Salve life’s stresses and strains and tap into the naturally restful, effortlessly restorative, rhythmic state of yoga nidrā.
What is yoga nidrā?
Although literally, it can mean ‘yogic sleep,’ or ‘sleep that is yoga,’ or ‘sleep caused by yoga,’ or even the ‘sleep of the yogis,’ in fact yoga nidrā it is not sleep but an awakening.
To speak about doing yoga nidrā is a contradiction because in the state of yoga nidrā there is absolutely nothing to be done: Yoga nidrā is in fact a state of non-doing. All contemporary approaches to yoga nidrā are basically techniques to be practiced to access states of awareness that naturally arise effortlessly. You can’t do yoga nidrā, because yoga nidrā is a state of being, not doing. The processes of doing yoga nidrā lead us into the state of being in yoga nidrā.
What is happening to my brain during yoga nidrā?
Yoga nidrā is an effortless meditation upon the cyclical processes of falling asleep. It trains us to become familiar with, and aware of, the states of consciousness leading into and out of sleep.
All the brain‐wave states that arise on the journey into sleep, and during sleep itself, are present in yoga nidrā, which is why it feels so relaxing. Experiences of these different states of consciousness can be partially identified by the presence of different amplitudes of electrical activity in the brain, and all these different brain‐wave states (beta, alpha, theta, and delta waves) are detectable during the practice of yoga nidrā.
Yoga nidrā is a naturally arising state of human consciousness already experienced by everyone who has ever noticed themselves falling asleep and waking up. The threshold states of yoga nidrā already belong to us all. But, although the capacity to experience yoga nidrā exists within, many of us have forgotten how to access this naturally restful, creative state of being.
Here is a nine‐minute practice of yoga nidrā to restore rhythmic cycles. You can do this right now. It’s easy. Just settle back or, better still, lie down and read these yoga nidrā verses to yourself.
Notice what happens as you read. If you like, you can record this yoga nidrā later, in your own voice, or listen to an audio track of the practice in one of many different languages;3 but please know, by the end of the book, you probably won’t need a recording since you will, very likely, be able to do a whole practice of yoga nidrā all by yourself in the wordless voice of your own knowing because yoga nidrā is easy and this book reminds you that you already knew how to do this before reading the first page. You can’t do it wrong because there isn’t anything to do.
How to do yoga nidrā sleep meditation
Preparing for the start of your process of yoga nidrā – claiming this moment for the radical act of rest.
I take a pause to lay this body down upon the earth, inviting yoga nidrā now to enter every cell.
I lay this body down to rest. The center place is here. To left and right, in front and back, this body can rest now. The place I rest is centered in the sphere of sounds I hear. Above, beneath, from north and south, the sounds from east and west
are heard within the soundscape of this yoga nidrā space. Whatever sounds arise are the soundscape that I’m in.
Settling into your process of yoga nidrā – resourcing the body of rest.
I notice what this skin can feel, the temperatures and touch of all the clothes and covers, of the air upon the skin.
Observing breath arriving in the nostrils as it comes, observing breath departing from the nostrils as it goes.
The settling process happening is welcomed in these bones, the horizontal resting of this body here and now.
Inner listening and/or an inviting intuitive intention – choosing your flavor of yoga nidrā for now.
All that I am is welcome to be. All that I hear is welcome to be. All that I feel is welcome to be. Just as it is.
Welcoming attention around the body – journeying through places and spaces.
Making space to welcome rest in yoga nidrā here, attention now is traveling the paths of body‐land.
Now nourishment of rest can be received in every part.
From the crown of the head to scalp it flows,
from forehead to these brows,
the settling body now receives the nourishment of rest.
Between the brows, through resting eyes, the eyelids, right and left, between the eyes, the rest is here, and all they see is welcomed in.
Within the ears, behind the ears, these places now can rest.
The nostrils welcome every breath, and both the lips and tongue
are nourished now by restfulness, and are nurtured now by rest. The teeth and throat, the uvula, the arched roof of the mouth,
are resting, settling into quiet, in yoga nidrā now. This chin is still because there is nothing to be said.
The back of the neck, the whole of the spine, and both sides of the neck, the throat pipe now is soft within, all resting here and settling into yoga nidrā now.
Across the shoulders, down both arms, and into hands this flows. The yoga nidrā state is here to nourish and restore.
The palms of hands and fingertips, the spaces in between,
the thumbs and index fingers of both hands are resting now.
On left and right, from hand to hand, the middle fingers and the fourth, both little fingers resting, too, and all the webbing in between.
The fingertips and cuticles, the nails of both these hands, on right and left, on left and right, the whole of both hands now can rest.
