID:
ItÕs going to win. Nature just wants to encourage you. That’s all its really trying to do. Well, I really appreciate you speaking with me. I feel — I feel really good. This was a great conversation. You just have so much energy and so much excitement. You’ve been doing this work a long time and you have so much knowledge, but you come at it from a point of view of as a student and a teacher and a knowledgeable person who has done their homework and itÕs just really refreshing and just exciting to witness. [00:50:47.17] RICHARD MILLER:
I want to go to my death bed learning. Every day. Curious and open to what’s new and what’s in this moment that I am opening to. Absolutely. [00:50:59.09] DAVID:
That might be the biggest lesson you have. [00:51:01.12] RICHARD MILLER:
Yes. [00:51:02.00] DAVID:
Wow. So, thank you so much for sharing. I appreciate it. [00:51:04.01] RICHARD MILLER:
Thank you. This has been fun. I’ve really enjoyed our conversation. So, I appreciate you bringing me on. [00:51:09.23] DAVID:
So, that was Richard Miller here on the podcast and with the Naropa community he is a clinical psychologist, a yoga scholar, an author, a spiritual teacher and he has founded many multiple organizations. And so, I’d just like to say thank you again. [MUSIC]

On behalf of the Naropa community thank you for listening to Mindful U. The official podcast of Naropa University. Check us out at www.naropa.edu or follow us on social media for more updates.


Finding a Deeper Understanding of Yoga Nidra

Answering Frequently Asked Questions With World-Renowned Yoga Teacher, Indu Arora

What exactly is Yoga Nidra? Nidra is derived from the Sanskrit word meaning sleep or slumber. It is a meditative and relaxing practice intended to bring the body into complete physical, mental and emotional rest. This deep dive into conscious relaxation promotes a restorative state for the mind and soul to decompress.

However, there are still many misconceptions regarding this particular practice of yoga due to its “sleepy” and meditative state. How can you determine if what you hear and read is true or false?

We asked Indu Arora, world-renowned yoga teacher and Yoga Nidra expert, to share her passion and extensive knowledge with us. Here are her responses to some frequently asked questions.

What’s the difference between Yoga Nidra and guided meditation?

I’ll start by saying that we are only capable of guiding someone towards concentration and focus. Meditation happens if there is an emotional, mental and physical readiness. That being said, there is a huge difference between meditation and Yoga Nidra for multiple reasons:

  • In meditation, you are trying to lift dormant energies up towards higher energy centers by gathering scattered pieces of the mind. However, in Yoga Nidra, there is a total dissolution of all possible energies and states of mind.
  • It is a common misconception to classify Yoga Nidra as a type of meditation. For meditation, it is really important for the spine to be upright and to lift up the body’s energy. In contrast, the common posture of Yoga Nidra is supine and relaxed.
  • Meditation begins with concentration, and Yoga Nidra begins with relaxation.
  • Meditation is practiced in order to master the mind. Yoga Nidra, on the other hand, is practiced to unveil the state of consciousness which controls the mind itself.

Is there a “best time” to practice nidra?

In the beginning stages, it’s great if you can practice whenever you feel the most inspired or when you can find time out of your day for it. However, if you would like to benefit from the cyclical rhythms of the body, it’s best to practice upon waking up or just before going to bed. These are both optimal times to tap into the unconscious through subconscious realms.

It is very important not to practice nidra when you are feeling tired. If you end up practicing tired, it’s likely that you’ll fall asleep, and that is not the goal. Nidra is not a practice that’s meant to release tiredness. If you are working on fatigue or insomnia, it is much better to practice relaxation or savasana.

Do you have to practice asana before nidra?

This really depends. If one can maintain alertness without experiencing roughness, tightness, restlessness, pain, discomfort, shakiness, sleepiness, dullness, absence of mind, etc., then there is absolutely no need for asana pre-practice.

I place a lot of importance on pre-practices, as well as post-practices, in the case of Yoga Nidra. It really demands steady preparation, because we are not naturally born ready for such deep practices. We must build a certain physical, mental, emotional and energetic appetite for them.

What’s the true origin of Yoga Nidra?

In all fairness, it’s difficult to say what the true origin is. As a start, I can point to the most ancient text called Rig Veda. It talks about the Glory of Night in Ratri Suktam. In this text, Yoga Nidra is revered as a goddess.

What do you feel is most important about a Yoga Nidra practice?

It is important to understand what it is that you are doing before you start doing it. One misconception can easily lead to another. Moreover, it is very difficult to unlearn what you have already learned.

It’s important to pay attention to the source you are studying from, whether it’s a person, text, video, audio or an app. The best way to go about a practice is to study in person from someone who has practiced Yoga Nidra. Don’t put all your focus on just learning technique. After all, knowledge is the most subtle type of food. If you are careful of what you eat, you must also be careful of what and from whom you study.

A Yoga Nidra practice is an incredible tool to become at one with your mind and your body. Take the time needed to digest what you learn and continue to study with the truest and sincerest desire to grow.

