About YOGA NIDRA
Yoga Nidra is an effortless lying down meditation which takes you to a space of conscious sleep. In the practice of Yoga Nidra we allow our physical bodies to surrender in relaxation, whilst our other levels of being are thoroughly nourished: the mind chatter is calmed, the emotions are balanced, and one’s level of vitality energised.
Regularly practiced, Yoga Nidra is a space of profound union with creation, where internal difficulties and questions are resolved naturally, and spontaneous creative insights can occur. It is a joyful practice of homecoming that leaves one feeling revived, and ready to face the tasks of the life with an open mind, and heart.
“I made pilgrimages, looking for God.
Then I gave up, turned around,
there God was inside me!
… in the form
of a love that fills your heart” ~ Lalla
Yoga Nidra translates from the sanskrit as “Yogi Sleep”, this is a little bit of a philosophical joke as the sleep of the yogi is to be truly awake. Yoga Nidra is an effortless state of being.
In epic Indian Vedic literature it talks of Yoga Nidra as the state that Narayana is in when a flower grows from his navel in which is Brahma who then creates the universe… so it can be said that the universe arises from the state of Yoga Nidra.
Kashmir Shaivite texts (circa 950CE) equate Yoga Nidra with Turiya (Shiva Sutra 1.7) ~ the fourth state of consciousness, neither waking, sleeping or dreaming, but something beyond all three.
As a practice Yoga Nidra is predominately taught through an arch of techniques which includes: settling, setting a sankalpa, rotation of consciousness, pairs of opposites, breath awareness, visualisations, sankalpa, externalisation and close ~ or most of them.
Yoga Nidra is predominately practiced lying down, but it can be done seated or in any other position.
My experience of Yoga Nidra is profound relaxation, rejuvenation, a sense of homecoming that I can only equate with the other Bhakti Yoga practices, and a sense of clarity which echoes throughout the day, long after the practice is over.
Yoga Nidra and Sankalpa
Within Yoga Nidra we start and end the practice with the setting of a Sankalpa ~ our heart’s prayer, a heart-centered intention. It spontaneously arises from the heart, rather than being constructed in the head. It is the voice of our inner teacher, Guru, guiding light within.
Literally the Sanskrit word breaks into “kalpa” meaning vow, and “san” referring to a connection with the highest truth. Therefore as Rod Stryker (American Yoga Nidra teacher) puts it “By definition a sankalpa should honour the deeper meaning of our life”
Sankalpa can commonly manifest within in the form of words, but it doesn’t have to, it could also be a shape, an image, or simply a feeling.
If the sankalpa is in the form of words it is always in the present tense, unlike other intentions that are set in future tense and therefore are difficult to manifest in the present. Be in the knowledge that you are already perfect, one just has to sink into ones true nature and say YES. Richard Miller (American Yoga Nidra teacher) says “A sankalpa isn;t a petition or a prayer, it is a statement of fact, and a vow that is true in the present moment”
So with the idea that sankalpa is recognising our true nature (the mountain peak of life), it can have a little pressure surrounding it ☺ ~ so it is common and perfectly acceptable to have kind of “base-camp” (milestone) sankalpas on the path to the peak of the mountain. This kind intention can clear the way to listen to the heart, these should always be constructed from a space of LOVE rather than as negative commands eg.
Instead of “I am not fearful” try “I approach all situations with love”
Instead of “I am not sick” use “I am whole and healed”
Instead of “I want to lose weight” use “I love myself as I am”
If you don’t have a sankalpa, don’t worry, just feel content in the knowledge that it will arise when its ready. Just trust and surrender in the heart space.
If you find it difficult to connect to the heart space, a simple way to start is through GRATITUDE ~ acknowledging what you are grateful for in life brings us straight to a space of love, an immediate connection to the heart.
The ancient tantric text the ‘Tripura Rahasya’ teaches that the quality of the mind reciting the sankalpa determines its effect. Yoga Nidra is the perfect fertile soil for the seed of the sankalpa to blossom. As yoga therapist Anne Douglas says “When you recall your sankalpa in Yoga Nidra, the heartfelt desire arrives as a felt sense in the body-mind. It is absolutely alive and true in that moment”
"I didn't trust it for a moment,
but I drank it anyway,
the wine of my own poetry.
It gave me the daring to take hold
of the darkness and tear it down
and cut it into little pieces" ~ Lalla
REST IS REVOLUTIONARY
The incredible Uma Dinsmore-Tuli (co-founder of the Yoga Nidra Network) talks about why lying down and resting is a revolutionary act.
Click on the name of the event to find out more or go to our calendar for more events, classes and workshops
11:15am - 12:30pm
with Sivani Mata at The Life Centre, Islington, N1
Thursday 4th May
7:30pm - 9:30pm
with Sivani Mata at Gracelands Yard,
Kensal Rise, NW10