Yoga Nidra is the name given to a particular and quite remarkable state of consciousness. The name comes from the ancient Indian language sanskrit.
“Yoga” means union or one-pointed awareness. “Nidra” means sleep. So when you experience the state of Yoga Nidra in one of my classes in Brighton or Shoreham, or listening to a CD recording, you feel the deep stillness and tranquillity of sleep and yet you retain a unique kind of consciousness, an unusually profound level of awareness, a kind of pure consciousness untainted by habitual thought patterns. In fact the experience is so distinct that words hardly describe the depth and breadth of what occurs in the human mind during Yoga Nidra.
Why Practise Yoga Nidra
Many people I meet in London and in Sussex are looking for ways of relaxing, calming down, switching off and/or stilling the mind. Some people find themselves thinking too much or having excessive internal chatter whilst others want to learn ways of tackling feelings of stress and anxiety. Beneath all those layers of thoughts, feelings, beliefs and habits (so many habits) is pure consciousness a source of insight and understanding.
Whilst Yoga Nidra itself comes from India, you will find many other ancient traditions engaging with this kind of consciousness e.g. the Huna practices of Hawaii. It seems to me there is more than one way to reach this part of the mind and a variety of ways of using it. Yoga Nidra provides an excellent foundation for working with your own internal wisdom and gaining greater control over your thinking.
What do we mean by a Yoga Nidra Class or Workshop
Besides naming that state of pure consciousness the term Yoga Nidra is also used to describe the actual process itself of reaching that state. This can be a bit confusing when you first read about it. But as you get used to learning Yoga Nidra you easily realise the distinction between the two meanings – Yoga Nidra the state and Yoga Nidra the practice. You need to practise Yoga Nidra to experience the state of Yoga Nidra. Or, to put it another way, Yoga Nidra leads to Yoga Nidra. So when I teach a class I am teaching you how to practise Yoga Nidra and, at the same time, guiding you to the state of Yoga Nidra.
Regular Yoga Nidra is an excellent way of training the mind to develop healthier ways of thinking and feeling.