Yoga Nidra translates as "yoga sleep" but during a Yoga Nidra practice you don't actually fall asleep (although you might!), instead you will enter a place of deep rest - a state that is neither awake nor asleep (you might have experienced this feeling when lying on the beach or in the garden - you are half asleep, you are aware but not thinking about anything. You are simply BEING. It can be blissful.
Yoga Nidra is an ancient meditative practice and during the practice I will guide you to that place of deep relaxation. You don't need to "do" anything. It requires no effort. You simply lie down and listen to my voice. It is a soothing and restorative practice where you connect to your inner essence, your essential nature.
According to the ancient Yoga Sutra text, "Yoga happens when we embody our Essential Nature as unconditioned Stillness, which is always present.". That ever-present stillness exists within each and every one of us but so often we are too busy to even get a glimpse of it. In Yoga Nidra we find it, we peel away the layers and rest in a place beyond thought, feelings and sensations.
I teach a form of Yoga Nidra which has been developed for the modern world called iRest® (or Integrative Restoration®). Many people practise iRest® Yoga Nidra simply because it feels luscious and it is SO beneficial to rest and "do" nothing. Others practise because research has shown that it can effectively reduce stress, anxiety, pain, insomnia, PTSD, depression and chemical dependency. It can bring about a feeling of being connected, whole and enhance one's sense of wellbeing and peace.
Please note that you don't need all these props - don't let it stop you practice - there are alternatives, read on....
Find a quiet place in your house where you won't be disturbed and make sure other members of your household know not to come in.
Wear something comfortable - you don't need to wear yoga clothes.
It is preferable to lie on the floor as you are more likely to actually fall asleep on your bed - the choice of course is yours! If you have a yoga mat, lie on that - otherwise a blanket is fine. You might be more comfortable with a blanket (or two) over your mat as well. COMFORT IS KEY!!
A folded blanket or two under your head is good too.
It's a good idea to have a support under your knees - a bolster if you have one is ideal, alternatively a rolled up blanket or towel or folded pillow, or you could try rolling up a pillow (lengthways) in a blanket/towel.
A covering for your eyes is useful to block out the light - an eye pillow if you have one, or a scarf (or sock!) can be used instead.
Finally, have a blanket to go over you. When we are in stillness, the body cools down - make sure you're warm. NB I took this picture on a boiling hot day hence the bare arms and shoulders, if this was an actual practice I would have sleeves.
Sarah Greenall is a registered Yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance Professionals with over 1500 hours' teaching experience. This accreditation demonstrates excellent standards as set by Yoga Alliance Professionals. Sarah is also an iRest® Level 1 Teacher as well as a trained Meditation teacher.