Like Yoga itself, Yoga Nidra is both a process and a state. You can be in the “state of Yoga Nidra” which is a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping. Yoga Nidra is also a set of techniques put together for you to help you get into that state.
There are many techniques in the Yoga Nidra “toolbox”, so you can design a practice to suit different purposes including simple relaxation, getting to sleep at night and unlocking creativity.
Yoga Nidra is a form of meditation we normally do lying down. When we are lying down it’s easier to access that “in between” state we can experience between waking and sleeping. There are times when lying down is not possible or comfortable so then it can be done supported in a comfortable seated position.
Yoga Nidra literally means “Yogic Sleep” but it’s not about sleeping – it’s about exploring different states of consciousness so we can wake up. You could say this is the first paradox relating to Yoga Nidra. As in Yoga in general there are many paradoxes when talking about Yoga Nidra – when one statement is true, but the opposite is also true.
So Yogic Sleep is about awakening.
Yoga Nidra is a state that occupies the borderline between waking and sleeping – not fully awake or fully asleep – something in between. And here comes the second paradox: although Yoga Nidra is a borderline state, at the same time it is a state in its own right. When we become able to stay in this place, the borderline opens up and we can experience a new state of consciousness. In this state of consciousness, the brain is at its most plastic so it’s easier to change things.
Ultimately, we can take this awareness into our sleep and our sleep becomes meditation.
Melanie Cooper & Jennie Wadsten