What is Yoga Nidra?

I like to stay open to all the different ideas about Yoga Nidra. In this post I will be describing Yoga Nidra in a traditional sense.

According to Yoga philosophy, the koshas are layers of our being which make us whole. Sometimes the outer layers of our being can distract us from experiencing our innermost Kosha or layer, which is anandamaya Kosha, the bliss body, inner peace, joy, and stillness.

“Candle in the dark..” by fettahor is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

During the practice of yoga nidra the voice guiding you will take you from your outermost layer, through all the layers or koshas, to the bliss body, and will then return you to gently back to your outermost layers.

A sankulpa is an intention or a resolve that can help you to make positive changes to your habits and lifestyle. During the practice the sankulpa will be revealed at the beginning of the practice and repeated when we reach the anandamaya kosha, the bliss body.

With yoga nidra it is normal to drift off, you don’t need to feel that you have failed by being inattentive, usually you will find that you tune back in to the voice at a later point. Practicing yoga nidra often, will improve your results.

In yoga nidra we take the brain though different brain waves. Research is ongoing about the activities of the brain, we are not going to go too deeply into this topic but we will discuss four different types of brain waves that are related to the practice of yoga nidra which are:

Beta waves – which are the waves experienced in waking consciousness

Alpha waves – waves that come about while in a state of deep relaxation

Theta waves – these are the waves experienced during light meditation and light sleep

Delta waves – experienced during deep sleep

With yoga nidra it naturally occurs that we experience less of the beta waves, which are the waves that we are most familiar with, because beta is the band of normal waking consciousness. Instead we experience more of the alpha, theta, and delta waves.

Yoga nidra has the ability to extend our experience of alpha waves which is extremely beneficial because it allows us to resolve muscular, mental and emotional tensions. The alpha brainwave pattern is the in between stage; in between being awake and asleep, it is a deeply relaxing experience.

Since we rarely spend much time in this band of brain waves, alpha, it can feel unusual. What you need to know is that it is very healing and offers many therapeutic benefits and potential for growth, if practiced regularly. We know that these brain waves are experience during yoga nidra because they have observed with brainwave monitors which are called electroencephalograms.