Every place is nurtured now by this.
Both palms and belly now can just be resting in this place. This yoga nidrā time is now, and every breath is rest. From belly up to chest and breasts, there is a flow of restfulness. Within this heart, a space to be attentive to the pulse
allows the heart and mind to be, whilst the stomach receives rest, so centered in the navel is the nourishment of rest.
Both hips and genitals can rest, anus and pelvis, too, whilst all throughout the pelvic floor this rest is nurturing.
These hips and knees, these shanks and calves, the ankles and both feet, are welcomed in the resting place of yoga nidrā now.
The tops of the feet, the soles and toes, the right foot and the left, the spaces in between the toes are settled into rest.
No need to take another step, the place to be is here.
So resting now arises in the space of every pore, in every hair, on every nail, through skin and flesh and bones – the marrow, blood, and lymph can rest.
The inner rhythms of the guts, restoring deep within are all in yoga nidrā time, the rhythm of deep rest.
So there is nothing to be done, but resting here and being whole.
These lungs and every single joint are here to rest and be restored to rhythmic cycles now.
All fluids in this body‐land are restful in their flow. They’re pulsing now to rhythmic time, the yoga nidrā state. The healing beat of vital life in every cell is nurtured deep:
breathe in, and out, and in between, now every breath can rest. All smells and tastes, all forms and sounds, and everything that’s
known and felt, is welcomed into restfulness by yoga nidrā now. Unnamed other places, noticed in this body now
are nurtured here by restfulness there is no need to name: for every resting place is welcome, nourished, and restored by the space of yoga nidrā, by the act of resting here.
Playing with paradox and integration – inviting pairs of opposites.
Named and unnamed, inside and out,
from crown to soles, and toes to top,
this body is a resting place for yoga nidrā now.
The healing beat of vital life in every cell is nurtured deep.
The parts, the whole, breath in and out, now every part can rest. The healing beat of vital life in every space is nurtured deep,
breath in and out, and in between, the whole of this can rest. Now all of this, and all that is, is yoga nidrā here.
Without, within, from soles to crown, and top-down to these toes, this body is a resting place for yoga nidrā’s power.
All rhythms now can be restored, all pulse in time with life itself, and all that is felt is nurtured now by the nourishment of rest.
Optional connecting to imaginative capacity – feeling into sensory and extrasensory knowing.
So just to be, as if to see this body resting now,
so just to be, as if to glimpse a sight of this one resting here, so just to be, as if to feel the presence of deep rest restoring rhythmic cycles in the body of the earth.
The seasons of the cycles of life within this frame are turning now within this world of rest that is within. This being now is welcome home and welcomed to the ways
that truth comes home to wisdom’s way by resting here and now. These beauty paths to wisdom and truth traverses easily,
nurturing the welfare of this being resting here. This simple way to freedom now is nourished by deep rest,
and all is welcome just to be, and all is welcome just to rest in freedom, wisdom’s way.
Inner listening and/or inviting intuitive intention – savoring your flavor of yoga nidrā now.
Restoring rhythmic cycles in the body of the earth, restoring rhythmic cycles in this resting body now, restoring rhythmic cycles in the place of restful being, the vital power of the body’s cells is dancing to this pulse, the beating heart of all that lives upon the body of this earth.
Externalizing awareness – preparing to complete your process of yoga nidrā.
And resting here the breath is a signal to the way to be. Four seasons of this breath are cycling now in perfect time: breath in, breath out, breaths in between, now every breath that
moves is felt in all the places where this body meets the earth. All surfaces beneath me and the sounds of breathing here
are the bridges I can cross now to return to ‘every day.’
I took this pause to lay my body down upon the earth and invited yoga nidrā in to nurture every cell.
I laid this body down to rest beneath the sounds I heard. Above, beneath, to left and right, the center place was here. Throughout this pause, my body has restored the pulse of life,
restored the rhythmic cycles of the beat of life within. I hear my breath grow louder as a bridge to reconnect
to the world outside this body, to the world beyond this place.
Now sounds from all directions here are welcomed in again: above, beneath, from north and south, the sounds from east and west
are heard beyond the soundscape of my yoga nidrā breath. Listening out to sounds I hear, I now prepare myself
to return to all that calls me in the world beyond my nest.
Completing the natural cycle of your process – returning to everyday attention.
Small movements in my fingers and my toes awaken me, I stretch and sigh and yawn to bring myself to waking state.
Returning now refreshed, I can resume the work I do to be useful and of service here to all who need me now.
This cycle of your process of yoga nidrā is now complete. I have been reminded of the way that I can rest. Welcome back to my rested self.