If you’re interested in learning more about Yoga Nidra with Indu Arora, you can register for her 5- Day Yoga Nidra Intensive workshop February 25 – March 1.

Learn about the history of Nidra, its origin, benefits and more during this informative and unique opportunity!

If you are unable to make it to Indu’s workshop, come by the Studio for a Yoga Nidra class offered on Thursdays at 7:15 pm.

The post Finding a Deeper Understanding of Yoga Nidra appeared first on Asheville Yoga Center.

What I Learned From Yoga Nidra, A Movement-Free Practice of Entering a Restful Trance

When I first started practicing yoga nidra, my friends thought I had joined a cult.

It wasn’t an absurd leap. Yoga nidra requires lying on your mat with your eyes closed while an instructor recites a script that’s meant to induce a deep, almost trancelike relaxation. It comprises several stages, including a body scan and visualization.

A pilot class was offered at my college, and since it was the first class the instructor had taught, it was a closed course offered by invite only. We were told each stage would be introduced over several weeks, but we weren’t told what those stages would be. The unspecified “final stage” was what seemed so cultlike, and while it turned out not to be anything sinister, it was slightly bizarre, involving visualizing objects from nature like trees and puppies.

Basically a highly structured guided meditation, yoga nidra is meant to bring you into a state of consciousness that’s similar to how you feel when you’re falling asleep. There are all kinds of unqualified claims about the benefits of practicing yoga nidra, such as a reduced need for sleep and enhanced creativity. At the beginning and end of class, you mentally repeat something called a sankalpa, which is a goal that you state as if you’d already achieved it. In his 1976 book on the subject, guru Satyananda Saraswati outlined yoga nidra as it’s practiced today, with a list of sankalpas that read like something out of The Secret: “I am successful in all that I undertake” and “I achieve total health.”


(Grant Kratzer)


I practice mediation just to get out of my own head, not really for spiritual reasons, so it all sounded a little esoteric. But it’s hard to deny that yoga nidra feels much deeper than sitting meditation. After class, I’d walk back to my dorm feeling like I had just woken up from the best nap of my life, with relaxed, focused energy and no grogginess.

There’s a limited but growing body of research about yoga nidra’s benefits for soldiers who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Partly inspired by Arianna Huffington’s book The Sleep Revolution, which extols the benefits of sleep for productivity, yoga nidra has become a fad in Silicon Valley.

In Portland, there are no standing yoga nidra classes, but workshops pop up around the city with enough regularity that there’s usually at least a few per month. North Portland Yoga and Mandala Yoga periodically host drop-in yoga nidra classes. Unfold on Southeast Division Street hosted a yoga nidra class on New Year’s Day, and the People’s Yoga on North Killingsworth Street is midway through a series that will continue into February. Last month, a Lake Oswego studio hosted a yoga nidra class that featured a live harpist.

Yoga nidra has yet to experience the same widespread popularity as asana-based yoga or mindfulness-based stress reduction, perhaps out of a reluctance to commodify a practice many teachers and students view as deeply spiritual. But Portland yoga nidra instructor Kyla Ferguson says there’s another reason the practice is only beginning to catch on.

“There’s a lot of value on really hard, sweaty vinyasa practice because it feels like you’re doing something for yourself and you’re sweating and maybe you’re burning calories,” says Ferguson, who teaches at Mandala Yoga on Southeast Belmont Street and recorded a short yoga nidra session for YouTube. “But there’s not as much of a cultural importance to accessing this kind of deep rest.”

Ferguson learned about yoga nidra when she was training to become a yoga teacher. At the time, she had also been dealing with burnout from her job as a social worker. Yoga nidra didn’t erase all her job stress, but it helped enough that when she decided to get her master’s in social work at Smith College, she conducted a study on the practice for her thesis.

“Yoga can make the stressful things in my life more sustainable,” she says. “I found that yoga nidra is a really incredible tool, so I wanted to study it in a scientific way.”

For the study, 11 employees of a mental health clinic in Seattle participated in a 20-minute yoga nidra class in the middle of their workday, led by Ferguson in an office conference room. She held one class a week for six weeks, recording the perceived stress level of each participant (as determined by a standard clinical questionnaire) before and after class. Though it was a small study, the results were clear. At the end of the course, the average reported stress level had decreased by more than 50 percent, and participants reported a decrease in work-induced fatigue.

“It definitely accesses a piece of rest that I think most of us in our daily lives and in our sleep cycles don’t access, even if we get a lot of sleep,” Ferguson says.

Sleep doesn’t exactly feel restful if you’re plagued by stress dreams or wake up in the middle of the night with your thoughts racing. In yoga nidra, you’re just conscious enough to let go of your thoughts. And since it’s so structured and rhythmic, it’s harder for thoughts to come up in the first place.

Ferguson emphasizes that yoga nidra isn’t a magic cure for stress, or a replacement for actual sleep. “We inevitably live in a fast-paced, taxing kind of culture,” she says, “so finding ways to continually come back and rest are really important, and it’s not always that easy. Sometimes there are just a lot of demands. It ebbs and flows in terms of how I’m able to use it and whether or not I feel like I need it.”

Still, Ferguson expresses a kind of unease about evaluating her practice in purely pragmatic, results-based terms.

“Dreaming is important, and sleeping is important,” she says, “but the yogis would just say there’s more. There are deeper places to go with our consciousness.”




Yoga nidra : the flowering within

Yoga Nidra, the concept, is adopted from the ancient science of Tantra. It is a powerful practice for achieving deep relaxation while being conscious and aware. Nidra as a word stands for sleep, but the application here is totally different from what we generally understand sleep as. To understand this we need to log onto some basic insight into the different states of consciousness as explained in the yogic system.

There are three states in which our consciousness keep oscillating at regular intervals, through the agency of mind. These intervals are predetermined most of the times which is referred as the Bio Rhythms.

  1. Jaagrut awastha or normal wakeful state (conscious): This is outer most dimension in which consciousness is in contact with the external material dimension through the agency of sensory organs. We have five sensory organs viz. sight, smell, audition, taste and touch. This is where most of worldly communications takes place. Consciousness exists in an extroverted state relying on sensory organs to relay the information from surroundings.
  2. Swapna awastha or dream state (sub conscious): This is a totally different dimension where consciousness experiences a reality in forms of dreams.
  3. Sushupti awashta or deep sleep (unconscious): State of deep sleep when even dreams don’t appear to the consciousness and an absolute state is experienced which is mostly untraceable by common mind.

While we enter into ordinary sleep, the consciousness drifts from conscious plane to other two without an awareness of this transition. In yoga nidra, we train our mind to retain the awareness not just of this transition but of the actual experience it receives while being in each state.

During the practice, consciousness moves to a threshold state between sleep and wakefulness, thereby connecting with the sub conscious and unconscious dimensions.

This awareness is the actual scientific definition of relaxation which is in contrast to popular beliefs. As we generally observe by relaxation we often mean lying on a couch, having a cup of coffee or a drink or reading our favorite author or genre. All these are simply sensory diversions that change the direction in which our sense organs are engaged. They have very less to do with actual relaxation that occurs only when we are aware and unattached; in this reference it’s better to say un-indulged.

The matrix of Tension

Action, in general, leads to tension. This is natural physics. Two forces operating simultaneously at the same time will create tension. As we go through doing small and big things in life with body, mind or heart, we produce tension. And that tension operates on us. Whatever we do as part of routine, from eating to sleeping, to walking to running to catching a train to managing projects at work, each activity results in tension. These tensions are stored at several planes of our personality.

yoga-nidraThese accumulated tensions manifest in several form via our psyche. Imbalances, disorders and conflicts within an individual or societies or nations.

Yoga straightforwardly identifies these tensions at the source of suffering.  We are not aware of them directly and only see their symptoms. This condition is known as Klesha in Yoga and they are the root of all human problems. Avidya or ignorance is where they all are rooted. This ignorance is the realm of our personalities about which we are not really aware of.

We can categorize three basic types of tension:

  1. Muscular
  2. Emotional
  3. Mental

Yoga Nidra is an effective method of achieving physical, emotional and mental rest and release. It’s a systematic tool of transiting between different states of consciousness. This has got powerful and profound impacts on the overall personality. We are able to let go of stored tensions, burn sanskaras or to say break older habitual conditioning in order to have a fresh and conscious experience overall. It also increases the receptivity of mind and thus enhances learning and gaining knowledge.

Creativity and Sankalp

Also it allows for a creative expression of our mind as it get free from fears, phobias and several neurosis. This helps in concentrating the energy of mind and giving it a channeled expression. Opting for a resolution or Sankalp, during the practise provides for that channeling of the energy. This Sankalp is a very positive and virtuous idea that you might be aspired towards having as a part of you. It is chosen and repeated constantly each time you practise until it is realized.

Psychological Correlates

Our brain emits different types of wave patterns while we drift from one state of mind to the other. Mapping these waves through specific instruments has been a milestone in the studies conducted in several places. This has made more and more scientific brains interested and attracted towards exploring and researching the probable implications of Yoga Nidra as a tool to overcome several issues that modern civilization is struggling with.

The table below shows a scientific explanatory values for the states of consciousness and the values for brain waves emitted in each of these states. Also mentioned is the correlated field of experiencing with each state.

No. State of consciousness Psychological name Brainwave pattern Experience
1 Awake Conscious mind Beta Sensory awareness, external knowledge
2 Yoga Nidra Border line between awake and sleep Alpha Deep relaxation, conscious dreaming
3 Dreaming sleeping Subconscious mind Theta Release of emotions, fears and desires
4 Deep sleep Unconscious mind Delta Awakening of instincts and primitive drives

The popular format of Yoga Nidra was designed by Shri Swami Satyananda Saraswti, the founder of one of the most authentic and popular institution of yoga study in our times called Bihar School of Yoga. He was a realized yogi who reformed many concepts and principles of yoga so as to be understood by the modern mind easily.

For more information on the technique and practise of yoga nidra, we will soon publish another post with further details.

Kind regards
Acharya vinay